The Broadband Slow Down

Navigating the complex email delivery landscape continues to be a major challenge for many marketers, particularly those running in-house software solutions. ISPs and mailbox providers continue to evolve their policies and procedures rapidly and often dramatically. This is evident across many of the local cable and DSL service providers who also offer email services.

As broadband access continues to proliferate, local cable and DSL providers are faced with the same challenges as the larger, traditional ISPs and mailbox providers: protecting customers from spam, viruses, and zombie (define) attacks. Many broadband providers have implemented new policies to help stem the tide of spam, such as implementing SMTP (define) connection and volume rate restrictions.

As a result, attempting to open too many concurrent SMTP connections or sending too much email over a short period can lead to timeout errors or delays. Marketers who don’t properly adjust to these new thresholds risk their messages not being delivered. Decreasing incoming volume rates and simultaneous SMTP connections to their networks offers local cable and DSL providers one of the simplest, most effective, and most cost-efficient ways to protect their customers from potential spammers.

Spam has become a financial burden for many mailbox providers as costs increase due to filtering, software and product development, bandwidth, servers, and storage. Meanwhile, anti-spam fighting capabilities are now common. Leading mailbox providers are racing to differentiate themselves and to improve customer retention and satisfaction.

Research indicates consumers believe local cable and DSL providers must catch up. “Consumer Reports” recently survey nearly 26,000 of its subscribers. The survey reveals broadband customers who also subscribe to AOL or MSN are “considerably more satisfied with protection and reported greater reductions in spam during the previous six months as compared with broadband subscribers who didn’t subscribe to either [AOL or MSN” service.” It’s easy to see why this trend may continue, as many local cable and DSL providers continue to look at building and extending their spam defenses.

Traditional domains such as AOL, Yahoo, and MSN/Hotmail still comprise the majority of email addresses on consumer lists. However, marketers must closely monitor their lists for local cable/DSL account addresses — typically 10 to 20 percent of a list. They must also implement solutions to ensure and optimize email delivery in consideration of these trends. Here’s how:

  • Audit infrastructure capabilities. Review your email solution to ensure it can be configured to adapt to simultaneous SMTP connection and volume restrictions across multiple receiving domains.

  • Prioritize bounce management. Verify that your email solution can identify when email fails to be delivered and can categorize bounce codes by domain.
  • Segment your list. If your solution can’t be configured around specific receiving domain requirements, consider creating smaller lists and sending them campaigns in successive waves over a longer period.
  • Add to address book or safe list. Some mailbox providers offer additional deliverability benefits, such as bypassing certain filtering levels. This can enhance overall deliverability.
  • Maintain a preference center. Incorporate reminders on your preference center and email communications for subscribers to add your address to their address books and update their email addresses.
  • Stay on top of the broadband trend. Be proactive: ask subscribers about their use of cable and DSL email accounts in surveys and review your list for these domains when possible.
  • Leverage broadband to optimize messaging performance. If you know users are on broadband, take advantage of new creative possibilities, including video. If used appropriately, video can improve click-through and conversion rates. Ask about preferences and test.
  • Monitor deliverability. Set up seed lists and analyze deliverability reporting across all domains that make up over 1 percent of your list composition. Continue to monitor deliverability at smaller local cable/DSL domains, as these users may be your best customers and typically compose a richer demographic.

Monitor, manage, adapt, and evolve: this is today’s deliverability reality. Are you prepared?

Till next time,

Al D.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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