Monday, March 29, 2010

The Postman always rings twice, but how often do you ‘ring’ the Postmaster?

Great post from Sweeney Williams, one of the Email Deliverability gurus who helps keep Eloqua head and shoulders above any other marketing automation platforms when it comes to the critical issue of getting your email delivered.


I get asked quite often about how / where I find out about best practices when delivering to an ISP, removing blocks, etc. and there are a few answers there. The main one is that ISPs tell EVERYONE who takes a bit of time to look.

How do they do this? Via Postmaster pages, which are sites set up to provide delivery information specific to those ISPs. The Postmaster is the person / group of people responsible for email traffic in and out of that ISP’s network.

Something I find gets lost all too often when discussing ISP delivery with clients is that ISPs do not have a bias against email marketers and by no means do they look to block as many as possible. They are also not tirelessly trying to find new ways to send your legitimate mail to the Junk folder. They are, by large measure good natured folks who simply want to ensure their clients get the mail they want, and none of the mail they don’t. Stop and think about that for a moment…it’s not about ‘blocking’ or ‘filtering’, it’s about ‘allowing’, but ONLY allowing WANTED mail. They are working to ensure the best possible email experience for their users, which means allowing only good email in.

This is an enormous task when you consider the sheer volume of email that is incessantly trying to enter their networks. Coupled with that is the economic reality of shrinking Postmaster teams, at times pared down to one or two individuals, in the face of an ever growing stream of SPAM email. One way to ensure that legitimate mail does not get erroneously flagged as SPAM is to tell legitimate marketers what is required to achieve the best possible delivery.

I am not going to list all Postmaster sites here, as that would take away the fun of searching (hint: there may be a Word to the Wise somewhere that could help), but do want to highlight a couple of my favorites: Yahoo! and AOL.

The Postmaster site for Yahoo! is and provides information about their SPAM policy, SMTP error codes (I hope you’re checking that Bounceback History report every once in a while), and even My email is being blocked by Yahoo! Mail. What can I do?

By the way, you can even find out if there are inbound mail issues that can affect your mailings here:

The Postmaster site for AOL is and takes things even farther. Not only does it list information about error codes, block removal, best practices, and authentication, it also has a relatively new and incredibly cool feature: AOL IP Reputation!

That’s right – you can find out EXACTLY how AOL views your mail via their internal reputation system located at Simply plug in your IP address and you can see if your reputation is Good, Neutral, or Poor:

They then link to resources that can help you correct issues that may have led to a poor reputation. I think this is a great feature and hope that others follow suit.

As always, the best way to ensure you get into the Inbox is to keep your data clean and your content relevant, but too much information is never a bad thing. Visit the Postmaster from time to time and see what’s listed.