I'm still here!

I'm still here, but blogging has been a bit of a challenge lately as I've picked up new responsibilities at the office and I'm also in the midst of moving across country. So, my apologies as it is likely to be a little while longer before I get back into the thick of things.

In the mean time, make sure you're keeping up with Laura Atkins and Steve Atkins over at Word to the Wise. They're my go-to source for what's going on in the email world.

Text to Image ratios in email

Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise explains: "The text to image ratio is not going to make or break delivery." I've certainly had people try to tell me that they think the secret to inbox placement is based on a certain specific text-to-image ratio. Like Laura, I know that this is not true, and I am happy to link to her excellent explanation of how this all works.

Verizon Email Transition Update

From Network World, here is an update on the winding down of Verizon's email service, which I previously reported on here. When is the transition happening?
"Once customers are notified, they are presented with a personal take-action date that is 30 days from the original notification. If you happen to miss the deadline and still want to retain your address, you can choose Option 1 and switch over to AOL.  
"Based on the current rate of migration it looks like Verizon will probably get through all of the customer notification waves by mid-summer. At that point, the company will assess when the platform might be entirely wound down."
Note: Like I mentioned before, keep in mind that subscribers can indeed keep their verizon.net email if they like. It'll just be handled by AOL's systems and user interface going forward.

Network World says that "Verizon controls 4.5 [million] Verizon.net email accounts, and [Verizon] figures about 2.3 million of them are active." Active meaning that they have been accessed in the last 30 days.

June 26, 2017 Update: As related to me and others by AOL, the Verizon mailboxes that remain have now been transitioned to AOL's mail servers.

New Anti-Phishing Protection in Gmail on Android

Gmail app users on Android, rejoice -- Google just added phishing protection. If you try to click on a link deemed to be problematic, you'll get warned: “The site you are trying to visit has been identified as a forgery intended to trick you into disclosing financial, personal, or other sensitive information,’ the notice states. “You can continue to [the link] at your own risk.”

Read more about it over at the Consumerist.

Why list-unsub doesn't let you "opt-down"?

If you're familiar with the "list unsubscribe" functionality, support for which is implemented in Apple's iOS Mail Client, as well as Gmail and Outlook.com, you might wonder why these implementations might not allow you to land at a preferences page when clicking on the link. Clients have certainly asked me why they aren't allowed to add a step in the middle of this process -- instead of just logging the unsubscribe request, can't they ask the subscriber if they might want to receive fewer emails (opt-down instead of opt-out) or otherwise adjust their preferences, instead of losing them?

The problem here, is differing expectations between marketers and internet service providers (ISPs).

Microsoft's Terry Zink explains specifically why Outlook.com does not support the HTTP method of list-unsubscribe (which would potentially allow driving to a preferences page instead of just capturing an opt-out): Because it's their user interface, and it's up to them (Microsoft) to ensure that their users have the best experience possible, and they really intend this to be a simple "unsubscribe" and nothing more. He explains that #1 the experience is really supposed to be "you are unsubscribed," not click this checkbox or hit this button, and #2, he explains their concerns over the potential for a third-party interface not necessarily spinning up properly, resulting in a poor subscriber experience, and an unlogged unsubscribe request.

Jump on over to Terry Zink's blog post where you can read it in his own words. That, in a nutshell, is why it works the way it does, at least as far as Microsoft's Outlook.com platform is concerned.

Orange UK Email Closure

United Kingdom-based ISP Orange (now part of Everything Everywhere aka EE) has announced that they are shutting down their email service as of May 31, 2017. This affects users at these domains: orange.net, orangehome.co.uk, wanadoo.co.uk, freeserve.co.uk, fsbusiness.co.uk, fslife.co.uk, fsmail.net, fsworld.co.uk, fsnet.co.uk. This does not affect non-UK Orange email users.

Follow this link for more details.

New DMARC Record Lookup Tool

If you use the DNS tools over on XNND, you might notice that the DMARC record lookup feature now links to a new DMARC record lookup tool, kindly provided by Steve Atkins of Word to the Wise. Thanks, Steve!

Senders: What should you do about verizon.net?

As mentioned in a previous post, Verizon recently announced that it is getting out of the email hosting business.

Verizon users are being given a choice. They can:
  • Give up their verizon.net email address; or
  • Continue to use their verizon.net email address, but it will now be hosted by AOL.
Note also that Verizon has yet to announce a deadline as to when users will have to make this choice.

What does this mean for senders? What should senders "do" about verizon.net subscribers?

Truth be told, senders really shouldn't have to do anything here. The email domain verizon.net is not going away. Current users are going to be able to keep their existing email addresses. It is just that going forward, those email addresses will be hosted by AOL.

If a user chooses to give up their verizon.net email address, mail to that address with eventually start bouncing. Any good list management software or ESP platform should be able to denote those bounces and suppress that email address, after it goes dormant. There really shouldn't be any negative impact to email deliverability.

Even if senders wanted to do something with this segment of subscribers -- there isn't much they could do. You could email all of your verizon.net subscribers today, but what would you tell them? You don't know which ones plan to keep their email address and which ones plan to move.

I think all senders really need to do here is:
  1. Keep your regular mailing cadence;
  2. Make sure you have an easy "update your email address" process as part of your email footer; and
  3. Make sure your email platform automatically recognizes and suppresses no-longer-valid email addresses.
Beyond that, really, no special action is needed.

ETA: There's certainly no harm if you want to send all verizon.net users an email message asking them if they want to update their email address. I think it all boils down to how much effort you want to put forth to try to save a percentage of a percentage of users. How big the value you'll get from that is really impossible to measure without doing it. That's why my guidance is to just let the email platform work it out for you.