Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo!

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1 Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

2 Thanks to better ways to filter and block spam, inboxes are nearly free of unwanted mail, but not without a price. According to past Return Path studies, permissioned about 20% of the time. based never reaches its intended destination your customers inboxes deliverability today is driven by content and reputation filtering. While it would be great if there was a single algorithm that all of the mailbox providers used, there isn t. Gmail,, and Yahoo! Mail all have their own unique spam filtering rules and services to help senders. Our field guide aims to help businesses strapped for time. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! overcome confusion from the different rules of deliverability, or those who are just

3 Gmail Unlike many of its large competitors, Gmail doesn t provide feedback loops, whitelists, disclose use of public blacklists or provide a lot of direction, tools or support for senders. Don t worry about the lack of information Gmail provides. We re here to help. Gmail by the Numbers How Google Works - The Story of Send Launched: 2004 Active Users as of 2012: 425 Million U.S. mobile users using the Gmail app: 44.3%* How many days prior to Gmail s launch it took to design the Gmail logo: 1 Number of addresses that can be created by adding a + symbol in front of the address: The year Gmail purchased the domain Gmail.com from Garfield.com: 2005 *(August 2013 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share - comscore, Inc) The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

4 How Gmail Filters Spam Gmail, like many major mailbox providers, primarily uses its Sending History community of users to determine whether is spam or not. Gmail temporarily blocks new IP addresses without a reputation for the first 2 24 hours, then delivers small amounts of mail to both Gmail considers the following user feedback important in their the inbox and the spam folders to gauge subscriber perceptions. spam filtering decisions: If complaints are too high, future s will be delivered mostly to spam. If more people click on not spam during this period, this 1. Report spam indicates that the mail is safe to be delivered to the inbox. 2. Not spam 3. Messages Read Engagement 4. Messages Read and Deleted The number of active Gmail users may influence your reputation, 5. Starred messages and therefore your inbox placement. A look at top brands and 6. Messages replied to the percent of their subscribers that are engaged showing any 7. Inbox Activity activity regardless if its negative or positive shows a strong correlation. Content As with most spam filters, the content of the headers, body and attachments are also scoured for keywords, images, HTML, URLs, malware and many other common components. Content is always tied and added to the overall spam filtering algorithm, but how much weight it carries usually depends on the reputation of the sender. Chart: Brands with higher percentages of active users are more The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! likely to receive inbox placement.

5 None. However, our research shows a correlation between spam filtering at Gmail and Spamhaus. When it comes to having a proper set up, Gmail s advises: Enterprise Filters 1. Consistently send from the same IP address(es) As an aside, it s important to understand that although Google 2. Have valid rdns for sending IP addresses pointing to your owns both Gmail and Postini products, each service utilizes its own Mail Infrastructure Blacklists domain unique proprietary filtering technology. Google Postini Services 3. Use the same From: domain based on the type of is a B2B spam filtering solution used primarily by corporations to 4. Authenticate sending domains with DKIM and SPF subscribers of Google Postini services to Google Apps by the end More on Authentication of SPF and DKIM authentication should be implemented. Be sure that manage their enterprise mail. However, Google is switching current your From: domain matches the d= in your DKIM record. Senders using shared IPs at ESPs should sign DKIM with their own unique filter, Google does provide a Message Analyzer that allows senders signing domain. For example, one should be signing mail with to examine the tags inserted into an header to help decipher something like d=esp.client.com instead of d=esp.com. If for some the reasons for the quarantine. You may find a hint of the issues reason you are not authenticating then Gmail creates a best- with this tool but the only way to figure out how to get through guess record using a combination of record lookups to match your this filter is to constantly test different content. sending IP with your domain to authenticate your . Partners If you find your mail getting stuck in Google Postini Services spam None. Gmail does have thousands of hosted business domains that are using Google Apps. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

6 1. Gmail Bulk Sender Guidelines Postmaster Services 2. Feedback Loop Gmail advises the best way to reach the inbox is by complying Gmail does not offer a feedback loop service in the traditional with their Bulk Sender Guidelines: sense. For senders using the list-unsubscribe header, whenever an is marked as spam, the subscriber will be asked if they want to mark the as spam and/or also unsubscribe Get Permission from future mailings. To prevent abuse of this feature, the Have an Unsubscribe link prominent unsubscribe feature will only work for senders with good Not Spam clicks tells Gmail the messages are solicited reputations in the Gmail network. Like with like use different address, domain, and IP for different types of mail, like promotional and transactional In enable this functionality, the following are required: Senders can submit messages continually delivered to spam, The messages have a list-unsubscribe header which despite following and exceeding best practices, for review on points to an address or an URL that a subscriber can easily their Bulk Sender Contact Form. unsubscribe outgoing with DKIM, and pass at least one authentication protocol The sender has a good reputation within the Gmail system. Sending domains publish an SPF authentication record, sign Publish an SPF record and sign with DKIM Go to Gmail s Bulk Sender Guidelines for more information, or verify your reputation at SenderScore.org, where inbox placement at Gmail and one s Sender Score are highly correlated. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

7 What is list-unsubscribe? To see the list-unsubscribe link, the recipient needs to expand the Josh Baer (Chief Innovation Officer and founder of OtherIn- <<Sender>> to me. This arrow brings down a message details list box, a Return Path company), and his friend Grant Neufeld and the Unsubscribe from this sender hyperlink will appear at the created the list-unsubscribe mechanism in 1998 while still bottom. message details by clicking on the small arrow next to where it says Show Message Details in college. RFC 2369 details the technical specifications of the header, but the concept is simple add a unsubscribe mechanism in the header and providers can offer better unsubscribe functionality than the link buried in the footer of most s that are required by the United State s federal law, CAN-SPAM, as well as other internaitonal laws regulating and spam. Josh Baer also has a website devoted to list-unsubscribe that includes the specification and the participating mailbox providers that use it. Unsubscribe Methods Besides reporting as spam, Gmail users can access the listunsubscribe functionality by showing message details. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! After the hyperlink is clicked, the following is displayed:

8 Whitelists and Prioritized Delivery. This method will trigger a spam complaint, as it s tied to the Report Gmail does not offer their own whitelisting services nor do they Spam functionality. The sender will also receive an unsubscribe subscribe to any third-party whitelists. notification, as shown above. Report Spam and Unsubscribe Gmail s Inboxes Webmail providers have long been offering ways to deal with one s inbox, and one of the drivers behind this is the emergence of what s called graymail. Graymail lies somewhere between essential eye of the beholder most of the time and is rarely black and white, Regardless of the method selected, Gmail will send the following unsubscribe request: s and legitimate spam. Classifying s as spam is in the hence the term gray mail. Graymail is essentially the overwhelming number of newsletters, coupons and advertisements that have been legitimately opted in for, but are non-essential, and over time can be difficult, or just downright annoying, to manage on a dayto-day basis. The Gmail Priority Inbox feature was launched in September 2010 and uses predictive analytics, as well as manual feedback, to iden- Gmail Priority Inbox tify and prioritize important . Gmail predicts if a message is important by examining how messages were treated in the past, such as read or deleted and not read or manually marked as important, how the message is addressed to the recipient, and many The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! other factors.

9 User Interface Features How to Mark as important Gmail Classic Priority Inbox enabled How to star a message The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! While the tabbed inbox is now default, Priority Inbox is still an option for Gmail users. A starred promotional message will appear in the Primary Inbox.

10 Primary - person-to-person conversations and messages that In May of 2013, Gmail further innovated the inbox by releasing a don t appear in other tabs new productivity feature based on inbox tabs and category Social messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, labels. Gmail s tabbed inbox is now the default view for new Gmail online dating services, and other social websites accounts, and has been enabled for most existing Gmail users. Promotions deals, offers and most other marketing s Although, Gmail users have the option of turning the tabs off. Updates personal, auto-generated updates including Gmail s Tabbed Inbox and Category Labels confirmations, bills, receipts, and statements Forums messages from online groups, discussion boards and mailing lists There are five labels total that are then categorized into their corresponding tab within the inbox. Three of the tabs are on by default (Primary, Social and Promotions), as well as two tabs that can be turned on manually (Forums and Updates). Gmail labels these s using a special algorithm that looks at everything from content, metadata and user feedback. Most of the categorizations rules came from Smart Labels, a Gmail Labs project that was released in March of 2011 that aimed to automatically label and sort incoming mail. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

11 labeled by: 3. Dragging and dropping a message into the primary folder. When a user drags and drops a message into a different tab, Gmail prompts users if they would like all future messages from 1. Right-clicking and selecting the desired tab from the Move to tab menu Gmail users have the ability to influence how messages are that sender to go to the selected tab. If yes is selected, all messages from that sender will automatically be sent to the primary folder going forward. However, if the Gmail user selects no, messages from that sender will continue to go to the original tab. Below is a campaign from Moosejaw asking their subscrib ers to move them to the Primary tab. 2. Starring a message. The starred message will appear in the pri mary Inbox, but only that particular message will appear in the primary inbox. Future promotional messages will still be filtered to the Promotions, Social, Updates, or Forums tab. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

12 If a Gmail user has Priority Inbox enabled, tabs are not displayed. Dropdown. If a Gmail user has Priority Inbox enabled, tabs are However, the message labels show up in the category views in the not displayed. However, the message labels show up in the side bar. These messages will still appear in the main inbox, and category views in the side bar. These messages will still appear users can click on the category label to view all messages with that in the main inbox, and users can click on the category label to particular label. 4. Selecting the message and choosing a label from the Label view all messages with that particular label. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

13 Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first web-based services. In fact, the name Hotmail is a play off of HTML, or HoTMaiL. Its popularity now spans the world. Hotmail is one of the most popular domains in the world, anddominates markets in Brazil, Australia and most European countries. Microsoft has established offices throughout the world to support its infrastructure, providing them with the insight needed to tailor their tools and services to a diverse set of global users. In 2013, Microsoft made a bold move and rebranded Hotmail and Hotmail Then (1996) Windows Live Mail to, a sign that consumer and enterprise offerings are converging into the cloud. Microsoft by the Numbers Active Users: 400 Million s received per day: 8 Billion Of those received s that reach the inbox: 30% - 35% Domains:, Hotmail.com, Live.com, MSN.com The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail, , Field Guide andpage Yahoo! 13 Hotmail () Now

14 Postmaster Services SmartScreen 1. Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) utilizes Microsoft s patented SmartScreen anti- SNDS is a free service that provides data on volume, spam filtering technology. This technology uses a machine- subscriber complaints, spam traps, and more. Spam Filtering learning approach to help protect users inboxes from junk . SmartScreen technology learns from known spam and phishing threats as well as from s customers who have chosen to participate in the Feedback Loop Program (FBL). Sender Reputation Data Like many ISPs, considers volume, spam complaints and spam traps into their filtering. However, the company places SNDS uses a color coded system which indicates trustworthiness: their Sender Reputation Data (SRD) network, which Microsoft Green indicates a positive sending reputation, and higher inbox refers to as the Spamfighter Club. Along with other sources of placement rates to are likely. reputation data such as the Junk Reporting Program (JMRP), Yellow signals reputation issues starting to surface, and a mix of SRD helps to train and improve the way SmartScreen technology inbox and junk folder placement is likely. classifies messages based on content and sender reputation. Red means that there are serious underlying reputation issues, Participants in the SRD program are selected from active which are preventing most, if not all, s sent to land in the users at random from over 200 countries and no one junk folder. a significant proportion of their filtering decisions from data in can volunteer for the program. Their votes on whether or not they think your looks spammy holds a lot of weight in filtering. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

15 Microsoft offers their Junk Reporting Program (JMRP) as a free feedback loop (FBL) service to anyone who wants to sign up. These FBLs are the result of spam complaints originating Unsubscribe Methods 2. Junk Mail Reporting Program (JMRP) from users only, and does not include SRD participants. To improve one s sending reputation, complainers should be removed from your lists immediately. The headers of the received FBL complaint will also indicate if the subscriber marked it as junk or phishing. s marked as phishing Like Gmail, also takes advantage of the listunsubscribe header. There are two ways subscribers access the ListUnsubscribe functionality through the too many newsletters footer or the sweep feature. something in the content looked suspicious. Too many newsletters? Unsubscribe. indicates that the sending identity wasn t known, or perhaps As shown below, displays the Too many newsletters? 3. Support verbiage under the . It is important to note that this verbiage Microsoft offers self-help and escalation paths for senders is not part of the . Rather, it s part of s user having deliverability issues. Senders are asked to ensure interface. When the hyperlink is clicked, the following pop-up will they are following all best practices on the be displayed if a List-Unsubscribe header is present. troubleshooting page. If senders are certain they are following best practices, they can enter a ticket to the postmaster team. Self-help Support Ticket: The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

16 Either method of unsubscribing, the user will see a screen like this where they can click a button to confirm the unsubscribe. If the List-Unsubscribe header is not included, the following pop-up will be displayed: Sweep Unsubscribe Using s Sweep feature, users can choose to unsubscribe from the mail in question. Microsoft does not maintain an internal proprietary whitelist. They do however participate in Return Path s Certification Program. Prioritized Delivery Participants in this program will bypass all spam filters and have their delivered to users with images on. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

17 Microsoft asks that senders mail infrastructure comply with the following: User Interface Features Mail Infrastructure 1. Sender ID and SPF Microsoft asks all senders publish an SPF or Sender ID record for the PRA domain. Inbox and User Interface 2. DKIM - Microsoft also conducts DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) checks on inbound . DKIM will be checked if Sender ID fails. If both authentication methods fail then their filters will make a decision to bulk the or drop it all together. 3. DNS Microsoft requires a valid reverse DNS with a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). If Microsoft webmail domains are unreachable, Microsoft recommends querying the most current list of MTAs through nslookup: nslookup q=mx hotmail.com Microsoft has only one known partner that uses its infrastructure The interface makes it easy to sort through personal mail, social notifications, graymail, and more. and that is Sympatico (Bell Canada). The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! Partners

18 Scheduled Cleanup Message features Categorization Scheduled cleanup allows users to set rules to automatically delete old s, and only keep the latest from a sender. For most businesses sending , this isn t an issue. For senders that send multiple times a day, have different From: s categorization can be used as Quick Views for users, which is a similar concept to Gmail s tabbed inbox. The big difference is that allows categories to be customizable. addresses for each mail stream may be needed. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

19 Delete All From Archive The delete all from functionality allows users to easily delete all from a Archive folder keeping the main inbox clutter free. particular sender based on the From: address. This is good news for any business s Archive feature is similar to Gmail s, but moves all messages to the that has had to deal with Hotmail users using the Report Junk button in the past. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

20 Yahoo! Mail was one of the first free webmail providers to hit the market and is one of the three largest providers in the world with 281 million users. If smaller providers are included that utilize the Yahoo! infrastructure, such as AT&T and BellSouth, Yahoo! s mail service covers 320+ million users globally. Yahoo! also re-designed its client in October of 2013 to make it more responsive and Yahoo by the Numbers better optimized for mobile devices. Enjoy the view with Yahoo! Mail Number of WorldWide users: 281 Million Number of WorldWide users including hosted infrastructure: 320+ Million Number of active mobile users: 300+ Million How much more Yahoo! users spend on electricity compared to Gmail users: $110 How much Yahoo! spent to purchase Four11 for the Rocketmail webmail service, which soon after became Yahoo! Mail: $96 Million The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

21 How Yahoo! Filters Spam Engagement They put a heavy emphasis on content, URL filtering and spam Engagement has always been an important measure of subscriber complaints from its users. They are one of the few mailbox interest for senders, but mailbox providers are starting to make providers that filter by domain versus only IP address. significant investments in research, in-house spam filters and third-party software to help measure subscriber engagement to better determine appropriate folder placement. Factors being Your reputation is critical in determining inbox or bulk folder considered include what messages are opened, what messages are placement and is driven by many factors including unknown moved between folders and how quickly mail is deleted. So what user rates, spam complaints and known bad addresses or spam can you do about this? Get back to basics. Send relevant that traps. You should know that a sender s reputation is made up of a your subscribers want by tracking opens, clicks and conversions. combination of IP Address + If you have a large number of subscribers that have never opened Domain + From Address so it s important that you maintain or engaged with your mail then it s time to take a second look at consistency in all three of these components since changing any those addresses and determine if you can win them back or let one of these may lower your reputation and degrade your ability to them go. Inactive subscribers will ultimately hurt your ability to get get to the inbox. delivered at all mailbox providers. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo! Reputation Yahoo! builds the majority of their spam algorithms in-house.

22 Yahoo s Whitelisting Options There are 2 kinds of priority listings: Internal whitelisting and Return Path Certification. Postmaster Services 1. Best practices for bulk mail senders and postmasters for sending to 1. Yahoo! Internal Whitelist: Yahoo! s own whitelist is free, and Yahoo! tells senders the best way to get delivered to the inbox business can sign up for Yahoo! s whitelisting service here. is to avoid looking like a spammer. Start here to troubleshoot Although it s a whitelist, brands that are whitelisted are still Yahoo! delivery issues. subject to certain filters, including user level filtering, content 2. Troubleshooting SMTP Errors filtering, and URL filtering. While the exact criteria to be accepted into Yahoo! s whitelist isn t public, they do require a posi- refer to their SMTP logs. Once the bounce code is discovered, tive sending reputation. Mailing from a new IP address, such review Yahoo! s list of common SMTP errors for the reason of as moving to a new Service Provider or adding new IP the error. addresses, will require at least 30 days of reputation before 3. Yahoo! Complaint Feedback Loop If you re mail isn t getting delivered to Yahoo!, senders should Yahoo! will consider whitelisting. Yahoo! offers a complaint feedback loop service that is hosted by Return Path. We recommend that you suppress that user 2. Return Path Certification: Yahoo! also honors the Return Path Certification accreditation program. Return Path Certification reputation with Yahoo!. Note that DomainKeys or DKIM also acts as a whitelist, but allows accredited senders to bypass authentication is a requirement to sign up for FBLs. certain filters to reach the inbox. Those accepted into the accreditation program are required to maintain the standards set immediately from future mailings to maintain a positive by Return Path and its participating partners. More information on the Return Path Certification program can be found here. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

23 Partners 1. SPF, DKIM, and DMARC: Authenticating with SPF and Yahoo! has several partners including AT&T (which includes DKIM is recommended. Yahoo! supports DMARC and the standards that are required. 2. Connection and Throughput: Servers should be configured to allow for simultaneous connections with throughput set at 20 s per connection. Rate limiting will occur for high complaints and poor reputation, so use this as a guideline to 3. rdns: publish a PTR for your sending IPs, and use a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) so it doesn t look like a dynamically assigned IP is sending mail. BellSouth, SBC and Ameritech), Verizon, Rogers, BT, TNZ, ExtraNZ, and Nokia, who utilize Yahoo! s infrastructure for its customers . Each of these partners has their own filtering at their gateways before it gets handed over to be processed by Yahoo! s filters, but we have found sent to these partners should have inbox placements rates that are consistent with direct Yahoo! users. Yahoo! User Interface determine what the optimal setting for you should be. Mail Infrastructure 4. Use a Consistent and Static From: address: Changing domains and sending addresses will benefit senders in which their subscribers whitelist their mailing address. It will also help prevent campaigns being identified as spam by Yahoo! s spam filters. The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

24 United Kingdom USA (Corporate Headquarters) France Brazil returnpath.com Germany Return Path is the worldwide leader in intelligence. We analyze more data about than anyone else in the world and use that data to power products that ensure that only s people want and expect reach the inbox. Our industry-leading intelligence solutions utilize the world s most comprehensive set of data to maximize the performance and accountability of , build trust across the entire ecosystem and protect users from spam and other abuse. We help businesses build better relationships with their customers and improve their ROI; and we help ISPs and other mailbox providers enhance network performance and drive customer retention. Information about Return Path can be found at: About Return Path Canada Australia The Marketer s Field Guide to Gmail,, and Yahoo!

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