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

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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

Yahoo introduces Google-style image caching in email (UPDATE: confirmed with more details)

Geocache Cache Small Geocaching Logbook In late 2013, Google began to cache all images in email sent to Gmail users, storing remotely-hosted images on their own servers instead of accessing them each time an email is opened. Laura at Word to the Wise wrote up some good info at the time, focusing mainly on the parts of email tracking that were (or were not) affected by the changes.

Fast forward to 2018, and it looks like Yahoo has adopted a similar policy of image caching. According to Litmus, Yahoo recently began caching images on their servers in the same manner as Google. And like Google’s version, this one won’t break open tracking –  but could cause some unusual data points or issues with geolocation or user agent tracking. If you track the location of email opens, you’re likely to start seeing a lot more traffic from Sunnyvale, CA (the location of Yahoo’s servers), and any dynamically-generated content based on the location of the recipient will reflect that. In fairness, IP geolocation has never been a precise science, so most marketers should rely on other signals along with that data to serve up location-specific content.

When Google introduced this feature, they used it as a platform to allow images to load by default for all mail sent to the Inbox. There has been no announcement or indication thus far, but Is it possible Yahoo is planning a similar feature? As with most of the changes taking place under the new Oath umbrella; we’ll just have to wait and see. Yes, according to the answers provided by the Yahoo Engineering blog.

This morning, they officially announced the change, also confirming images will now be on by default for Yahoo and AOL in desktop and mobile versions. We can likely presume this applies only to messages in the inbox, though no specifics are provided. The post also indicates that Yahoo will “continue to support most” open tracking via pixel, though again details are sparse.

And for those using IP geolocation to serve dynamic content, the authors “recommend falling back on other tools and technologies which do not rely on IP-based targeting.” I won’t say I told you so.

– BG

Industry Updates

AOL mail seeing Yahoo deferrals as mail integration continues

170403180613-yahoo-aol-oath-780x439A few weeks ago we told you about AOL’s migration of their MX servers to Yahoo’s infrastructure as part of the merger of the two entities under Verizon’s new Oath brand. Since that change in early February, mail to AOL recipients has been handled by Yahoo’s servers. No specifics have been released on how the combined mail system will handle filtering, but observations of recent bounces may shed some light on that.

Over the past 2-3 weeks a number of senders have been seeing the dreaded “Yahoo deferrals” from recipients with AOL email addresses. These deferrals – temporary bounces usually caused by a high complaint rate – occur frequently for many high-volume senders mailing Yahoo recipients. These bounces are typically returned in a format similar to the following:

421 4.7.0 [XXXX] Messages from XX.XX.XX.XX temporarily deferred due to user complaints – X.X.X.X; see https://help.yahoo.com/kb/postmaster/SLN3434.html

The appearance of these types of bounces when sending to AOL recipients means you now have to contend not only with AOL’s spam filtering but with that of Yahoo. While AOL is known for its useful resources and responsive Postmaster team, the Yahoo Mail team can be more difficult to reach when issues arise. If you do run into any of these bounces, it’s probably a good idea to reach out to Yahoo via their Support form since the filtering is occurring on their mail servers.

– BG

Industry Updates

AOL confirms move to shared mail infrastructure with Yahoo

Last week I wrote about the changes taking place at major email providers, specifically the convergence of AOL and Yahoo’s mail servers. Today on their Postmaster blog, AOL issued confirmation of these changes. The statement indicates the “majority of AOL’s MX records” will be routed to the new combined mail servers with little if any visible impact to senders.

The message also assured senders that established feedback loops (FBLs) should continue to function without interruption. While AOL notes that issues are unlikely, if you see any abnormalities postmaster@aol.com remains the best way to reach out for assistance.

– BG

Industry Updates

Changes

bowie-change
courtesy securosis.com

New year, new you…that’s what they always say, right? Just a few weeks into 2018, it seems like some of the big 4 ISPs (soon to be Big 3?) are really taking that concept to heart.

Microsoft’s major migration of Outlook.com to the Office365 backend was technically completed in 2017, but based on feedback from senders in industry groups delivery issues still abound. The indications from MS are that the mail handling and filtering infrastructure are a work in progress, but no formal statement has been issued to that end. Some senders have stated MS support is unable to provide remediation for many of these issues, even though there may be backend adjustments taking place. If you’re having trouble getting mail to Microsoft, just know you’re not alone and that someone over there is paying attention.

Verizon ended its own webmail service last year, and consolidated its AOL and Yahoo brands under the Oath moniker. AOL and Yahoo’s email services have remained separate thus far, but indications are that will change in the next few days. It’s been reported that the merger of these mail platforms starts in earnest on or around February 1st. As of that date, mail to AOL will be routed and handled by the Yahoo mail servers. To me this sounds a bit like the SBCGlobal arrangement between AT&T/BellSouth and Yahoo, wherein one provided the mail interface while the other handled the mail routing and filtering. At this time, no formal announcement has been made, so we’ll have to sit tight to find out exactly what this means for sending to AOL recipients.

– BG