Delivery Essentials, Random

Who drafts a kicker?

Now that summer is officially over, the sports fans among us can all heave a collective sigh of relief that our long, football-less drought has ended. Saturdays and Sundays (and Mondays, Thursdays, and occasional Fridays) are now filled with the sounds of play calling, armchair quarterbacking, copious snacking, and the occasional head trauma. On the field, teams rely on every player to fill a specific role – the quarterback leads the team, the running back keeps the defense on their toes, the wide receivers run their routes with precision, and the defensive backs keep the other team from breaking a big play. But what about the kicker?

rxhtc

Long the butt of jokes and now memes, kickers are often seen as nearly an afterthought, and certainly nobody thinks of them when trying to draft a successful team. Nobody cares about their team’s kicker – until he misses. And that’s exactly how many senders think about deliverability.

Crafting engaging content, targeting the right users, and driving subscriber acquisition are often seen as the stars of email marketing: they generate all the revenue and keep your campaigns on the winning side of the scoreboard. But what happens when your marketing stalls out? When only half of your recipients are seeing your email in their inbox?

Your team is supremely talented when it comes to marketing your brand or organization, but trying to solve deliverability problems on your own is like asking your defensive lineman to kick a field goal (in case you’re not a football fan, let’s just say ‘ain’t gonna happen’). You need a deliverability expert on your team to navigate these issues when they arise. Whether it’s a dedicated internal employee, the team provided by your ESP, or an outside consultant, having a specialist available will help ensure you’re able to drive home your messaging.

If a football team ignores their kicker until they desperately need him, chances are they’ll fall short. Don’t ignore your deliverability and let your marketing campaigns suffer the same fate. And if you’re in need of deliverability help, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to help.

– BG

 

Industry Updates

Google announces the death of Inbox

Not with a bang, but with a tweet: yesterday Google announced via Twitter that Inbox, their alternative mail client introduced in 2014, will shut down as of March 2019.

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The transition guide linked in the tweet notes that some of Inbox’s features will be integrated into the traditional Gmail product, including Smart Reply and snooze/nudge options for delayed follow-ups.

The closure of Inbox is not likely to have a major impact on senders. While messages were grouped slightly differently, the structure of Inbox is similar to that of Gmail’s tabs and labels. With that said, it’s always important to watch your own metrics and be mindful of any changes in Gmail response rates around the time of shutdown.

While Google never released solid numbers, it’s easy to infer that Inbox never gained the kind of traction they had hoped – or maybe it was a glorified sandbox that allowed them to test some of their ideas for the primary Gmail product. In any case, those of us who used it as our daily driver are left looking for an alternative before next spring.

– BG

 

Industry Updates

The not-so-official end of summer recap

081006-f-7824s-1131Now that the little ones are back in school and the neighborhood pools are locking their gates, folks everywhere are heralding the ‘official’ end of summer. While the temps here in NC might disagree, all signs seem to point to the email industry’s slight summer lull coming to a close. Calls from clients are picking up, my unread mail counts are creeping up, and 250ok’s Matt Vernhout is already talking about holiday email.

Before we dive right into the time of the year when marketers burn the candle at both ends, let’s step back for a moment and review some industry updates and notes from the summer months. My own summer was so busy that my writing schedule dropped off, so here’s a few nuggets of information you might have missed.

Deliverability InfernoChris Arrendale of delivery consultant firm Inbox Pros actually released his first book in March, but it really started to pick up steam with readers over the summer months. Deliverability Inferno: Helping Email Marketers Understand the Journey from Purgatory to Paradise introduces both basic and in-depth deliverability knowledge gleaned from years of industry experience. The book progresses through the 9 levels, or challenges, each marketer faces in the journey from email purgatory to the glorious inbox paradise. It even features a brief interview with yours truly – but it’s worth picking up nonetheless.

250ok Deliverability Guide – If you’re in for a shorter read (or something to casually hand your decision-makers to help them understand your challenges), 250ok has you covered. In July, the deliverability solutions vendor released their new Deliverability Guide. The 38-page book shares core deliverability insights that are perfect for getting your feet wet or building on basic concepts you already understand. Best of all? It’s free and doesn’t even require your email address to download.

OMG, look at those domains – Along with the merger of AOL and Yahoo into the new company Oath, a new acronym was formed to reference the “big 3” mailbox providers of Oath, Microsoft, and Google: OMG. Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise coined the term, and Al Iverson’s Spam Resource blog gave us an exhaustive list of domains that fall under the Oath umbrella. Could be very useful in rolling up metrics by email provider (even though AOL and Yahoo email are not quite fully integrated just yet).

Need a job? Marketing agency Merkle is looking for an experienced professional to manage deliverability for a large client. Check out the job description and requirements on Merkle’s site.

More business moves – Earlier I mentioned Chris Arrendale and Inbox Pros, and just this week they made the news again in a big way. Digital marketing agency Trendline Interactive acquired Inbox Pros to become the only agency offering end-to-end marketing support including deliverability consultation and remediation.

– BG

Industry Updates

Oath update: AOL, Yahoo, Verizon MTAs and FBLs

Last week, the Oath Postmaster blog published an update on the status of their email migration. AOL (who previously absorbed Verizon’s email) and Yahoo are moving closer to their end goal of a unified email platform under the new Oath brand.

According to the post, all mail sent to either brand is now “handled by…OATH MTAs.” So when you send to any address at aol.com, aim.com, verizon.net, yahoo.com, or any other domain controlled by these providers, the mail is all routed through the same system – including spam filtering. Reports have been surfacing on some industry forums of AOL bounces for Yahoo addresses and vice versa. As a sender, this also means you should start aggregating these domains for your reporting purposes. Monitoring complaints, bounces, and other metrics for anomalies should consider Oath as a single entity – word on the street indicates most ESPs have already begun this process for their customer monitoring.

In addition, spam complaints for AOL recipients will soon be received via the existing Yahoo feedback loop. Since Yahoo’s FBL is domain-based, all mail to AOL addresses must be DKIM-signed to participate in the FBL (if it isn’t already). If you use an ESP that hosts your DKIM, they may need to double-sign to ensure all FBL complaints are received.

So far, the Oath Postmaster blog and their participation in various industry channels have provided regular updates on the migration. Let’s hope that pattern continues as the two current Postmaster sites are combined into an upcoming Oath Postmaster resource.

– BG

Industry Updates

Spamcannibal’s brief zombie run

Earlier this week the spam blacklist Spamcannibal, which had been returning no listings for a few months, had its domain expire and become redirected to some pretty nasty auto-downloads. Many of us suspected malware because of the multiple redirects and prompts to download a Flash update, but that has yet to be confirmed.

In the meantime, though, Al Iverson was able to get in touch with the operator, who has since retaken control of the domain and is working to sunset the list in a more respectable fashion. So Spamcannibal remains dead, but at least the malware zombies no longer have control of the domain.

– BG

Industry Updates

UCEProtect gets busy; Spamcannibal calls it quits (maybe?)

UCEP

This past Friday, May 25th, was a very busy day in the email and privacy world. The EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, prompting all sorts of privacy policy updates (which in turn prompted all sorts of emails about those updates). From my own experience and the shared experiences of many others, it seems most of these emails cast a very wide net – devoid of targeting or list hygiene. Many of us received updates from brands we don’t remember engaging – and others with which we never did. As a result of all this email, the German UCEProtect blacklist was also very busy, seeing a surge in IPs appearing on its blacklists (h/t Word to the Wise). We’ve seen a small surge in the number of client IPs on UCEProtect as well, but haven’t been able to correlate it directly to GDPR notices. As Laura notes, UCEProtect is not typically a list that causes many bounces, so seeing your IP(s) there is more of a nuisance in most cases.

spamcan1In other blacklist-related news, it appears the Spamcannibal blacklist has shut down. The domain (don’t go there, really) now presents a number of nefarious redirects instead of the blacklist content. No official announcement has been provided, but the Spamcannibal list was considered among the less-reliable blacklists by many in the industry. If the shutdown is permanent, the impact is likely to be minor as the list was not widely used for inbound mail filtering.

– BG

Industry Updates

More missing Google Postmaster data (UPDATE – it’s back)

6/1/18 UPDATE: And just like that, the data is back. Reports (as well as my own account) indicate the data is currently populated until 5/30. The data typically runs about 2 days behind in my experience, so it seems the issue is likely resolved.

This Monday’s Memorial Day (US) holiday and its extended weekend was accompanied by many reports of missing data in Google’s Postmaster Tools. In my own account (as in most of the reports I’ve seen) the data stopped rolling in on May 24th. Unlike some previous instances, all GPT data appears affected – Spam Rate all the way down through Delivery Errors.

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We’re as confused as this guy. (courtesy Google)

Each time this happens, many of us hope it’s the oft-promised Postmaster Tools update – the one that brings API access, flexible dashboards and other as-yet-unannounced Google Goodness™. Thus far that hope has been unrealized….but there’s always next time. In the meantime, we’ll just stick to hoping Google restores the missing data in a timely fashion.