Recently we’ve been affected by a series of IP range blocks. This has prevented mail from some IP addresses in our ranges being sent to Hotmail and Live Mail addresses.

Although there is a lot that can (and should) be done from a web host’s perspective to prevent IP range blacklisting, ultimately there will always be a risk of blacklisting if the quality of messages originating from our network are of a lower standard.

We take a dim view of bad practices when emailing out from our network, and we spend a lot of time preventing and fixing outbound spam mailing (deliberate or not). But there is also a lot of work that can be done by our clients to improve the quality and reputation of their own emails, and in turn reduce the chance of becoming blacklisted.

Below we’ve listed some of our best practices and standards for emails, to reduce the chance of blacklisting. Please note however that this isn’t an exhaustive or definitive list, and these points won’t necessarily apply equally to all clients – for instance, not all clients send out mass emails such as newsletters and email marketing.

Best practice and email standards

  • Strengthen your signup process.
    Make sure that you’re using a double-opt-in signup process. This will confirm the authenticity of the people who sign up for your email campaigns and newsletters.
  • Deal with spam complaints.
    If we receive a complaint from Hotmail, Windows Live Mail or AOL, then we will forward this to you. This contains an email that a user has marked as spam and no longer wishes to receive. You should action this accordingly – by, for instance, removing them from your mailing lists.
  • Transparency.
    Mark your emails clearly so that your customers are able to identify, quickly and easily, that they requested emails from your service.
  • Clean up your lists.
    Remove people who don’t want to receive your emails, and make your unsubscribe process more visible.
  • Register as an authorised sender.
    You can register your domain and IP address (click here) to verify that mail is coming from you, and to be notified if there’s spam originating from your server. This also includes spoofing statistics, and includes blacklist exemption in some cases.
  • Apply for the Sender Score Certified Mail Program.
    If you’re carrying out all of the tips above, but you’re still having deliverability issues, you may consider joining the Sender Score Certified Mail Program – a third-party program administered by Return Path. Many legitimate mailers and marketers have qualified and joined this programme to improve mail deliverability and prevent email being filtered to the Junk Email Folder.

 

Technical changes

There are a number of additional changes you can make with your mail setup. These fall outside of the service we provide to you, and may impact your mail service in other areas; they can also be quite difficult or confusing to set up.

Although we can help you to set up these services, please be aware that we don’t provide them. Although we recommend their use, they aren’t a cure-all for having emails flagged as spam, or for increasing the quality of your mail.

We’ll be creating a series of guides in the near future to assist in these areas.

  • Configure an SPF record.
    This authorises you as a sender for your domain by proving that emails are from the correct location, and improves the reputation of your IP address and server. This is the simplest implementation, as it only requires a TXT record to be added to your DNS.
  • Set up DomainKeys.
    Similar to the above, DomainKeys verify that emails are coming from the correct location and improve your email reputation. Please be aware that this requires work on a technical level to implement.
  • DKIM
    DKIM is the modern and more advanced version of DomainKeys. DKIM allows your emails to be verified as legitimate, or at least from the expected source, and improves the likelihood that an email won’t be marked as spam by automated filters (please be aware that this, in particular, is not simple to set up).

 

What to do if Microsoft is blocking you

Well, you could always lobby Microsoft! We believe that Microsoft will take further action if there’s pressure from the other direction.

If a mail recipient of yours (or preferably, several recipients) contacts Microsoft to say they’re unable to receive emails from your domain/IP address, then Microsoft may reconsider the block that’s in place.

This can be actioned by contacting them here.

 

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