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March 2017: The Month in Email

It’s that time again… here’s a look at our last month of blog posts. We find it useful to recap each month, both to track trends and issues in email delivery and to provide a handy summary for those who aren’t following along breathlessly every single day. Let us know if you find it useful too!

As always, I wrote about email filters. It’s so important to recognize that filters aren’t arbitrary — they’re detailed instructions that help meet specific user needs, and the more you are cognizant of that, the better you’ll be able to work with them. Additionally, filters aren’t perfect and likely never will be. False positives and false negatives are frustrating, but as long as spam is still a viable business for spammers, they’ll continue to figure out how to work around filters. As such, we can’t expect filters to be 100% accurate in determining what constitutes wanted and unwanted mail.

Part of this, of course, is due to the problem of fraudulent signups. Companies aren’t particularly vigilant about address acquisition and hygiene, and as a result, they’ll claim you “signed up” for their email when you did not. Some people believe that a confirmed opt-in (COI) will solve this problem, but our experience is companies are reluctant to leave revenue on the table, and that they will continue to mail to addresses that have not confirmed.

Address sharing and co-reg is also part of the problem. As we saw in the extensive RCM data breach, many major brands continue to work with third-party senders to send mail in ways that are quite clearly spam. And in more criminal activity, I looked at the rise of botnets and how some of those criminals were brought to justice. In other justice news, there’s been an indictment in the Yahoo breach and another CASL enforcement action.

I wrote a post about bounce handling and “relaying denied” error messages, which are quite rare. It’s useful to have an understanding of these and other error messages, since bounces are sometimes indicative of a larger technical issue, such as when AOL accidentally bounced all messages for a short period last week. Speaking of AOL, we noted that there’s no official timeline for the move from Verizon addresses to AOL addresses following the 2015 acquisition, but it may be worth considering asking your customers to update their addresses.

Spam and filters aren’t the only factors of course. It can be challenging to figure out the multiple factors that make up the black box of delivery. And of course, the most important part of delivery continues to be engagement, engagement, engagement.

I wrote a few posts this month on why I do what I do, and why it’s so important to me. First, I wrote about A Day Without A Woman, and my choice not to participate in offering advice and guidance for that day. The truth is that I enjoy sharing what I know and helping people solve problems. I was honored to be named one of 11 Innovators in Email, and I know that my volunteer work in the industry and my unpaid blogging work is a big part of that. It may sound corny, but I really do believe we are on the front lines of the fight of good vs. evil online, and despite the distractions of politics and world events, we must all continue to do our part.

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