Best practices

How to optimize email deliverability
to Yahoo! And AOL mailboxes

Aleksandra Duło, 8 July 2020

AOL/ YAHOO 9 best practices for email deliverability

Each ISP has its own sender guidelines and anti-spam policy. It’s worth knowing them and put them into practice especially while sending large email volumes – international in particular. Where exactly your messages are going to be placed in the mailbox matters most. This is another article from the series “How to optimize email deliverability – Good Practices by EmailLabs” in the context of each individual provider. In this episode, we’re discussing Yahoo! and AOL.

Two areas determine the effectiveness of email marketing. Effective message with catchy content and technical matters that guarantee better deliverability. While e-mail content is more frequently discussed topic than email deliverability, it also requires constant optimization.

From a business point of view, however, it is more important than the project itself. Even the most creatively prepared mailing won’t bring expected results if it doesn’t reach the inbox, but be placed in SPAM folder. One way to prevent this is to match email performance to very strict requirements of mailbox providers. But to properly apply them, you must know them and have an infrastructure that allows you to customize the entire process. We present 9 rules that allow you to optimize the email deliveralbility in Yahoo! and AOL.

#1 Verified database is the key. Collect consents!

In email marketing, the quality of contact database has sigificant impact on financial results, as well as on the reputation. Therefore, remember to send messages only to recipients who really want it. Do not buy databases, as you cannot be absolutely sure whether they were gathered according to the recommended techniques. It’s best to grow your own email list by opt-in consent method (obtaining subscription consents). Besides the fact that the database collected in this way is legally secure, it is also more effective – subscribers who opt-in to the contact mailing lists by their own, show more engagement in relation to incoming emails and report spam or abuse complaints less often. This could increase your chances of reaching the inbox.

#2 Database hygiene and recipients engagement. Take care of it!

Applying good practices for collecting email addresses to your contact list is one thing, but it is equally important to take care of database hygiene, i.e. regular removal of inactive subscribers. However, before you cross them out of your list, try to regain their attention. Identify when normally your recipients stop engaging with your email and send them a message to catch their attention. When there’s still no involvement, try to send them a re-confirmation email. Only if there’s no reaction, add their email addresses to your suppression list.

Fighting for subscribers engagement makes sense – the higher the level of engagement, the more effective your actions are. One of the methods used to increase user engagement is email segmentation in terms of content tailored to demographic and behavioral indications (purchase history, order processing time, frequency) and industry.

#3 Unsubscribe request? Accept it!

The person who was willing to click on the link to unsubscribe from your email list is determined. Don’t try to “wait out” his decision as there is a great risk that your message is going to be marked as SPAM next time. It can also have a bad impact on  your IP reputation. Therefore, accept all unsubscribe requests within 24 hours.

#4 User complaints?

Email Providers have their own solutions aimed at minimizing the percentage of user complaints. Often they provide free programs that allow you to see what your recipients really think about messages, and thanks to this – take appropriate steps to change negative feedbacks, reduce the number of complaints, and thus improve your sending reputation.

When you start using Feedback Loop program, regularly check your complaint rate and try to keep it below 0.2% per one IP address. For IP addresses with a higher complaint rate, it is more likely to have mail sent to SPAM folder.

#5 Authentication standards? Hold on to them!

Follow all authentication standards. They help you establish a consistent domain reputation and prevent email spoofing. Hence, make sure you properly authenticate your email with SPF, DKIM and DMARC records.

#6 Hold on to your mesage size limitations. It’s easy!

The message size limitation in Yahoo! won’t loom large in your mind as this ISP doesn’t have very strict limits – such message will certainly please the creative department as most marketing emails won’t have any issues to go through the “selection”.

#7 IP warm-up. Manage it!

Managing the IP warm-up process is crucial while building your sending reputation. Mismanaging or rushing IP warming up process can have the opposite effect and make your messages fall into SPAM tab. Return Path recommends warming up new IP addresses and domains over time. This approach supports reputation building.

Remember about the throughput control. Monitor SMTP codes for signs of throttling. If you do not have any experience in this area, it’s best to rely on a reliable solution, such as EmailLabs, which automatically adjusts the number of emails sent to a given provider in time.

#8 IP segmentation makes sense. Try it!

The deliverability rate of different types of messages may vary. While transactional emails do not usually cause problems, marketing ones require more attention. Therefore, it is good to separate them and use different IP addresses for email performances. This contributes to better control over performances, improved email deliverability and the ability to respond faster to any delivery issues. After some time you will notice not only better deliverablity results, but also increased sending reputation.

#9 Whitelist. Register!

Being on sender’s whitelist means that your emails are going to reach the recipient’s inbox. Although Verizon Media doesn’t have an internal whitelist, you can use the external one. Choosing Return Path Certification will help you improve message delivery to the inbox to all Verizon Media mailboxes, including AOL and Yahoo! Remember, emails sent from certified IP addresses are still subjected to filtering in terms of content, URL and users.

Although following best practices of the biggest ISPs isn’t easy, especially during high volume sending, it’ s worth spending some time to learn and test. Every day we send millions of messages and we know that the benefits of using these guidelines are noticeable, and above all have significant impact on the efficiency of email performance. Trust us, we’ve checked!

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