Guest Post: A Guide to Microsoft SNDS

Deliverability Expert Chris Truitt was kind enough to reach out to me after he noticed my prior post lamenting the lack of guidance on what you should do with Microsoft SNDS data. Here are his suggestions for what you should be thinking about when looking at Microsoft SNDS data. Thanks, Chris! -- Al Iverson

Microsoft is still a pretty big deal around the world and Hotmail accounts for a big chunk of active email accounts globally. In an attempt to enhance transparency to senders while making the internet a safer place, Microsoft continues to maintain Smart Network Data Services. SNDS provides a snapshot of the performance or behavior on a sending IP. Once ownership of the sending IP is verified, SNDS can give access to data regarding traffic originating from the IPs including mail volume, complaints, Microsoft Spam traps and an overview of inbox placement.

SNDS displays aggregate results of spam filtering that is applied to all messages. Results are color coded based on filtering and inbox placement. A Green box indicates that over 90% of mail sent to Microsoft owned domains during the active period landed into the inbox. A Red box indicates that 90% landed into the spam folder, and the yellow box allows for the greatest margin, which indicates that spam folder placement is over 10% but less than 90%.

The Spam Trap hit count indicates the number of messages sent to trap accounts managed by Microsoft. An important note here is Spam traps do not subscribe to mail, thus anything that is sent to a trap address is considered spam. The two ways to avoid hitting spam traps are by collecting addresses on a permission basis, meaning all contacts should directly opt-in with the sender, and keeping a tidy list of email contacts. Microsoft references NDR, which implies that their spam traps are in part comprised of recycled addresses or those that were abandoned by the email recipient and have bounced for several months. The idea here is astute senders actively monitor each delivery and should clean out the NDR contacts that bounce for inactivity. This routine cleanup is maintenance that spammers rarely take.

The SNDS program is not designed to be an end all, be all or a final grade of the IP health per Microsoft, but rather an indicator or single data point to help paint a picture of the potential to reaching the inbox at a given time. The data presented in SNDS can help senders and email services make informed decisions to improve processes and strategies enhancing inbox placement and to reduce spam. This creates a symbiotic relationship between senders and the ISP. ISPs spend countless dollars trying to fight spam, while senders spend a lot of resources and time trying to get mail to the inbox. This data serves both parties well, as it gives senders the essentials that aids them in refocusing strategically to target the right contacts and eliminate the inactive addresses of their contact lists.

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