Salsa Scoop> Email Deliverability: DIA's Automatic Unsubscribe Mechanisms

Email Deliverability: DIA's Automatic Unsubscribe Mechanisms

In the world of email delivery, your IP address reputation is what it's all about. In days past, all you had to do was ensure that the emails going out of your system were clean, and the spam filters would pass them through into inboxes. Now, Internet Service Providers keep volumes of data on your IP addresses and what kind of email you send through them. They also keep data on frequency, volume, bounce count, and spam complaints. In order to optimize email deliverability, one must not only ensure that emails have non-spam-like content, but also that one keeps bounce counts and complaints low: if your IP drops e-mail to 10,000 bogus Yahoo addresses, Yahoo's going to assume the other 10,000 good addresses are receiving junk and handle it accordingly. Our member organizations control the first part of that equation, and (by being ethical mailers and not uploading spam lists) a portion of the second. But a very big part of keeping bounce counts and spam complaints within ISPs' operational limits happens out of DIA's shop through processes to automatically unsubscribe addresses that have gone sour. The very first time we get a report that a supporter's email account has gone permanently inactive -- a "hard bounce" -- we unsubscribe that record. This is always handled at the time of your email blast. In the database, we convert the user to a the classification "User Unknown" in the "Receive Email" field of the supporter's record. We also unsubscribe users with the classification "ISP Spam Report" when a supporter hits the "Report Spam" button in any of the major ISP email clients. We have to unsubscribe these email addresses immediately because not only has the supporter elevated the complaint to the ISP but has also flagged your email as spam, thereby affecting the further delivery of similar messages from your organization. And, of course, the other cases when we unsubscribe a supporter immediately occur when the user chooses to unsubscribe themselves, either through a web page or a link in an email. A successful unsubscribe today is a spam report not sent tomorrow. By doing these instantly, we stay on the good side of ISPs and keep the bounce count low -- and your delivery rates high. It's a difficult battle, but its one that we think we are winning. Delivery speeds are high, messages are reaching their destinations, and supporters are learning about important issues.


from & reply-to addreses

for the automatic bounce handling to work, do you need to have a specific from or reply-to email address set? i've been kind of confused about this for awhile. we couldn't use the old reply manager cause it just wasn't reliable for us, so we stopped using the [orgname] to send mail from a long time ago, but did that stop automatic bounce handling from working?

RE: from & reply-to addreses

For our automatic bounce processing, we have a little trick. There is the concept of an "Envelope From" address which we set to an address of our own. When a remote server has an early issue (during the SMTP transmission) or some other post-transfer server related issue, the email bounces back to our server and we handle the bounce according to processing rules. Any time there is a user initiated reply (this includes vacation messages, etc) that goes back to whatever you have set for your "Reply to" address. The only thing you have lost in using your own reply to address is the ability to have us process unsubscribes via an email reply for you. You'll have to do those on your own. We still handle spam complaint unsubscribes, though. Hope that helps!

What about the "Return-Path" field in an email

Isn't it also used to track bounces? I notice that in some email lists that I am subscribed to, this address is set to "" or somesuch. But the DIA system populates this field with whatever is in either the From or Reply-To field.

Right. Those types of

Right. Those types of bounces are more of the "out-of-band" variety such as Out Of Office messages and the like.

open rate

I am curious what an average 'open rate' is for the email blasts?

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