Blacklists and multi-client impact: The risk is real

You hear stories sometimes. About how when a deliverability person warns sales that they shouldn't sign that client, but the client comes aboard anyway. "If they do bad things, so what? It shouldn't impact other clients. We'll give them their own domain, their own IPs, and it'll be fine."

Are you sure?

Too many times now, I've seen blacklists like SORBS or Spamhaus blacklist whole ESPs or whole large blocks of IP addresses at an ESP. I bet it's not fun explaining to client #2 that their bounce rate jumped to 50%+ because of the bad acts of client #1.

And this isn't just something that happened in the past. Just about two weeks ago I saw Spamhaus blacklist 255 IP addresses at a particular email service provider due to the actions of a single client. (The listing is since removed, so I can't link to it. And my goal isn't to name-and-shame, so I'm not mentioning which ESP it is. If you're smart, maybe you can figure it out.)

You might argue that Spamhaus appled too broad a stick and perhaps they shouldn't have done that. You might be right. Complain all you want, though, but you can't control Spamhaus, and neither can I, and neither can that ESP. But that ESP can control what clients they allow to use their services, so I would argue that they did have a way that they could have prevented this.

Assuming that one client's bad practices won't affect other clients is a risky proposition.

And I'm not even touching on what this kind of thing does to an ESP's reputation. If you want to be a member of M3AAWG, or if you want ISP people to respond to you favorably when you sometimes ask for help out of band, you need to not have the reputation that your platform will take any client, even ones with bad practices.

Let's go buy a list!

Is buying an email list a good idea? Let's ask around.

Hubspot's got the best quick summary, in my opinion. They say buying an email is a bad idea because:
  1. Reputable email marketing services don't let you send emails to lists you've bought.
  2. Good email address lists aren't for sale.
  3. People on a purchased or rented list don't actually know you.
  4. You'll harm your email deliverability and IP reputation.
  5. You can come across as annoying.
  6. Your email service provider can penalize you.
Don't believe them? Ask Campaign Monitor.
Don't believe Campaign Monitor? Ask Constant Contact.
Don't believe Constant Contact? Ask Godaddy.
Don't believe Godaddy? Ask HostGator.
Don't believe HostGator? Ask SparkPost.
Don't believe SparkPost? Ask GetResponse.
Don't believe GetResponse? Ask Vertical Response.
Don't believe Vertical Response? Ask WhatCounts.

I could keep going...but you get the idea.

HOWTO: Work around Office 365 Unblocking Issues

If you've previously seen this bounce message:
5.7.606 Access denied, banned sending IP []. To request removal from this list please visit and follow the directions. For more information please go to []"

What about AOL?

If you're wondering if AOL still exists as a separate entity, the answer is no. AOL as a standalone ISP is no more.

What was AOL is now part of Verizon Media Group, which for a time was called Oath.

SPF and DKIM Alignment: What are they and why do they matter?

If you have implemented DMARC for your email sending domain, the spec requires that your messages either pass "SPF alignment" or "DKIM alignment." Here's what those are and why they are important (and why you should always do both).

SPF alignment is where the mail you send has a return-path domain (aka the sender domain or bounce domain) that matches your from address domain. A DMARC record uses the "aspf" setting to govern how tightly this is checked. If you do not include the "aspf" setting (and you don't need to), then the default "relaxed" setting will be applied.

Is email spam a solved problem?

Engadget asks, "Did AI kill off spam and we just didn’t notice?"

I'm not sure about THAT, but this article is still a very interesting read, and a good overview of how CAN-SPAM isn't considered a great law, how e-postage went nowhere (in spite of Bill Gates' help), and what TensorFlow is and why it matters.

Also: Wow! In this article, Neil Kumaran, Product Manager for Gmail, points out that "Gmail blocks about 10 million spam emails a minute." I guess the barbarians are still at the gate.

BIMI: Current Status? Should we bother?

Since lots of folks are reaching out to me, asking for help with BIMI records and/or wondering if it's something they should take the time to implement, I figured I would take a few minutes to explain the current state-of-the-state with regard to BIMI, and help to answer the question of whether or not you should move forward with it.