A Marketer’s Field Guide to Yandex

Posted by Dana Huten on

Yandex is the most widely used search engine in Russia with about 60% market share. With 40 million active email user accounts, their webmail service covers approximately 20% of the Russian market.

Yandex has one of the most sophisticated email applications in the world. Their email UI includes customized  action and sorting buttons  as well as ‘Disk’, Yandex’s new cloud service. The security of the user-interface is stellar. Users can access a mail log of all changes made to their account from different devices and email clients, easily set-up  personalized blacklists and whitelists without having to click numerous times to access these types of settings. Still, the best features of Yandex mail are the technologies that the user doesn’t necessarily see; i.e. their anti-spam and security technology.

Yandex has developed their own anti-spam technology called “Spamooborona”, they also use a third-party anti-virus and malware service called “Dr. Web”. Yandex’s anti-spam philosophy is that spam can only be drastically reduced by using a multi-pronged approach: anti-spam software, feedback loop systems and a concerted risk mitigation effort on behalf of the anti-abuse team. They categorize their spam analysis in three segments; the IP address of the sender, the design and style of the actual content, word recurrence statistics and checksums. Both the “this is spam” and the “this is not spam” buttons are important indicators for Yandex in how they train their filters.

Here are some more details about Yandex that might be helpful to senders:

Services for Senders: Yandex offers a unique service for senders called Post Office. The service provides senders with helpful insights about their campaign performance.  The data seen in this tool is taken directly from Yandex’s mail platform.  In Post Office, you can select a range of unique indicators such as; demographics, how many users actually scrolled to the bottom of your mail vs. those who deleted before reading and more. You can view all of the data in the UI or export it via an API.

Prioritized Delivery: Yandex uses the Return Path whitelist. To quote our recent press release regarding the Russian certification program, “For email marketers whose data management standards and sending reputations qualify for Return Path Certification and inclusion on Return Path’s whitelist of trusted senders, the program’s availability in Russia improves their ability to deliver messages to Russian subscribers’ inboxes, keeping them connected to their customers and maximizing email campaign revenue.”

Feedback Loops: Yandex has recently launched a ReturnPath-powered IP-based Feedback Loop

List Acquisition & Sign-Up: I asked the Yandex postmaster what he would like senders to know about list acquisition and sign-up. He told me, “Senders should always use confirmed opt-in. We consider the  sender responsible for ensuring that our users really want to receive their mails! Senders should never use auto opt-in and addresses should not be obtained from a third party.” Additionally, your registration form should leave the, ‘I would like to receive newsletters and/or email offers’ box unchecked.  Like many other mailbox providers, Yandex considers transactional mails as purely functional. They shouldn’t contain advertisements for other products or services unrelated to the customer’s purchase.

The Yandex Postmaster says that reminders about incomplete registrations should not be sent more than once.

Unsubscribe: Yandex recommends providing list-unsubscribed headers for all emails. The specified URL should either use the mailto: scheme or be an HTTP URL that unsubscribes the user with a single click without any further confirmations required. Yandex provides an “unsubscribe” button for most of the emails viewed via  their web interface.

Engagement: Yandex considers engagement a good indicator of the relevance of a sender’s mails they consider this when making decisions to block or throttle.

Reputation: Senders can check their reputation using the aforementioned Post Office tool. Since Yandex also uses the Return Path whitelist, checking your global reputation score via the Return Path’s Senderscore.org is a good idea.

Sending-Infrastructure Requirements: Yandex uses DKIM, SPF and DMARC. They recommend that all volume email senders authenticate. Senders must comply with all RFC standards relevant to email.

Rendering: In closing, the Postmaster suggested the following concerning rendering; he said, “due to insufficient HTML standards for email  we recommend testing your emails against Yandex’s desktop and mobile interfaces before sending.”


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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.

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