How to decipher filtering rules for Hotmail, MSN, AOL, Yahoo, and Gmail.
That black box where spam filtering takes place is a source of endless frustration to most e-mail marketers. Rules followed by mailbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo (as well as corporations) seem remote as the Yukon, and we feel left behind without our snow gear.
Truth is, most of the significant mailbox providers in North America have become quite transparent over the past five years. While we all would prefer a bat phone or a silver bullet for removing spam blocks, that just isn't how it works. Every time mailbox providers let marketers in on some of the filtering rules and thresholds, spammers also have access that information (and use it!). So it's surprising that we get any feedback data at all. Consider all the sources below, and combine this data with inbox placement tracking (seed list or header-based) for the most insightful and actionable reporting:
The best way to stay in the inbox and out of the filtering nets is to delight subscribers and only send messages that will be opened, read, and welcome. Yet, even the best of us get blocked sometimes. What can we do? Here are some options to consider.
If you've had issues with blocking and filtering of messages, it's likely that changes to your practices will correct the problem in days or at worst, a few weeks. Typically, sender reputation is measured on a 30-day cycle, so if you make changes now, the results will show up in that timeframe, usually within 10 days. Most inbox placement problems can be solved by the marketer and their ESP working together, without having to ring up the postmaster after all.
What are your biggest frustrations when it comes to inbox placement and monitoring? Perhaps we can address them in a future column, or learn from others' handling of them.
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Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources, and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP, Member Relations and Chief Listening Officer at the Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org). Feedback and column ideas most welcome, to smiller AT the-dma DOT org or @stephanieSAM.
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