Gmail & B2B Spam

A client recently reminded me of Gmail's yellow bar that explains why a message went to spam. I decided to pull up the last few spams out of my spam folder and check the yellow "why" bar. Why is this message in Spam? It's similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters. Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from are spam. Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from are spam. Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from are spam.

If Gmail says that these three sending domains seem to be spammy, who am I to argue?

(If you recognize your company name there, maybe it's time to reconsider your B2B strategy. I never signed up for your emails. Send a lot of mail to people who didn't sign up for it, and that's what happens.)

AOL/Yahoo Transition Update: AOL DMARC & FBL Reports

AOL Postmaster Lili Crowley posted an update yesterday to the AOL Postmaster Blog regarding the future of DMARC and FBL reports from the AOL platform.

Here's my summary of that information:

For DMARC reports: AOL is saying that the MX records for their domains are in the process of being transitioned from AOL inbound email servers to new email servers. As each domain's MX record is transitioned, AOL will no longer send DMARC reports for that domain. Any DMARC reports for that domain will now come from Yahoo.

(These are reports that you get from other ISPs, when you have a DMARC record in place that specified that reports should be sent providing information about DMARC failures. Most people feed these into a DMARC-specific automation platform for parsing and reporting. Not everybody has this / does this.)

For ISP Feedback Loop reports (spam complaints): AOL is saying that currently, FBL reports for AOL users on AOL domains will continue to come from AOL. But, at some point in the (very?) near future, these AOL users' mailboxes will be transitioned to new infrastructure. When that happens, AOL FBL reports from that user will cease. That user is now covered by Yahoo's Feedback Loop, and if that user reports an email message as spam, it will be handled in accordance with Yahoo's FBL process.

In my estimation, it's very likely that the transitioning of all AOL users' mailboxes to new infrastructure will take some amount of time. It seems quite likely that there will be a period of time when some of those AOL users are on AOL infrastructure (resulting in AOL FBL traffic) while you see some other AOL users sending in complaints via the Yahoo FBL process.

If you sign all mail with DKIM authentication, and you register your domains with Yahoo's FBL system, you should be all set. If not, it's time to get that process going.

List-Unsubscribe header: You need it!

Allow me to distill this very insightful article from Word to the Wise down to four simple points:

  1. Microsoft wants you to include the list-unsubscribe header. And today, you'll want to use the "mailto" version, not the "http" version.
  2. If you don't, Microsoft is going to make it very easy for Hotmail/ subscribers to BLOCK your mail, when in fact they perhaps only wanted to unsubscribe.
  3. If subscribers BLOCK your mail, they're not going to get any followup transactional mail, which isn't great. Or if they opt-in again later, they won't receive that new mail.
  4. It's unclear whether or not this BLOCK action registers some sort of negative reputation market against a sender, but I suspect it does.

I've seen some folks complain that the list unsubscribe header is bad and that it should be removed, because it makes it too easy for recipients to unsubscribe from a company's marketing email messages. Well, here's a very significant downside that can apply to you if you don't have (or if you remove) the list-unsubscribe header from your email messages.

Isleton Spam Festival: There's still time

You've got just over two weeks until it's time for Isleton, California's Spam Festival. The February 18th affair has in the past offered up treats like SPAM Fudge, SPAMbalaya, and -- good lord -- a SPAM-eating contest? Read all about it here. Be sure to drop me a line if you happen to attend.

AOL Announces Mail System MX Changes

As expected, AOL announced yesterday that the MX records for their domains are being updated:

As AOL and Yahoo come together under the OATH umbrella, we will merge the mail infrastructure serving our consumer brands.

As a first step, starting this week, the majority of AOL's MX records will point to our new combined servers. This should be transparent to any sender as those servers will operate in simple pass-through mode. This means senders with established FBLs will continue to receive them from our AOL mail infrastructure.

While we do not foresee any issues, you are welcome to reach out to the AOL postmaster team at if you should encounter anything.

Over the next few months we will continue to make adjustments as we further combine our systems. Watch this space for additional notes in the future.

Thanks to the folks at AOL/Yahoo/OATH for taking the time to make a public statement about this. Transparency is a good thing, and this is much appreciated.