Best Practices, Delivery Essentials, Industry Updates

Don’t be so quick to suppress those mailbox full bounces

Over the years, it has been a common practice to convert certain temporary bounces into permanent bounces after a series of occurrences. Some ESPs will escalate bounces that occur X number of times in a row, or occur for X number of days without a successful delivery. One of the most commonly affected bounce types for these suppressions is Mailbox Full.

Mailbox full/over quota bounces are considered by many to be a symbol of a dead address. With the nigh-unlimited storage found in most mailboxes these days, no one who actually checks their email should ever have a full mailbox…right?

Not necessarily. In a new blog post on the MessageGears blog, I sat down with Senior Product Owner of Cloud Operations Nick Zeich-Lopez (aka. ‘Mr. Data’). We pored over results from over 20 billion deliveries and found some surprising results.

For starters, the data showed that of those recipients who experienced a Mailbox Full bounce, over 8% engaged with a subsequent email in the next 7 days and over 31% engaged with an email over the course of the next 12 months.

As a sender who’s suppressing Mailbox Full bounces after the first occurrence, you could be losing nearly 1/3 of those recipients for no reason. At the least, it’s worth some analysis of your own data (or your ESP’s) — you’ll likely find some room for improvement in how you’re handling these bounces.

For the details — along with our findings on bounces caused by spam, delivery timeouts, and DNS errors — check out the full post.

– BG

Industry Updates

Gmail tab weirdness

A few days ago I had a client who mentioned seeing something unusual in their Gmail testing. Their messages, which usually end up in the Promotions tab, had been hitting the Primary tab for almost two weeks. They reported clients had seen the same behavior. It’s not unheard of for this to happen at Gmail, but typically it lasts no more than a couple of days.

Turns out, lots of people have been asking the same question to the team at 250ok. Matt Vernhout confirmed via blog post yesterday that the deliverability tools provider is seeing this behavior as well.

There is no official acknowledgement from Google, although yesterday @Gmail replied to a Twitter user’s complaint with instructions on moving mail between tabs:

– BG

Industry Updates

Seeing red at Google Postmaster?

If you logged into your Google Postmaster Tools dashboard late yesterday or today, you may have been greeted with a troubling sight in the IP reputation graph:

From what we can tell, it appears to be an issue on Google’s end. I’ve checked dozens of IP reputations and all show nothing but red for December 10th data, and many in industry forums have reported the same.

Open rates at Gmail appear to be unaffected in my own data, and Laura at Word to the Wise provided some reassurance via Twitter:

Lots of comments this morning about GPT showing bad IP reputation for EVERYTHING this morning. Checked one of my clients on big shared pool and even those IPs dropped to ‘bad’ over night.
Don’t Panic! This is a reporting issue, not a reputation one.— Laura Atkins (@wise_laura) December 12, 2019

No word from Google of course, but since this seems like just a display issue we can all go back to freaking out about other email metrics during this busy holiday season.

– BG

Industry Updates

Google Postmaster Tools issues drag into second week

Last week we told you about an outage with Google’s Postmaster Tools data, which was missing data starting on 8/16 (many domains had data for 8/17). According to my own data and reports from others, data was populated for most domains late on 8/21 with data for 8/20 but nothing between 8/17-8/20. For the domains I track, it seems 8/21 data was added for some domains but not others, and no domain has anything past 8/21 at this point.

The ‘Last 7 days’ view of IP reputation looks a bit bare.

At the end of last week we assumed the issue was resolved, but it appears data is still missing in many instances. Spam Rate, IP & Domain Reputation, FBL, Authentication, Encryption, and Delivery Errors are all missing data for the same days. Word on the street hints at something new in GPT (but doesn’t it always?), but we’ll just have to keep refreshing that page until Google makes an announcement or something new appears.

– BG

Industry Updates

UPDATED: More blips at Google Postmaster Tools

Multiple reports have been coming in about Google’s Postmaster Tools data being missing for the past few days. Most reports indicate no data since 8/17, but some of my own domains were last updated on 8/16 even though they sent volume on the 17th.

Generally, GPT data runs a full 1-2 days behind, so the data for 8/17 was likely updated sometime the evening of 8/18. Even so, that leaves us on 3 days without updates. Not terribly uncommon, but many of us are still shook up after the 2-week-plus outage back in June. As usual, there’s been no official acknowledgement from Google.

GPT is a free tool, but it’s the only real insight (directly from Google) we as senders have into Google’s black box of mail filtering. I’m sure it’s not the highest priority project over there, but we sure do miss it when it’s not working properly.

UPDATE 8/22: Sometime last night EST Google appears to have populated data for 8/20 in my own instance and those of multiple others I’ve asked. Data is still missing for 8/18-8/19 (and 8/17 for a couple of my domains). Updates to the data generally happen for me late afternoon EST, so I’ll watch for any new data or backfilling later today.

– BG

Industry Updates

Extended Telus email outage could be hurting your open rates

If you’ve sent mail to Canadian recipients over the past few days, there’s a good chance your engagement rates have been lower than expected. Telus, a major Canadian telecom and mailbox provider, has experienced a multi-day outage of their email system starting last Thursday (August 15th).

Reports have been mixed about the exact impact and scope – Telus claimed on Friday that only 10% of customers were still impacted, then issued an apology video Saturday night in the midst of continued problems. The Telus website carries a banner linking to an Update page. Among the information here, Telus directs users to a temporary webmail account that has been created for them and states that the “old” mailboxes are being rebuilt. No timeline is given for this process.

Will Telus be able to recover all the emails lost since last Thursday? Time will tell, but it’s a safe bet at least some mail will be lost in the process. As a sender, you should evaluate the volume of traffic sent to Telus since 8/15 and whether to halt sending to those addresses until full resolution is received. At a minimum, you’ll have a good explanation when management asks why your engagement rates took a dive.

– BG

Industry Updates

UPDATED – More Google Postmaster Tools weirdness?

Reports have been trickling in today that senders are seeing spikes in “Bad” reputation in Google’s IP Reputation Postmaster page. In checking my own instance, I found at least 3 major senders whose IPs have been 100% Good for months, then 75% or more in the Bad status for July 3rd.

The results appear to be spotty, but multiple industry folks have mentioned seeing similar behavior in popular forums today. No official word from Google yet, but we’ll keep an eye on this and update as news comes in.

UPDATED 1:45PM EST – After further analysis, deliverability to Gmail does not seem to be affected for clients I’ve checked, and a few others have reported the same. Domain reputation also appears to be unaffected for me, but some others have reported changes in domain reputation that may or may not be related. In any case, these blips certainly lend credence to the loudly-whispered theory that major US holidays wreak havoc on GPT data, with yesterday being Independence Day here in the States.

Industry Updates

Google Postmaster Tools data update

As of now, data seems to be trickling into my own Google Postmaster Tools display, with some monitored domains showing current data (i.e. 2-3 days ago, as is standard in GPT).

The data is still spotty, though: some domain reputation listings show data points for each day while others show nothing between the 13th and now. IP reputation appears to still be missing for the outage period for the domains I’ve checked that are showing anything since June 13th.

Obviously the issue is not entirely resolved, but it’s nice to see something showing up after 2 weeks of dead silence.

– BG

Industry Updates

Another extended Google Postmaster Tools outage

There’s no surer way to have things break than to take a vacation, and it seems that adage again rings true in the deliverability world. During my own time away from the office, it seems Google Postmaster Tools has stopped reporting data for all categories.

In my own experience – and the experience of many others in industry forums – no data has been provided for any tab since June 13th. As usual, there is no official statement from Google but word is that a Google rep has acknowledged they are working on the issue.

While it’s not uncommon for GPT to miss a day or two of data here and there, an outage of this length is fairly rare. The last outage of this magnitude was (if I recall correctly) in April of 2018.

There has been some discussion around how these outages often correlate with major US holidays (Easter, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day have all been hit) but there seems to be no confirmation of why. Increased volume causing delays in processing? Resources allocated to higher priority areas? The API upgrade? Whatever the cause, it’s likely we’ll never know for sure.

– BG