ISPs and ESPs have been making it harder and harder to get into the inbox for email marketers. This isn’t because they don’t like us, it’s because spammers like to hide in our midst. In order to identify spammers, ESPs are constantly changing their formulas, trying to stay a step ahead of the evil junk mail.
It’s pretty easy to tell when an ISP has made changes, as my normally peaceful office is filled with our support team presenting tickets about delivery problems. Lately, Gmail has been up on the list, but before that it was MSN, and before that...well...you get the idea.
These changes usually result in a lot of frustration on the marketers' end, trying to figure out how to change their policies, or what new structure needs to be implemented to solve the problem. More often than not, the answer to the problem is the same: “Clean your list” and “review your list building practices.”
The greatest part about using “best practices” for your email marketing efforts is that these changes never affect you. Postmasters have no problem with marketers that follow the rules, and if anything, they want to reward them for not causing problems. Whenever changes are made, the only marketers who are affected are those who aren’t following best practices.
In many ways, it’s like a political game. Somebody finds a loophole and abuses it, ISPs cover that loophole and another is found. If you aren’t utilizing those loopholes in the first place, then you won’t be affected when the loophole is closed. This brings me to a point that can apply in all aspects of life:
The CAN-SPAM Act, and other laws governing email marketing, have a lot of great guidance, but most of these laws lack specifics, meaning that in many cases, the law is what you interpret it to be. There have been many changes to help clear up questions, and the upcoming CASL Law
in development should add further clarification. The problem is that the CASL law does not necessarily apply to senders outside of Canada, just as the CAN-SPAM Act does not apply to senders outside of the USA. So the question remains, could a marketer set up an outfit in another country and legally send emails that do not comply with these requirements? Absolutely, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.
Sadly, because of the history created by spammers and bad marketing, it’s been left up to the ESPs to find solutions to those loopholes, which can sometimes make it hard for legitimate marketing emails to make it into the inbox. In this case, doing your best is easier than doing your worst.