2020: What's next?

Well, the new year is here. (Along with a new blog template and updated ISP deliverability guides.) What do you think will happen in the deliverability realm in 2020? Here are my first thoughts.

First, DMARC is finally reaching critical mass. No longer an edge-case security feature that your marketing teams ignore, more and more senders finally start to understand that supporting DMARC is easy and should be considered a best practice. DMARC adds complexity to email forwarding, reply handling and mailing list management, so look to experts for assistance if your email use cases would run into any of those realms. But outside of those, DMARC can actually be pretty easy to set up.

Next, get ready to deal with shifting goal posts. What you could "get away with" a few years ago may no longer result in deliverability success. Gmail, in particular, seems to be tightening up filtering and getting better at identifying good versus bad messages in ways they weren't able to previously. Gmail's use of Tensorflow highlights just one aspect of these changes. Marketers can't sit back and just stick with the status quo. It's going to be up to savvy sender to improve engagement metrics, drive more interaction, and focus content and cadence to continue to maintain inbox placement going forward. (And if you were doing things that Gmail didn't like, but hiding it in a shared sending pool of IP addresses sending mail for many senders, you're finding that opportunity is vanishing. Gmail, and others, are getting better at picking you out of the stream.)

Yes, those first two thoughts echo what I said a couple years ago, but they're both very true today and I think they're appropriate considerations. But wait -- there's more!

And finally, look for IP warming to get harder (or at least seem harder) than it was in years past. This really relates to my "shifting goal post" comments above. If you're a marketing sender with three years of history on your sending IP address and domain, and you move to a new email platform or service provider, how ISPs look at you as a new sender on that new IP address, possibly with that new domain, is going to be more stringent today than it would have been in years past. There are multiple reasons and theories behind this. One is, as an ISP looks to improve filtering, they might be applying newer and more rules to newer IP addresses and domains versus applying all of those same new rules to "older" IP addresses. Or maybe they have legacy whitelisting lists that are no longer updated. Sometimes the older IP and domain might be uniquely handled in a way that an ISP no longer offers to newer senders. Combine that with the fact that ISP filters are tighter today than years ago, and it provides a very strong reminder of how important it is to do everything right -- to put your best foot forward -- during IP warming.

I'm sure there's more changes and challenges we're going to run into in 2020. What have I missed? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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