A Marketer’s Field Guide to Italia Online
Italia Online was formed in November 2012 when Libero acquired Matrix S.p.A and all of its subsidiaries, including the mailbox provider, Virgilio. Although Virgilio and Libero use the same MTA and anti-spam technology, the two email platforms were not merged immediately. The technical merger will be complete in Q4 of 2014. The technical merger of the infrastructures will include a change of MTA and anti-spam filters. Libero and Virgilio have a combined count of over 14 million mailboxes.
If you’re an Email Marketer here are some key-aspects of this mailbox provider to help you get to know them better:
Spam Filter Technology: Italia Online uses well-known, third-party spam filters. They filter mail first on reputation and then on content.
Reputation: This is the most important factor for getting your mail delivered at Italia Online. Incoming mail passes through a reputation filter that uses hundreds of metrics to calculate an aggregate, global reputation score for your IP. If your reputation is poor, you will not even make it past the gate, you will receive a hard-bounce message. If you receive a block message, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The postmaster request that you include the following in your email: The entire original message that was blocked, your IP address and the exact date/time stamp that the block message includes.
Content: After your IP has been allowed to pass the first, reputation-based filter, your mail will be submitted to a content filter. Italia Online currently uses a content filter that detects mass distribution and repeating patterns but they will be changing their content filters to include global content fingerprint analysis. Even if your reputation is stellar, your mail may end up in the bulk folder if the content is consider spammy.
If your mail is sent to the bulk folder and the user doesn’t take action on it (clicking “This is Not Spam” or manually moving it out of the spam folder), it will be automatically deleted after 15 days.
At Italia Online you could summarize delivery as such: Reputation gets you through the door but content decides where your mail goes.
Prioritized Delivery: Italia Online uses the Return Path whitelist. If you are on the Return Path whitelist, you circumvent the other filters and go directly to the inbox.
Feedback Loops: Italia Online is not currently offering a FBL service for senders. This may change in the future.
List Acquisition & Sign-Up: Poor list acquisition practices are one of the top reasons an IP or domain will receive a bad reputation score. The Italia Online Abuse Desk advises: “Your registration form should be very clear. The user should know they are agreeing to receive future mails from you.” The senders should never use auto-opt-in or purchase list from third-parties. Reminders about incomplete registrations should not be sent for longer than a 3 month period after the initial registration.
Unsubscribe: The unsubscribe link should be easy to find in the mail content and the process should be as simple as possible. Suppression of the email address should be immediate.
Engagement: Italia Online considers spam to be any message that the user didn’t want to receive. The anti-spam filter technology that Italia Online is moving to in Q4 of 2014 uses engagement metrics in various ways. Negative engagement metrics, like complaints, have an obvious impact on your reputation but it’s important to note that positive engagement metrics like opens and clicks are the best way for you, the sender to stay on top of use engagement and adjust your email program or list hygiene practices accordingly.
Connection and Throughput: The Italia Online Postmaster strongly suggest that senders open no more than two, simultaneous connections when sending. They are flexible on throughput so use your discretion and be reasonable. If you are sending too many messages too quickly, expect to receive a 421 throttling message.
Sending Infrastructure Requirements:
They recommend that all volume email senders authenticate with DKIM and SPF. Senders also must comply with all RFC standards relevant to email. Your DNS records should be valid and your WHO-IS record up-to-date. Incorrect configuration of MX and PTR could cause your mails to be rejected at the gateway.
About Dana Huten
Dana Huten is an Anti-Spam and Security Consultant in the Email Intelligence Team of Return Path. With 15 years in the European telecommunications and internet industry, Dana has a broad spectrum of knowledge. She has experience working in mobile, internet and email marketing as well as in IT and internet security.