New IP Feedback loop from mail.ru

Mail.ru have just released their FBL.

This is a DKIM based FBL, like that of Yahoo and other Return Path based FBLs.

Laura at Word to the Wise tells us that it is likely there will be an IP based one in the near future for ISPs but no further details yets, I’m sure Laura will be one of the first to know.

At the time of writing Laura said that there was not an English language version, while the page we are directed to appears to have an English translation for set-up, there is a chance that the actual user stats are still not available in English.

Another one to add to the list though: http://postmaster.mail.ru/?lng=en_US

Word to the Wise’s IP Address reputation primer

As you may or may not know: whatever Laura Atkins, of Word to the Wise, doesn’t know about email deliverability, is probably not worth knowing.

This recent blog post is particularly remarkable, so I’m linking to it from here, so less people miss out on it.

The post is called “IP Address reputation primer“, it was published on 26th Jan 2012 and covers the following:

  • Why IP addresses?
  • What is IP reputation?
  • How is IP reputation measured?
  • How fast does IP reputation change?
  • How is IP reputation used?
  • Key IP Reputation takeaways

This also does a fantastic job in validating one of my previous posts “dedicated IPs are good“.

I’ve also added Laura’s page to my “IP Warming” page.

 

Slowly engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses

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On the back of my recent reflection and appreciation for a Return Path article about IP warming “Engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses”, I found that Mike Yillyer also had the same idea. It would have been rude not to also add a tribute to Mike’s work too.

This one is particularly useful in that it speaks more about the implementation, obviously from the front line, this obviously backs up my original “Dedicated IPs are Good advice”.

Great advice putting weight behind closely monitoring your volumes through a new IP as well as ISP reactions.

This also reiterates the importance of only sending to the engaged through the new IP because the negative reactions from the less engaged (or surprised recipients – tut-tut) will carry a lot more weight and be hard to come back from.

Keep hold of this page “Technical Considerations for IP Warmup” or keep an eye on my IP warming page so you can always have somewhere to check.

Any one who is book marking any of these pages should also bookmark Laura’s ISP Summary Information which also features on her site, Word to the Wise.

Engaging the engaged to engage IP addresses

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On the 18th of Feb, Tom Sather wrote “Warming Up IP Addresses: 5 Steps for Faster Inbox Placement” for Return Path. This adds weight nicely to my “Dedicated IPs are Good” post a little while ago. It does of course finish with the usual sales pitch but on this occasion it is well earned.

The main points which need attention are 3 & 4: Segment and mail your active subscribers & Monitor.

This is something that I find marketers are not remotely inclined to do unless their ESP has “a button for it”.  Even if the benefits are obvious, and the logic that the people who are engaged are so more likely to spend money than people who are ignoring them. Without actually trying it, it’s hard to get buy-in and people don’t want to risk their results. The size of the list is still perceived as more important than the existing ROI being achieved.

This could be because if their results go down they are out of job and they are only protected by achieving as much or more than their predecessors. They will of course never over achieve because the existing method is flawed and in a downward spiral of failure. Also the fact that many people in charge at the top only see the money and cannot perceive or care about consequences or risk losing the zombies off the list to help connect with the engaged. That could be where the battle is!

Hopefully with Return Path being a well respected authority on this kind of thing, some significant weight will be added to the cause.

Although there is always the possibility that even with a consequence and brand that does not care would just move between ESPs flashing the cash and starting over.

Maybe once IP V6 is out more will be done to pin a sender down. Maybe there will be away of forcing senders to register the DKIM of their home domain to their sending domains, so they carry their reputation with them everywhere. Like a web-reputation linked to the company registration. However I have no idea how that could be implemented, it’ll probably cost too much money.

To read the full article on Return Path…read on

There is of course some hope!

Kelly Lorenz of Bronto wrote a fantastic piece Making the Case for Permission which gives me hope and even more tools to add to my on going  ‘pressure for permission mission’.

Dedicated IPs are Good

You may or may not have heard of the phrase ‘Dedicated IP’ but if you keep any eye on t’internet about email marketing you should have by now.
Often it is perceived as uber tekki so marketers tend to shy away from it and some even panic at the prospect, well there is no need, it is a good thing and here is why…

Why a dedicated IP?

Out of the box most ESPs will put you straight into a shared pool of IP address and your emails will go out of all of them as will a few dozen-hundred other senders.

This is normal and will suit most good low volume senders, you all share the same sending reputation and due to the volumes being low individually, together they maintain a good rep.

Once you are sending over 50k a month consistently, your volumes will start having a larger affect on the shared reputation and this can make your own deliverability ambiguous.

In order to have full control over your deliverability you want a dedicated IP address. This is a single spot that your emails and only your emails go out from.  You have full control over your reputation and subsequently your deliverability. This is very good thing and as well as your own success getting you better deliverability, it will also get you closer to being able to be Return Path Certified thus making your deliverability even more low maintenance.

How do I do it?

To get one all you need to do is ask your ESP for one.

You will probably need to send slightly differently for the first two to four weeks of having a dedicated IP just to make sure it gets off on the right foot, here’s what you do:

Week 1: send about 10k a day
Week2: send about 50k a day
Week3: up to 100k a day
Week 4: up to 250k a day

If you haven’t got more than 100k a week to send, it means you can go back to your more regular sending habit that much earlier. However, you may find that you don’t want to just fall back into your old ways as you have found that more targeted sends are far more profitable – which you should!

If you normally send one big chunk a month, eg: 600k-2million on a Friday afternoon, break it right down into smaller chunks and send them in small daily batches during this month.

If your total volumes take you over the preferred limit, take out the addresses that have not opened an email in over 3 months and only add address that have a verifiable opt-in – eg: sign-up form.

You may find that by only emailing the people who frequently interact that your open and click count does not go up or down but the percentage flies up. This will be because you are only emailing the people that are likely to open the email. All of the other people who were getting it but ignoring it are out of the way. So you will still be getting opened by the same people as before and the those who are useless too will not be in the way. Once the IP warming period is up you can break down the historical non-openers into to small groups and target them differently each week so see if you can save them or if you should just leave them out forever.

Avoid Bounces and Complaints

It is vitally important that you avoid hard bounces and being marked as spam even more vigilantly than usual because they will do a little more harm during this first month.

Avoid Spam Traps

If you are a big B2C sender, taking out your consistent non-openers (often called ’emotional unsubscribes’) for this period is vital. Very old email addresses can often be turned into spam traps by ISPs. Most of them will hard bounces for a while first so your ESP will have suppressed them but if you have woken up and old list – take it out and put it one side.

Any address that is more than 12 months old and has not opened in the last 6 months, just chop them off, they will do more harm than good in any situation.

It’s not an exact science

No matter how hard you try you can’t manufacture a reputation. Nothing is set in stone and ISPs can be fickle as. However most of this is from experience and research. Other people might start with 10k a day and slowly increase it every day for a month. Some people might just plough into it and just ride the storm until the ISPs makes a decision but the general census is that you start small and slow and gradually increase. One thing is for certain though, negative responses count for more in the early stages, so avoid them at all costs.

The Credit Rating Analogy

If you’ve never had any debt at all, you won’t get a mortgage. This is because you are an unknown as far as lenders are concerned, so they won’t take the risk.

If you’ve had a credit card and even sometimes missed a payment, you are more likely to get approved because at least the lenders can analyse the risk.

IPs’s deliverability are a mortgage from an ISP. They won’t just let you in until they figure out what you’re about. So in order to get in their good book early, play the game and don’t kill of your deliverability whilst you are making yourself known – it’ll be so very hard to come back from.

If you just get your head down and follow best practice, you will be fine.

Pure360 will not only give you a dedicated IP on request but I may realise that you need one before you do & offer you one and I will be there to hold your hand through the warming process.

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Edit 30/10/2010: Since writing this we have had a glowing reference from Al Iverson about this, so in case there is any doubt here is some back-up statements:

Al Iverson

@aliversonAl Iverson
Don’t just take my word for it– here’s some good info from Pure360 on why you should send from a dedicated IP address:http://bit.ly/dsI1BG
28 Oct via web

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in reply to @getintheinbox ↑
Al Iverson
@aliversonAl Iverson
@getintheinbox good advice! this is very near what we recommend to clients.

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Captain Inbox
getintheinbox Captain Inbox
@aliverson Thanks Al, I’d be interested to know what other methods are in use if any?

in reply to @getintheinbox ↑

Al Iverson

@aliversonAl Iverson
@getintheinbox Well, my struggle is with clients who want to use shareds to avoid a rep issue…doesn’t work the way they think it does.

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