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Spamhaus just woke up. Are you ready?


Timely! I just blogged recently talking about what you should do if you get blocklisted by Spamhaus, and now Spamhaus just posted this: Poor sending practices trigger a tidal wave of informational listings. What does it all mean and should you be concerned? Let me explain.

What Spamhaus is referring to is a recent uptick in SBL entries (blocklistings) for ESP/CRM senders -- informational listings -- that were almost like a big ole bomb dropped out of nowhere. ESPs were waking up to a dozen or more listings for their clients, seemingly out of nowhere, wondering what changed.

To make this a little bit easier to handle, these new listings are "informational" in nature. "Informational listings" are something that Spamhaus has done for a while now, where they will warn you of an SBL listing, but not actually configure the listing to cause mail to block. It means the client or company sending from that IP address does have significant list hygiene issues -- that they are a problem sender, in spite of the "friendly" or "ghost" nature of the informational listing. (An informational listing is very kind in that a full SBL listing (non-informational) would result in blocking at tons of top ISPs; bounce rates will skyrocket, deliverability will plummet. The intent here is Spamhaus giving marketers room to breathe; time to cleanup lists and address data issues without having bounces rain down upon them while trying to fix things.)

What's new about this whole thing is that it feels like Spamhaus has woken up from a bit of a slumber and decided to start paying more attention to email marketing senders anew. In my unscientific and completely biased opinion, there was a period of time where Spamhaus wasn't broadly targeting marketing senders -- perhaps it would be fair to say that their attention comes and goes. My guess would be that they have competing priorities as far as projects and targets internally, and that their focus is likely to evolve over time. And they themselves explain in the article that their spam detection abilities are improving over time.

Regardless of why they didn't "catch" a particular sender yesterday, but did today, it's clear from a company's IP address landing on the SBL -- a listing being "informational" in nature or not -- means that mail from that IP address is indeed being sent to bad addresses -- to spam trap addresses -- and even without Spamhaus's notice, this mail or these particular sending practices are likely to lead to deliverability issues.

In this new article, Spamhaus kindly hits the highlights as far as what might be causing the underlying issues: problems with permission, lack of proper bounce processing, or failure to sunset inactive subscribers (aka focusing on engagement). All solid advice as far as a starting point for troubleshooting a list hygiene issue.

Want my advice? If you're a marketing sender, be prepared. Don't wait to end up in Spamhaus's cross-hairs. They're combing through data and are likely to find bad senders sooner or later, but if you take the initiative and make sure you're doing everything you can to prevent list hygiene and deliverability issues, you might just be able to avoid this whole problem to begin with.

>>> Find more on on this topic here, from my Kickbox colleague Jennifer Nespola Lantz: The Spamhaus Informational Listing Spree.

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