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What ISPs are and why they are important for email delivery

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published Dec 17, 2011

Email campaigns are one of the best tools that small business can use cost effectively to talk with customers. There are many things needed for a successful email campaign but one of the biggest challenges to overcome is getting email into customer inboxes in the first place. This is what is called email deliverability.

Email addresses are provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - companies who provide email service. Some of the biggest include Yahoo, Google (Gmail), AOL, MSN (Hotmail), Verizon (US), amongst many others. ISP providers each have a range of checks they use to assess what is possible spam and emails that do not meet these guidelines are prevented from getting into their customers email inboxes.

All ISPs of good repute have spam filters which use certain cues (based on their guidelines) to assess arriving emails for ‘spamminess' (the extent to which something is considered spam). The cues may include:

· the use of certain words in the subject line or email text

· lack of details about recipient (suggesting the senders may have harvested the email address from a bot or similar illegal method),

· lack of clear identification of the email sender and various other checks.

ISP filters area good thing of course! Email spam is annoying and dangerous, and we need to have these checks in place to protect us from being ripped off, getting malicious threats or just getting too much unwanted or unrequested junk mail.

More recently, ISPs have also moved to assess emails for their ability to engage with their recipients by reviewing whether delivered emails are opened or not. This has come about because for many people, it is simpler and quicker to remove subscribed emails by reporting it as spam to the ISP provider, instead of unsubscribing. So ISP providers are taking a proactive approach by moving such unread emails to the junk file automatically or by blocking them. Email deliverability is thus becoming harder, even when you follow the rules.

One very good reason you need to avoid being seen as spam is that this affects your sender reputation negatively. As a result, your domain, IP or email address can be added to the ISP's blacklist – a list of all the entities which are related to spammers. As a result of being blacklisted, instead of just one or two emails being blocked, the ISP may consider blocking every email you send to any of their email customers. Considering the size of some of these email providers e.g. Gmail, Hotmail etc, that may constitute a large proportion of your email list. Once blacklisted, it is not easy to remove yourself from this list.

There are several basic things you should have in place to avoid being treated as spam. In our next two articles in this series, we will provide some practical advice on what to consider in improving email deliverability.

© 2012 Southside Marketing Solutions





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