Industry News & Analysis

UPDATE: Spike in Yahoo unknown users

I still don’t have any solid information on the cause of the Yahoo bounces. I do know that folks inside Yahoo are looking into the issue.

However, multiple people (including my clients) are reporting that the addresses that are bouncing have very recent click and open activity. Other reports say these addresses deliver on a resend.

It looks like my advice yesterday was incorrect. I’m currently telling clients to continue mailing addresses for the time being.


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Possible spike in Yahoo unknown users

Multiple folks are mentioning seeing an increase in “user unknown” responses from Yahoo. Some people are discussing this with Yahoo.

Right now, best advice is to believe these are accurate user unknowns. UPDATE: There is increasing evidence these are not valid user unknowns. See next post.

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Speaking in June

ActiveCampaign is hosting their very first user conference in Chicago in June. I am honored to be a part of their speaker lineup.

Early bird registration only $450 through April 30.

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Happy International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day, and I thought I’d take a moment to mention some of the many, many women who have inspired me and helped me along the way. Some of them work in deliverability and compliance. Others are business colleagues. Still others are cheerleaders and inspiration. All of them make the world a better place.

  • Jen
  • April
  • Kristin
  • Kelly
  • Judith
  • Mary
  • Heather
  • Skyler
  • Kate
  • Rachel
  • Karen
  • Sue
  • Autumn
  • Lili
  • Mary (the other one)
  • Sara
  • Asya
  • Christine
  • Heather (the other one)
  • Anna
  • Melinda
  • April (the other one)
  • Laura (the one that’s not me)
  • Catherine
  • Tara
  • Jamie
  • Tifaine
  • Hope
  • Anna (the other one)
  • Josie
  • Alice
  • Kate (the other one)
  • Lisa
  • Kiersti
  • Laura (the other one that’s not me nor the other one )
  • Denise
  • Stephanie
  • Michelle
  • Liza
  • Justine
  • Rachel (the other one)
  • Jenifer
  • Jen (the other one)
  • Murph
  • Courtney
  • Sue (the other one)
  • Elizabeth

A giant shout out and thank you to all these women. Many of them spend their days making the Internet a safer place. That means they see some of the grottier corners that none of us want to experience.

You are all amazing and awesome and I am better for having known you.

My contribution for today is to recognize some of the amazing women I know and work with. What are doing for International Women’s Day?



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What does good IP Reputation get you?

Today I was discussing some mailing list posts with an ESP colleague. He was telling me some interesting numbers he’d collected from different IP pools they maintain. He was testing routing mail through IPs based on subscription process and routing based on engagement metrics. The data showed that inboxing rates were similar across the test groups. As he put it, “IP reputation didn’t have much impact on inbox delivery.”

I’m not surprised. I’ve been talking for a while about how IP reputation is less important in reaching the inbox. In fact, it was almost 5 years ago now that I wrote The Death of IP Based Reputation. I updated it in 2015 with Deliverability and IP Reputation. Overall, IP reputation is a much smaller piece of reaching the inbox now than it has been in the past. I’ve talked about the reasons for this in the above posts. The short version is:

  • IP reputation is a crude hammer;
  • IPv4 addresses are in very limited supply, in network terms more customers / IP is a good thing;
  • Spammers use botnets, sending large amounts of email across many IPs;
  • IPv6 is huge and IP based blocking will be challenging and of limited effectiveness; and
  • Better computing power makes content scanning more feasible.

IP Reputation Still Matters, a little

This doesn’t mean senders can, or should ignore IP reputation. Even Gmail looks at IP reputation a little bit.  The place IP reputation is primarily used during the SMTP transaction. Good IP reputation does lead to less rate limiting. Senders with good IP reputation can send more mail faster than senders with poor reputation. But once the SMTP transaction is over, IP reputation is just a small factor in a large pool of variables.

IP Reputation Still Matters, a little more.

There are some places that heavily rely on IP filters. And some places that rely on certain types of IP filters. Most of the major providers will block mail from home users, dynamic IPs, and infected machines. Additionally, there is and will probably always be a long tail of domains that are still relying on IP based filters. It’s a crude hammer, but it’s an effective one. Typically, though, IP reputation in those cases is in the eye of the root user. The good news is, these are often private networks, and users have the option to use less restrictive free providers if they’re not getting the email they want.


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And… we’re back

There was an unexpected break in blogging over the last 2 weeks. Between M3AAWG, a week of house guests and some upcoming big changes I didn’t get much writing finished. I started, and am still working on, about half a dozen different posts.

Thanks for your patience, we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled writing soon.



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2017 Deliverability Benchmark report

Return Path has released their 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report. I haven’t had a chance to look at it, but did download it earlier today.

EContent has a summary of the article up, with the headline Research Finds Email Senders with Strong Subscriber Engagement Are Likely to See Less Email Delivered to SpamUseful data points they pulled out include:

  • The increase in spam placement is somewhat offset by the fact that consumers were more likely than ever to “rescue” wanted mail from the spam folder, as demonstrated by the significant year over year increase in the “this is not spam” rate (1.77% in 2017 versus 1.04% in 2016).
  • Subscribers read email at a slightly lower rate than last year (21.5% in 2017, 22.2% in 2016), but mail that is ignored (or “deleted before reading”) was also slightly less common than a year ago (11.9% in 2017, 12.5% in 2016).


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Lack of blogging, in 3 images


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Metric Monetization

As a digital channel, email provides a lot of different metrics for marketers to use. Not only can marketers measure things like open and click rates, but they can tie these numbers back to a particular recipient. This treasure trove of information leads to obsessing over making the numbers look good. For good deliverability senders want low bounce rates, low spamtrap rates, and high engagement rates.

These metrics are important because they’re some of the things that filters look at when making delivery decisions. We care about this data because the receiver ISPs care about the data. The ISPs care about this data because they are characteristics of wanted and/or opt in email.

Over the past few years a number of companies sell services selling good metrics.

  • List hygiene companies “tell you what addresses are valid.” These services can lower bounce rates, but they don’t address the underlying issue which is that a subscription process doesn’t do any data verification.
  • Spamtrap companies “tell you what addresses are traps.” But that’s not really what they’re doing. They’re telling you what addresses might bounce or belong to a domain that doesn’t have any actual user.
  • Engagement companies “tells you what addresses have any activity.” But just because a recipient interacts regularly with one type of email doesn’t actually mean they want all email.

These services attempt to mitigate poor acquisition and hygiene processes. They’re often used in lieu of ongoing good practices. In some limited cases they’re a good thing and can be used to facilitate the relationship between a recipient and a vendor they want to her from. But, overall, I don’t think they’re that great for the industry.



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Spring in San Francisco

And, of course, that means M3AAWG is coming to town. I’m speaking on two panels this conference and will be around starting mid-day Monday. Of course, half the fun of M3AAWG is watching the swarms of posts on Facebook of friends traveling to wherever.

Those of you visiting, weather is nice. Sadly (as we’re heading back into drought) we’re not expecting rain next week. And, we’re back up at the top of the hill – across the street at the Fairmont.

Looking forward to seeing everyone.

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