International Yahoo Domains to get DMARC "Reject" Policy

You may recall that Yahoo initially implemented a "p=reject" DMARC policy back in April, 2014 for their primary yahoo.com domain name. (And AOL did the same for aol.com shortly after.) This changed the email landscape significantly. Now, nearly two years later, the email landscape is a different one. Email discussion lists needed updating to keep up, but even with limitations inherent, many of us consider DMARC to be a successful tool in the spam and/or fraud fighting arsenal.

Yahoo implemented a "p=reject" DMARC policy for their ymail.com and rocketmail.com domains in November, 2015.

Today, Yahoo announced on the DMARC-Discuss mailing list that they are implementing a p=reject DMARC policy for forty-six different Yahoo international domains on March 28, 2016.

Update: On Monday, March 7th, Yahoo updated the list, adding sixteen additional domains. The full list is below.

Let's Talk About Leadgen & Payday Loans

Over at Spamtacular, Mickey Chandler explains why he, like so many other smart deliverability people (including myself) take issue with lead generation and payday loan senders. The example he cites is a pretty egregious example of sharing and horribly misusing individuals' data. YUCK.

Prune Inactive Subscribers: Y/N?

MailChimp recently published a smart, data-driven take on how best to deal with inactive subscribers, suggesting that keeping them around makes the most sense.

It's not bad advice, but there's a few very important asterisks to add to it.

Nobody told the little robot that mailing inactives causes bulk foldering. :(
If you can get mail to those unengaged subscribers, then I'm sure that MailChimp's guidance is sound. But here are three common scenarios where mailing inactive subscribers are going to cause you deliverability heartburn. If you can't get to the inbox, you mail won't get noticed, and you're not going to get any revenue benefit from mailing inactive subscribers. Nor are you going to get much revenue benefit from your engaged subscribers, since they're now not seeing your mail in the inbox. Thus, you have to weigh the potential revenue benefit versus the deliverability risk. In these three scenarios, the risk is too great and I believe it outweighs any potential benefit.
  1. Asterisk: If you're seeing bulk foldering at ISPs like Yahoo and Gmail, keeping inactive subscribers around is a bad idea. Meaning: We know that these ISPs (and some others) look at engagement as a data point that feeds into the anti-spam equation. You've got enough issues overall that the unengaged subscriber pool is able to have a noticeable, negative impact on your inbox delivery. To fix: Attempt to re-engage, and then suppress, unengaged subscribers.
  2. Asterisk: If your inactive segment contains a bunch of subscribers that are very old, ones that you haven't mailed in a very long time, mailing these is a bad idea. Meaning: Any data you haven't regularly mailed is going to put your ability to get to the inbox at risk when you next mail it. A common kind of spamtrap involves recycling old addresses, making them bounce for 12-18 months before reconfiguring them to feed directly into a spam filter or blacklist. If you sit on a list without mailing it for 18+ months, you're going to have a higher spamtrap hit count than if you mailed it regularly and removed addresses that bounced. Mailing very old list data is a common source of Spamhaus, Cloudmark and other blacklistings. To prevent: Don't send mail to very old lists. If it's been out of commission for 18+ months, it's not safe to mail.
  3. Asterisk: If you've ever had problems with a big anti-spam blacklist like Spamhaus, failing to purge inactive subscribers is a really bad idea. Meaning: The type of bad addresses that got you in trouble with Spamhaus the first time, spamtraps, are hidden within your inactive subscriber segment. You typically are allowed a pass or two to attempt to re-engage those inactive subscribers when remediating the Spamhaus issue, but if you continue to mail inactive subscribers past that point, Spamhaus will see you "hitting" their spamtrap addresses again and you'll be back in hot water. To prevent: Attempt to re-engage, and then suppress, unengaged subscribers. Don't continue to send to unengaged subscribers after the re-engagement attempt.

Outlook.com (Microsoft Windows Live Hotmail) Issues Today

I'm hearing from multiple sources that some mail to outlook.com / live.com / hotmail.com recipients is bouncing unexpectedly today. Errors include dropped connections and "554 Transaction failed" bounces.

Microsoft is aware of the issue and is working on it.

Don't trust those bounces until things are fixed; I see mail to legitimate hotmail.com subscribers on my own mailing lists getting rejected unexpectedly.

(Update: As of approximately 2pm US Central time on Thursday, February 18th, Microsoft is reporting that the issue is resolved.)

Outlook.com Got a Big Update Today

Lifehacker and Litmus both tipped me off to the fact that Outlook.com email users got quite a significant update to their user interface today. You can read all about it here and here.

In case you don't remember, this of course used to be called Microsoft Live Hotmail. Users were transitioned to Outlook.com back in 2012.

(Update: Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise let us know that Outlook.com also now has a new URL to visit if you're a sender experiencing blocks and would like to request that blocking be removed. That URL is https://sender.office.com/ )

Mail.ru to Adopt p=reject DMARC Policy

Today on the DMARC-Discuss mailing list, a representative of Mail.ru announced that they plan to move to a restrictive p=reject DMARC policy.

They plan to start with the domain my.com, moving this domain to a p=reject DMARC policy on March 1, 2016. They plan to move other Mail.ru domains (mail.ua, bk.ru, inbox.ru, list.ru and mail.ru) to a p=reject DMARC policy in the future, but have not announced dates.

If you run software that applies a special handling to certain domains, now would be a good time to update that software with these domains, if it is something that must be manually updated. Or better yet, time to ensure that your mailing list software or mail forwarding processes are updated to automatically deal with a p=reject DMARC policy as needed.

Yahoo and AOL have implemented a p=reject DMARC policy for some of their domains, and Gmail has announced plans to do so in the near future. A member of the AOL Postmaster Team has offered suggestions on how to modify mailing list software to handle users at domains with a restrictive DMARC policy, and I have also offered my own suggested best practices for mailing list management software.

How to track ISP delays

Hey, your mail was delayed. Was it delayed inside of the ISP, or was it queued up in your ESP's outbound mail server waiting to connect to Yahoo or Gmail? Here's how to tell.

Contest Signups for Lead Generation: The Good and the Bad

Today's guest post is from deliverability professional Chris Truitt. Here's his take on the impact contest signups have on your deliverability and campaign success.

An ever more popular method of lead generation is through contest offerings. You may have seen such offers at your favorite retail stores or in shopping malls. A few times per year I stumble across a nice shiny new car that I can win. All I need to do is sign up with a valid email address and perhaps be open to receive a few sales calls. This strategy proves very effective to bring in leads, but there’s one problem. The dangling carrot of a new car or new smart phone instantly makes your email offering a byproduct. If you’re not emailing customers to tell them they won, interest in whatever you’re selling instantly diminishes. The ‘win a free ‘insert product here’’ will certainly bring in leads, just not necessarily leads that are interested in what you have to sell.

The astute marketer recognizes the futility of initiating a broad contest offer for the purposes of lead generation. A wide pool of prospects that are only interested in winning usually leaves you with a high number of spam complaints, bounces from contacts that enter fake addresses and little to no conversion rates. The result is your domain reputation took a hit from all of the complaints and bounces your content campaign rendered and your content is far more likely to land in the spam folder. This is not to say that marketers have abandoned this practice entirely. Instead, a more targeted approach has been adopted.

Instead of adopting such as wide approach, like an iPhone give away, offer something that you actually sell in the contest. Even better, make everyone that enters the contest a winner in some form or another. While you obviously can’t give everything away on the shelf, you should certainly have a single grand winner and offer the other contacts a discount for the same product or one that is similar. This is far more compelling and this strategy directly connects the prospects to the items you have stocked on the shelf. You are left with an engaged list of interested prospects that you can market to with your domain reputation intact.

What happened to McAfee and Postini?

Slashdot asked the other day, "Why Are Major Companies Exiting the Spam Filtering Business?" It sounds a bit like they're trying to take two events and define them together as a trend, but I don't think that holds up under scrutiny.

I guess they've got a point about MXLogic. MxLogic was purchased by McAfee in 2009. McAfee was bought up by Intel in 2010. And now Intel has announced that McAfee's Software-as-a-Service anti-spam solution will be shut down in January, 2017. They're recommending Proofpoint as an alternative solution. So they certainly seem to be saying bye-bye.

But they also talk about Postini. Google purchased Postini in 2007. They later announced that they were shutting down Postini, with users to be transitioned to Google Apps by sometime in 2015. This, to me, is somewhat less of a surprise -- I think it was obvious that Google purchased Postini to shore up its own anti-spam efforts, and I'm sure whatever Google felt was useful about Postini probably made its way into Gmail or Google Apps' own spam filtering functionality. So Postini didn't really disappear so much as become some tiny little hidden bit of Google.

Spam filtering still seems like a big, lucrative deal to me. It's certainly a selling point for Google Apps, and other B2B and B2C providers spend lots of money on perfecting spam filtering. Thus, I don't think that it's accurate to say that something must be up here, that "big companies are exiting the space," because it only really seems like Intel is the one saying they don't want to be a part of that space. What do you think, dear reader?

Reference: Yahoo Email Domains

Sometimes it comes in handy to know all of the common domains associated with a given Internet Service Provider (ISP) or webmail provider.

I believe these are all of the most common email domains associated with Yahoo! Mail, according to what I can recall, with help from this Port25 forum post.

Yahoo Domains:
yahoo.com
ymail.com
rocketmail.com
yahoo.co.uk
yahoo.fr
yahoo.com.br
yahoo.co.in
yahoo.ca
yahoo.com.ar
yahoo.com.cn
yahoo.com.mx
yahoo.co.kr
yahoo.co.nz
yahoo.com.hk
yahoo.com.sg
yahoo.es
yahoo.gr
yahoo.de
yahoo.com.ph
yahoo.com.tw
yahoo.dk
yahoo.ie
yahoo.it
yahoo.se
yahoo.com.au
yahoo.co.id

Anybody got any others that I've missed? Feel free to share in comments and I'll update this list.