March 2, 2015
This is probably the most discussed topic from the closing keynote of EEC 2015 (see my previous post for a list of panel members). For a number of years it has been widely accepted (by most) that ISP's use a recipients engagement with your email as a weighting towards your overall reputation. It was assumed they did this by monitoring the opens and links clicked with your emails.
Lets start by looking at delivery reputation at an ISP. There is the global reputation for the ISP and then the individual users reputation for that mailbox. The later the ISP's call personalisation. What a user does with their incoming email controls their own spam filtering. For example, if a users marks an email as spam twice from a particular sender then it will always go into junk from then on unless they mark it not as junk then it is back to normal.
One thing was clear. All the ISP's said they in no way monitor the links clicked within an email. One or two had thought about doing it but it would involve using a link wrapper and their legal/privacy people really didn't like that idea.
They measure engagement differently
So here is the twist. Engagement as we know it in the ESP world has no effect on your delivery reputation for these ISP's. However they have different engagement metrics that ESP's don't use (or have access to) that could affect your reputation. They do monitor things like "delete without open", "mark as spam", moving email between folders etc. Some actions have a positive engagement weighting such as moving an email from junk to the inbox, adding the email address to your address book and replying to the email.
Some actions have a negative engagement weighting such as deleting an email without opening, marking it as spam or moving it to the junk folder. If you keep sending somebody an email and they keep deleting it without opening then if there is no other engagement then future emails could end up in the junk folder.
Gmail is slightly different in that engagement is only a positive re-enforcement and never a negative one. So good engagment will help you get in the inbox but no engagement won't necessarily stop you getting there on its own.
In summary, ISPs' do use a type of engagement to weight the reputation for local delivery but they are not the standard engagement metrics we are all used to and they do not affect your global delivery reputation.
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