Your Blacklist Questions Answered
Recently I presented a webinar on blacklistings and promised to follow up on any questions that were asked from the audience when we'd released our Ultimate Guide to Email Blacklists. Now is that time! so let's dive into the questions:
We send email using different domains for different types of email but are changing email provider and are looking at changing to sub domains of our main domain. Is there any risk doing this?
Most blacklist providers would look at whether or not they can distinguish your companies legitimate email. They’d probably see email from subdomain1.companyx.com and subdomain2.companyx.com rather than companydomain1.com and companydomain2.com because that can look like you’re trying to spread your volume to evade filtering. It also means that you can maintain single postmaster and abuse accounts for the main domain rather than having to create and maintain accounts for every domain you use to send.
There is a slight risk that your company (parent) domain could get caught up in blacklistings, especially if you don’t successfully deal with listings on your sub domains. But it’s less of a risk than being identified as a someone trying to avoid filtering.
Does the content of messages cause blacklistings?
In the webinar I covered URI blacklists which list known domains or hyperlinks associated with spammers so from that point of view yes, the content of your email can cause blocking.
This question may have been about the content/nature of the email causing a listing, if that's the case then most blacklist operators are not really concerned with the content of the email, they’re concerned with the permission that you may/may not have to send to the receiving address. So the fact that you may hit one of their spam traps which didn’t give consent to be sent email is the biggest concern. They may also look at the content after confirming a problem to determine what sort of resolution would be acceptable to remove the blacklisting.
You mentioned not buying email addresses but what about renting a list?
Buying and renting lists are slightly different. One big problem with list rental is the subscriber's expectations. Whilst your email to them might not be "spam", some recipients are likely to report the messages as spam and some blacklist operators/reputation systems will factor spam complaints into their calculations. Permission is the other problem and if you’re in the situation where your IP is blacklisted and you’re trying to trace subscriber consent, it can be difficult if you’ve rented or bought email addresses.
What evidence do we need to prove consent to blacklists?
A few pieces of information you should probably log for your own purposes along with email address is IP address, time that they signed up and where they signed up. Most blacklist providers would be perfectly happy if you provided them with documentation on how you acquire email addresses and information on how they can sign up with their own test addresses.
We send on a shared IP address, what do we do if our IP gets blacklisted?
Usually, if your ESP has taken action to identify and suspend the offending sender, blacklistings can be resolved pretty quickly. Blacklist operators don’t want to penalise legitimate senders, they just want to help prevent unwanted email.
Do spam traps open or click emails?
Interesting question! Some blacklist operators reserve the right to view messages including downloading any images. That means that they could generate an open.
Viewing an email does not imply consent and senders are expected to have verified a subscribers permission before adding their address to a list.
How would you recommend managing an active 'reply-to' address when sending huge amounts of mail?
You could try to create a bunch of rules on your mail server but the best way to do this is through software. Most email analysis software will remove out-of-office notifications and allow you to categorise replies so you can route email to different departments or integrate them into your CRM platform.
Thanks for reading and if you have any ideas for future Q&A blog topics, please leave us a comment.
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About Dale Langley
As a consultant to Return Path’s clients helping them adopt the latest email best practices, Dale's background in mailbox provider system development led to his specialization in mailbox provider start-ups, infrastructure, and subscriber engagement. He can be found regularly presenting seminars, talking about the latest trends in email marketing and de-mystifying the murky world of deliverability. Find him at https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dalelangley and @Email_dale on Twitter.