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“It costs very little,” says Muniz of ShopAtHome.com. “The hardest part is staying on top of which rules each ISP is using.”
AOL uses the authentication technology Sender Policy Framework, or SPF, and Sender-ID, while Yahoo employs Domain Keys and Cox uses DKIM. The Email Sender and Provider Coalition provides a chart showing the authentication systems used by 19 larger ISPs, and J.L. Halsey Corp., owner of such marketing specialists as Lyris Technologies and EmailLabs, is working on a more extensive list of second-tier ISPs, the company says.
Lyris’ second-quarter ISP Deliverability Report Card for the first time looked at ISP use of SPF and found it was one of the top 10 items used to decide whether to deliver an e-mail. Lyris plans to look at use of other authentication technologies in future reports.
E-mail servers can be set up to use the appropriate verification method for the ISP receiving the e-mail. Each e-mail server’s IP address is registered with the ISPs, and the authentication technologies prove that an e-mail is coming from a registered IP address, and not from a spammer masquerading as that IP address.
“We tell the ISPs you can accept any e-mail from ShopAtHome through this IP address,” Muniz says. “From anywhere else, it’s not us.”
But because any non-registered server is suspect, faulty configuration of a new e-mail server “is really catastrophic for deliverability,” says Bliss of FreshAddress.
“If you go to the trouble of saying these are the e-mail servers I bless, but then forget when you add a new e-mail server, that new mail server looks just as bad as a phisher because it’s explicitly unauthorized,” Bliss says.
Compliance with ISP authentication technologies thus rounds out the list of 10 tips for improving e-mail delivery rates today. Given the ongoing explosion of spam, both in volume and sophistication, e-mail marketers can count on encountering new barriers to the consumer’s inbox in 2008.
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