Domain Reputation 2: List Headers – the way forward?

To follow on from my previous post “Domain Reputation – it’s gotta be a good thing” I’ve found out a bit more and I’m sure this will become more and more popular and maybe even the standard.

The short version is:
There are some extra bits and bobs which can be put in email headers which allow ISPs and Inbox Hosts to know where to forward emails to in order to unsubscribe someone, just like a feedback loop!
I reckon all EPSs and email marketing software developers should use incorporate it and if not why not?

Allow me to elaborate:

A couple of articles from Lashback, one in on July 23rd and the other appears undated, started me off looking into List Headers.

It is a very interesting concept, although the technology has been around for years, it has not been embraced until recently when Google rolled out their “Unsubscribe and Report Spam” button. This reportedly uses these list headers in pretty much the same way as a feedback loop. Now while Return Path’s feedback loop is becoming more popular with the big ISPs, Google, being Google, has decided not to follow the likes of Yahoo but to use existing technology to do the work for them and not pay anyone for the privilege.

As far as I can tell at the moment, the standards were created a while ago to enable mailing list members to control their subscription options by sending an email and the settings would be automatically be controlled, instead of have a person reading emails and taking actions.

This seems quick obvious to me and I am wondering why it was not used by the first ESPs, maybe someone who worked at Buongiorno in their email days can tell me?

Anyway, the standards RFC 2369 and RFC 2919 basically involve putting particular names and values in the header. One of them being the email address to forward the email to for the unsubscribe and another being the email-id which is the unique id for that mail to that recipient from that sender. Any decent ESP will employ some form of unique identifier in each email.
Google will see that they are there and give the reader the option of mark as spam and unsubscribe and then they will forward that email back to the unsubscribe address and the sender will pick up the email-id opt that recipient out.

Those ESPs who already plug into ESP feedback loops (Pure360) will find this easy to integrate, other EPS who employ an automated abuse@ opt-out mechanism too (Pure360yes, I know, I’m biased) would probably just use that address at the very least.

– – –

When someone marks an email as spam, there is a very good chance that every other email afterwards will go to their junk folder. Subsequently, not only will the sender begin sending an email that is highly unlikely to get seen, sending consistently to the junk folder harms the IP reputation. So ISPs will notify the sender, the sender will opt that person out and then no more emails will be send straight to junk. In fact Hotmail and Yahoo tell us that marking as spam is the same as an unsubscribe request.

Not every ISP has a feedback loop.
Some, Outblaze for instance, will only give a feedback loop to guaranteed double opt-ins. To be honest that seems like utter madness, IF YOU ONLY SEND FULLY DOUBLE OPTIN EMAILS – YOU WOULDN’T NEED A FEED BACK LOOP

This List Header method could make it very easy for everyone to have a feedback loop without paying a company loads of cash or completely updating their technology.

If, as rumoured, this also ties into future domain reputation, we could all have a lot more control over our own deliverability and that is definitely a good thing!

I think all ESPs should do this and open that door for ISPs and Inbox hosts who want to use it! and if not, why not?…discuss

Or am I talking utter twaddle?

One response to “Domain Reputation 2: List Headers – the way forward?

  1. On reflection, I suppose there could be the worry that spammers could use list headers and put your unsubscribe address in there and then spam the world, then the mark as spam feedback could jam up your system maybe?

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