Word to the Wise

We make email better.


We make email better.

Word to the Wise helps email marketers create more effective email messages, programs and infrastructures. We advise you how to skillfully navigate the constant business, technology, and policy challenges so your messages reach your customers.

We can help you with your email strategy, deliverability challenges and many other email issues.

Latest stories

Deliverability is Collaborative


Mailbox providers want happy recipients Mailbox providers want their users to be happy with the mail they receive and the service they get. That’s driven by stark business reasons: acquiring new users is costly, happy users bring in revenue – whether directly, or indirectly via advertising – and their word of mouth helps bring in more users, and hence more revenue. That’s...

Why Deliverability Matters to Me


Welcome to deliverability week. I want to especially thank Al for doing a lot of work behind the scenes herding this group of cats. He’s an invaluable asset to the community. The topic today is why deliverability matters to me. Until I started writing this, I hadn’t really thought about it much. Like most folks, I kinda fell into deliverability. I still describe myself as a scientist...

It’s Deliverability Week


What is Deliverability Week? Al Iverson decided it should happen, and asked a bunch of deliverability folks to share some of their thoughts about the deliverability industry – why do we do this? where did we come from? what’s next? Monday Al’s summary of the day, Deliverability Week: Why deliverability matters to us. Deliverability Matters, and welcome to Deliverability Week...

SWAKS: Test your SMTP


We’ve mentioned SWAKS here a few times – but I always use it for delivering test mail directly to a recipient’s MX.

Matt, over at EmailKarma, posted today pointing out that it supports authentication, so you can also use it to send email out from your commercial smarthost. Handy.

Check it out.

No, Google doesn’t hate responsive design


I’ve seen a bunch of folks panic about some phrasing in Google’s Email sender guidelines. Buried deep in the Message formatting section Google say: Don’t use HTML and CSS to hide content in your messages. Hiding content might cause messages to be marked as spam. Read literally that might cause you to wonder about your use of CSS display:none to switch between different content on...

DNS for white label authentication with SproutDNS


I wrote last year about using “stunt” nameservers for customer subdomain authentication – i.e. dynamically generating all the authentication records needed in DNS for each customer as needed. For example, if you’re an ESP that has customers who can’t or won’t use their own domains and you still need to give them unique subdomains you can generate CNAME records...

Deliverability Summit 2024


We just got back from Amsterdam a couple of days ago, after attending the Deliverability Summit. It may have been the best email event I’ve been to in several years. Not too big, not too small. Plenty of space and time to meet up with folks. Mostly great sessions, a better average than most conferences. Well organized, at a lovely location, with a safe and welcoming environment. Andrew et...

Anatomy of a Received header


When trying to find out why Something Went Wrong during delivery of an email we sometimes want to look at the route by which it was delivered. Did SPF break because of an unexpected forward? Did DKIM break because an intermediate mailserver modified the content of the message? Why did it take nine hours from the mail leaving our ESP to make it to the inbox? Did it really leave our ESP when they...

Looking back, looking forward


Six years ago today I wrote here “Spam isn’t going away“, talking about systemic problems at Google, Cloudflare and Amazon and in India. If I were writing it today I might mention Microsoft, Salesforce and ExactTarget as well as Google, and might stress Amazon less (mostly because all the Amazon spam sites tend to be hidden behind Cloudflare, so you don’t know...

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