Yahoo! Implements Big Filtering Change

Discussion in 'In The News' started by roundabout, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    Yahoo! Implements Big Filtering Change

    Yahoo! has just confirmed something we have been tracking at Responsys for the past several weeks. They are now applying more weight in their filtering to subscriber engagement metrics. These metrics include whether your subscribers are opening, clicking, or otherwise interacting with the email you send them.

    What Does This Mean For Marketers?

    For marketers, this means it has just become more difficult to reach a large portion of your subscribers. With Yahoo! typically comprising up to 40% of a consumer marketers' email list in North America, this has major implications for big brands.

    Back in February this year, Gmail stepped forward with new filtering rules that add focus to how engaged your email audience is. If you're sending email to a bunch of people who never open or click, this is a signal to the ISP that people really don't care to receive email from you. Now ISPs are stepping in and routing this unwanted email to the spam folder, saving the recipient time and effort.

    What's a Marketer to do?

    Yahoo! has been around as a webmail provider for a long time. If you have people on your list who subscribed years ago and rarely or never open or click, this would be a good time to cut your losses. No longer can you simply keep sending to the unengaged masses and expect the ISP to keep delivering this unwanted email.

    You can see how engaged your subscribers are by reading open and click data. If a subscriber hasn't opened or clicked in months, they're not interested. Cut back on your send frequency to the less engaged, and stop mailing entirely to the unengaged addresses on your list.

    This segment is not reading or buying from you anyway, so you have little to lose. On the other hand, continuing to send email frequently to the unengaged will trigger filtering on all your email, and you'll lose the opportunity to reach even your engaged audience. This will gut the effectiveness of your email program.

    The definition of active/inactive subscribers is different for every mailer depending on your business model. But in any case, the activity window is measured in months, not years.

    Industry Implications

    With Gmail leading this industry shift in February this year and now Yahoo! following suit, engagement filtering is here to stay. From an ISP's perspective, it works well. Expect to see more of this from other ISPs in the coming months.

    Metrics

    Deliverability monitoring has become more complicated than in the past. Popular seed monitoring tools are not designed to measure engagement-based filtering. Seed accounts by definition represent unengaged subscribers - seed accounts don't open or click. For this reason, seed monitoring tools have a tendency to overstate delivery problems at Gmail and now also at Yahoo!

    The real deliverability metric to watch closely is your Unique Open Rate. If you see a sharp decline in open rates, or a relatively low open rate for one ISP compared to the others, this is a strong indication your email was filtered out and did not reach the inbox. Everyone's open rates are different, but if your Unique Open Rate at Gmail is 2% or less when other ISPs show much higher open rates, your email is landing in the Gmail Spam folder. Some people actually do go into their spam folder and open mail - but not many. If seed reporting is showing low inbox rates, but open rates look healthy, your mail is reaching the inbox.

    Don't forget all the other factors you learned about ISP filtering. You still need to keep spam complaints low, avoid mailing to spam traps, keep bounce rates low, etc. None of that went away.

    ISPs are raising the bar on entry to the inbox. Marketers need to watch their open rates more closely and not assume everything is fine because your send volumes are way up. Develop a smart and refined activity targeting plan based on individual subscriber open and click data. If you implement this plan consistently and watch your metrics regularly, you can have good delivery rates at Yahoo!, Gmail and other ISPs. You will actually see your open rates increase over historical norms.

    Source:
    http://www.responsys.com/blogs/nsm/2012/08/yahoo-implements-big-filtering-change.html
     
  2. nickphx

    nickphx VIP

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    ehh.. they've always weighed recipient engagement.. that's nothing new.
     
  3. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    When Engagement Began to Matter

    by George Bilbrey, Aug 1, 2012, 8:52 AM

    Since May we've been seeing more evidence that ISPs are gaining confidence in their use of engagement data. This is a trend we've watched closely, because bulk delivery decisions based on user behavior can make reaching the inbox even harder for lots of mailers.

    Last week we got confirmation that engagement data has become a far more prominent component of deliverability at one major ISP: Yahoo.

    We'd contacted Yahoo about a number of sender issues since seeing inbox placement rates drop by roughly 3% this summer, and poor user response was cited as a cause of bulking. More recently, the company warned that as it improves its ability to analyze behavior to determine what users want delivered to their inboxes, some senders -- even responsible mailers -- may face deliverability challenges.

    While Yahoo's increased use of engagement metrics to block email is new, the company has made no secret of its intent to use more sophisticated metrics to filter email. And it's not alone. Microsoft has long incorporated Hotmail user response (Junk/Not Junk, Opens/Delete No Open) in its filtering; Gmail prioritizes email with high engagement into the Priority Inbox. As top ISPs compete for customers, improving their inbox experience will continue to be a primary focus. It's important to follow this development because:

    What's now a relatively minor component of email deliverability decisions by handful of receivers may become a far more prominent factor in determining whether vital marketing campaigns reach the inbox.

    Deliverability monitoring becomes much more complicated in an environment where individual users' interaction with messages helps determine inbox placement.

    Two things can help you reach the inbox as engagement becomes a factor:

    First and foremost, keep focusing on delivering a great email user experience. The same practices that maintain your sender reputation-well segmented lists, authentication, active brand protection - can help prevent poor engagement from undermining your deliverability and campaign performance. But you might want to step it up. The bar has really been raised and marketers who are squeaking by with high-volume, low-response programs are going to start to lose out, at least with Yahoo.

    Second, use versatile deliverability monitoring approaches to establish performance across the receiver landscape. Ideally, this means using panel data -- metrics showing actual recipients' engagement with real email messages as well as the actual inbox placement for those exact users to enhance the deliverability picture that seedlist data provide. Even as the biggest ISPs explore how user behavior should affect inbox placement, most will continue to rely on the reputation factors that have always influenced inbox placement rates.

    Thanks to the Return Path Email Intelligence Group, and specifically Christine Borgia and Melinda Plemel, for their work to confirm this key industry development. I couldn't have written this column without them.

    Read more: http://www.mediapost.com/publicatio...engagement-began-to-matter.html#ixzz22owKvHG4
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  4. postmaster

    postmaster VIP

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    Thanks for the post.
     

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