How did the deliverability challenge change in 2006?

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Answer: The following are 2006 developments that affected deliverability:
  1. Default image suppression became ubiquitous and is the most important e-mail marketing development of 2006. Microsoft implemented it in its new Web mail service, WindowsLive Mail, and the influential ISP trade groups MAAWG and APWG ratified the tactic as an industry best practice in July. According to research conducted by Epsilon and GfK NOP, 65% of e-mail users already have encountered in-box image suppression, and this number is growing. As a result, marketers must now educate and motivate their subscribers to activate images, and campaign success now relies largely on the fine art of specialized e-mail creative design to optimize rendering.
  2. Marketers got greater access to consumer complaint data, the development that contributed most to making e-mail marketers’ jobs easier in 2006. With the key advent of technical standardization for feedback loops at the end of 2005, a flurry of additional ISPs joined pioneers AOL and Juno/NetZero in adopting them in 2006, including Earthlink, MSN/Hotmail, Outblaze and RoadRunner.
    As feedback loops continue to proliferate, marketers that take full advantage of them and have access to real-time, integrated spam complaint reporting are better equipped to identify the root causes of delivery failures. As a result, they can make improvements to their practices, list hygiene, campaign relevancy and, ultimatel, their reputation scores going forward.
  3. The emergence of ISPs utilizing the services of third-party accreditation bureaus may affect deliverability in 2007. AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft began working with third parties—including Goodmail, ReturnPath, Habeas and ISIPP SuretyMail—to help them better distinguish legitimate e-mail from spam. As a marketer, whether you participate (or agree with their schemata), the fact that ISPs have begun partnering with third-party accreditation bureaus means that you have more arrows in the deliverability quiver, and are better educated about ISP policies and expectations. Also, it’s positive that ISPs continue to explore innovative approaches to protecting legitimate e-mail and improving the end user experience.

Jordan Cohen is director of industry and government relations for Epsilon (,  a provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing technologies and services.

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