Top Tips to make sure you don’t fall into Hotmail’s junk folder
Outlook.com, or as those of us will always still call it, Hotmail, is usually 20-30% of your email list for a B2C sender. As a result any delivery issues to here will have a massive impact on your overall email performance. Therefore I have put together some top tips to help you avoid falling into the junk folder.
Be a Good Sender
Whether you land in the inbox, junk mail folder or don’t get seen at all is down to your reputation as a sender, and almost very little to do with the content of your email. Reputation is about how clean the email addresses you are sending to are and how many complaints you get. This reputation is set against the IP address of the server, and the domain of the sender. Unlike content which can easily be changed to bypass a filter, the reputation cannot be faked as it is tied to the IP address.
The main solution to getting a good reputation is to send good quality, relevant emails while keeping your list clean from old addresses.
Have good neighbours
If you are sharing an IP address alongside your other clients, you are not fully in control of your sending reputation. Your sending reputation is essentially the reputation of the IP address being used.
While many senders think a dedicated IP address is the right route for them it often isn’t if they have small infrequent volumes. What is important for all senders, is that those who are using the same IP address as you are also good, reputable senders. Using tools like Senderscore.org is useful as it helps identify who else is using the IP address.
Have a history
Like most things in life, if no-one has heard of you then you need to prove your credibility. If out of the blue an IP address starts sending high volumes of emails and Hotmail has no history to assess your reputation, then they fear the worst and treat you like a spammer. And this is fair enough really as it is easy for spammers to simply send until they get blocked, before then moving onto a new IP to send from.
At Emailcenter any client who goes onto a dedicated IP has a period of warming up where we send small volumes from the new IP, with the rest going across existing shared IP’s which already have a good reputation. We gradually increase the amount we are sending every day until the IP has built a good reputation.
Hotmail has a feedback loop that enables you to be alerted every time a subscriber hits the ‘Report as spam’ button on one of your emails. Emailcenter will automatically unsubscribe the customer at this point. This is vital to keep spam complaints at a low, acceptable level. By failing to do this, means you will end up getting repeat complaints, which in turn will see your overall complaints rise to an unacceptable level.
You may have heard of terms like Sender ID, DKIM and SPF records. These are all means of proving who you are by stating what IP addresses are allowed to send email from your domain. They don’t have a direct benefit in improving deliverability, but Hotmail now builds up a reputation on any domain with one of these records.
Where it does have an impact is if this is badly configured, and you send email from IP addresses outside what is stated in your SPF record. This then appears to Hotmail to be a phishing attack. Like when someone emails you pretending to be from your bank and asking for your login details.
Additionally, if you want to add new IP addresses you can get the benefits of the reputation on your domain, without having to do an as extensive warming up of the new IP address.
Avoid Spam Traps
Hotmail has a unique way in which it uses old mailboxes to monitor senders. An account which is closed, perhaps because the user has not logged in for a long period of time, will initially start sending a bounce message back, but will after a few months will be turned into a spam trap. Every time you send an email into a trap it hurts your sending reputation – and you have no means of working out which email address it is because Hotmail do not tell you.
To avoid hitting spam traps ensure that:
1) You keep a record of all bounced addresses and suppress against them. Maxemail does this automatically for you but it really crucial to remember to take this information with you when you move ESP, otherwise your first send can lead to delivery issues
2) Never load old data into your ESP that you stumble upon – chances are it will cause lots of pain
The best solution to solving all Hotmail issues is to get Certified by Return Path. Think of this as getting a licence to say you are a fit and proper emailer – and on the back of it, Hotmail delivers all your email to the inbox.
There are standards to adhere to, and an annual licence fee, but neither of these are an issue if you are a legitimate emailer.
For more information on getting your email into the inbox at Hotmail or any other email provider, speak to us today for expert advice.