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EEC15 – Some ISP myths busted

February 10, 2015

It is not often you get the gatekeepers of leading ISP's in a room together and even less often that they are willing to answer questions. But this is exactly what happened for the closing keynote of the 2015 Email Evolution conference in Miami. Paul Rock (AOL), Matthew Moleski (Customer security operations at Comcast), Sri Somanchi (Gmail Anti-spam team) and John Scarrow (Outlook.com) gave an brief insight into the issues they face and answered some direct questions from the audience.

Sometimes it is easy to think of the ISP's as the bad guys trying to stop us delivering our emails to the very people who signed up to read them. What we have to remember is that 95% of all the email that ISP's receive is spam. And the bad type of spam. The emails trying to extort money. They are driven by their customers to only deliver to the inbox what the customer wants in their inbox.

Not an easy job. People sign up to receive emails and then mark it as spam as soon as they receive it and then when the next email lands in their junk folder they complain to the ISP that the spam filtering isn't working.

There are lots of myths and rumours about how the ISP's filter email and what you can do to improve delivery. Below are three questions answered by the panel which help to dispell some of these myths.

ISP's are looking at opens and clicks to see who is engaging with your emails and use this to adjust your reputation ?

Not true. Well almost.  They never look at clicks made within an email and opening the email doesn't affect your global reputation. Although it might have a small affect on how your email is delivered to that persons mailbox. I will explain in more detail in a follow up blog.

ISP's recycle email addresses and convert some of them to spam traps ?

Not true. None of the providers ever recycle email addresses. Outlook will turn off an email account if nobody logs in for 2 years and AOL will disabled an inbox after a period of inactivity but no email addresses get re-used. AOL said in the past they have converted some old accounts to spam traps in the past and didn't comment on whether they still do.

Does the subject line directly affect deliverability ?

No. The words don't matter but whether the recipient opens the email or does something with it does could affect future delivery to the users inbox.   You want the subject line to engage the recipient and get them to open or save the email.  Deleting the email without opening is not a good sign.

It was good to hear from the people who actually know what is happening and reminded me that the ISP's are doing a great job for their users in a world that is constantly changing.



Posted by Simon Hill

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