Checking in on our Bulk Email Server’s Bona Fides
As it so often happens with email delivery, we think everything is honky dory with our servers until we get a call from a customer who says either (a) they're not getting the emails from their Contact Us form, or (b) their own customers aren't getting the bulk emails they send out. Such was the call we received from Patrick, who has all email generated by the Contact Us form on his RocketFusion website forward to his Gmail address.
Generally we find that it's a particular ESP (Email Service Provider), such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo, that is blocking our emails, or dropping them into the Spam or Junk folders. This happens from time to time if they receive a lot of email from us, and either many of the addresses in a particular customer's contact list are no longer good, or many of the recipients at a particular ESP click the "this is spam" button in their email interface. The latter happens the most with Yahoo and AOL.
I wrote about my travails in this area back in March of 2014, here: Ten-Days-of-Email-Hell
What has changed since I wrote that article is the following:
Of all the major ESPs, Microsoft (hotmail, msn, live) and AOL have provided reputation reporting tools for years.
Yahoo continues to be unresponsive in terms of email server support, which is problematic because they're definitely one of the top emailed to domains. It's been like this since I started hosting email back in 2002. I mean, seriously guys... your verification tool is broken, and emails to support go unanswered.
Comcast has a Feedback Loop. Verizon provides no known reputation reporting. Still looking...
We have subscribed to all the Feedback Loops we can:
The good news is Gmail has now finally gotten into the reputation reporting game. Simply provide them the IP number of your email server, add a special verification code to your DNS file, and you now have access to all kinds of reporting on your server.
They also have created an interesting Feedback Loop tool. Once your server is registered with them, you simply have to add a special header, called Feedback-ID, to every email you send from your server, with the following information, and they'll give you all sorts of reports on your various email campaigns.
You can read more about the Feedback Loop tool on their website, but here it is in a nutshell:
The Feedback-ID header's value is read right-to-left...
In the above case, Gmail would send the spam percentages for each of the 4 Identifiers independently, and show if they had an unusual spam rate. This is good information to know, and will be very helpful to combat grey-listing or black-listing our servers.
Well, let me tell you, I was excited. It took me all of ten minutes to implement everything Gmail has to offer, and have fully implemented their Feedback Loop system, shown above.
This is important stuff, folks. Look at these two tables, left and right. The table on the left shows the number of per-domain email accounts on the most prolific bulk emailing customer we have (based in NH). They send out two emails a week to everyone in their database... nearly 12,000 customers altogether. Gmail accounts for 4,639 of those customers, a little over 1/3 of them all.
The table on the right shows our second most prolific bulk emailing customer (based in Western Mass). Gmail is their #1 sent-to domain. Yahoo is #2.
If Gmail were to start blocking all our emails, it would be devestating.
We will continue to try to get in to Yahoo's system, but until then, know that we're doing our best to stay on top of the email server issues.
Posted: to Mik's Blog, sort of... on Tue, May 24, 2016
Updated: Tue, May 24, 2016