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April: The month in email

April was a big month of changes in the email world, and here at Word to the Wise as we launched our new site, blog and logo.

DMARC

The big story this month has been DMARC, which started with a policy change Yahoo made on April 4 updating their DMARC policy from “report” to “reject”. We began our coverage with a brief DMARC primer to explain the basics around these policy statements and why senders are moving in this direction. We shared some example bounces due to Yahoo’s p=reject, and talked about how to fix discussion lists to work with the new Yahoo policy. We gathered some pointers to other articles worth reading on the Yahoo DMARC situation, and suggested some options for dealing with DMARC for mail intermediaries. Yahoo issued a statement about this on April 11th, explaining that it had been highly effective in reducing spoofed email. We also noted a great writeup on the situation from Christine at ReturnPath. On April 22nd, AOL also announced a DMARC p=reject record.  We talked a bit about who might be next (Gmail?) and discussed how Comcast chose to implement DMARC policies, using p=reject not for user email, but only for the domains they use to communicate directly with customers. We expect to see more discussion and policy changes over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Spamtraps

We wrote three posts in our continuing discussion about spamtraps. The first was in response to a webinar from the DMA and EEC, where we talked about how different kinds of traps are used in different ways, and, again, how spamtraps are just a symptom of a larger problem. Following that, we wrote more about some ongoing debate on traps as we continued to point out that each trap represents a lost opportunity for marketers to connect with customers, which is really where we hope email program managers will focus. And finally, we tried to put some myths about typo traps to rest. As I mentioned in that last post, I feel like I’m repeating myself over and over again, but I want to make sure that people get good information about how these tools are used and misused.

Security

We started the month by saying “Security has to become a bigger priority for companies” and indeed, the internet continued to see security breaches in April, including the very serious Heartbleed vulnerability in SSL. In the email world, AOL experienced a compromise, which contributed to some of the DMARC policy changes we discussed above. In a followup post, we talked about how these breaches appear to be escalating. Again, we expect to hear more about this in the next weeks and months.

Best Practices

Ending on a positive note, we had a few posts about best practices and some email basics. We started with a pointer to Al Iverson’s post on masking whois info and why not to do it. Steve wrote up a comprehensive post with everything you ever wanted to know about the From header and RFC5322. I talked about how companies ignore opt-outs, and why they shouldn’t. I shared a really good example of a third-party email message, and also talked about message volume. And finally, we talked about how and why we warm up IP addresses.

Let us know if there’s anything you’d like to hear more about in May!

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