Sender Authentication Checks Up, Varies Among ISPs

Deliverability rates for permission-based e-mail average 75 percent in the U.S., though some ISPs do a better job routing messages to the inbox than others. J.L. Halsey’s Lyris released its “EmailAdvisor ISP Deliverability Report Card for Q2 2007” with details on the ISPs with the top deliverability rates and other e-mail trends.

The study notes an increase in the use of Sender Policy Framework (SPF) authentication methods among ISPs. While the average deliverability rate is 75 percent, AIM.com routes 97 percent of permission-based e-mails to inboxes. RoadRunner SoCal delivers about 10 percentage points below AIM.com. Verizon, USA, Compuserve, IWon, AOL, Juno, Mac, and Netzero all exceed 80 percent delivery rates.

On the flip side, permission-based e-mails land in junk and bulk folders an average 16 percent of the time. XO Communications/Concentric delivers 56 percent of permission-based e-mail to junk and bulk folders. SBC Global and Bell South place about 30 percent of invited e-mails in junk and bulk folders, and Yahoo routs 26 percent. MSN Network, GMail, and Hotmail average 18 percent of consented e-mail to junk and bulk, while AOL relegates only 1.94 percent of marketer’s e-mail to undesired folders. AOL’s ability to identify permission-based e-mail could be due to its use of Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail program, which qualifies legitimate messages.

Sender reputation influences whether messages are routed to the inbox or junk folder. One cause is when marketers or their ESPs (define) fail to update SPF (define) records when it changes a domain, ESP or other e-mail practices.

“You’re having a broken record, not updating, and regularly checking records is where a lot of innocent marketers do have deliverability challenges,” said Stefan Pollard, director of consulting services at EmailLabs, which is owned by J.L. Halsey. “If you have a broken record, you’re actually raising your hand and saying this is not me sending the e-mail, don’t deliver it.”

E-mail senders are advised to follow spam’s ever-evolving format. “The biggest challenge is that spam evolves and spam changes at an ever-increasing rate,” Pollard said. “By the time you’ve identified spam, it’s changed into something new.”

A year ago image-based spam arose as the prevalent formula, which has since given way to the use of attachments of PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files. “A lot of marketers still send very image-heavy e-mails, and a lot of marketers get caught up,” said Pollard.

Between April and June the Lyris EmailAdvisor service monitored the full delivery trajectories of 43,558 production-level, permission-based e-mail marketing messages sent from 60 businesses and non-profit organizations to multiple accounts at 58 IDP domains in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.

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