How to pass the enhanced filter of email operators


Message operators, inundated with emails during the coronavirus, are tightening their filtering rules. Here’s how to slip through the cracks.

Buried in the shadow of post-coronavirus marketing, email operators are saturating… and toughening their methods for filtering commercial emails. A way to protect their customers from unwanted communications but also to maintain their own brand image. In fact, the latter was hit with scam attempts that doubled at the same time as sending emails for marketing purposes. “We have observed an average increase of 30% in emails received during the coronavirus and malicious actors have taken advantage of this to act,” figures Alain Dostalt, head of the abuse cell at Orange. La Poste and Orange, two of the major made-in-France email services, confirm this: brands have to be more careful if they want to pass message operators’ filters. A reminder of some ground rules with industry professionals.

Adhering to the concept of consent

“Internet users who receive unsolicited emails do not hesitate to report them to us as spam. In the event that many of them do, we take action by blocking the sender”

“A number of advertisers, in the chaos caused by the coronavirus crisis, have forgotten the basic rules of email marketing and sent emails to contacts who did not give their consent,” laments Loïc Péron, SEMEA Customer Success Manager at Validity. Violation of the GDPR which can result in offenders paying a heavy fine…but also paid for by the messaging service provider. “Internet users who receive unsolicited emails do not hesitate to report them to us as spam. If many of them do so, we take action by blocking the sender,” confirms Alain Dostalt. This is very harmful because email providers have good memory, so your reputation as a sender will be tarnished in future campaigns.

If brands are legally required to allow a user to withdraw their consent via a link embedded in the email, many make this process an obstacle to limit opting out. Error. Recipients who fail to unsubscribe will have no choice but to report them as spam. Therefore it is necessary to make it a visible option for everyone. “It is better to prefer the quality of contacts over their number,” recalls Paul de Vumbel, COO of Sarbacane Software.

Some marketers even opt for the double opt-in rule to ensure that their contact list consists exclusively of valid email addresses (an Internet user’s registration is only confirmed when they click to confirm the email received). This avoids any risks of incorrect email when a potential customer makes a mistake when filling out the registration form. Thus, email providers block campaigns from a certain (confidential) limit for invalid recipients. “This allows us to protect ourselves from spammers and dictionary attacks, and this justifies Carmen Piciorus, director of the abuse cell at La Poste. It’s a process that is difficult to reverse once activated.”

Clean your bases regularly

Creating an email database is a long-term task, as costly as it is time-consuming. This is why it is not always easy for a marketer to resolve to remove email addresses that are no longer interactive. However it is essential to maintain your brand’s reputation with email service providers. “Email database cleanliness should be a constant concern,” warns Alain Doustalit. “It’s pointless to keep addresses that haven’t been requested in several months or that haven’t clicked on an email for a long time.” This advice is of course qualified according to the life cycle of your product. A car advertiser might think in years that a ready-to-wear brand would think in months. However, it is crucial to monitor inactive addresses. Carmen Piciorus reveals that “our users’ mailboxes are archived after four months of inactivity”.

Prioritize shipment quality over quantity

Loïc Péron notes that “message operators today insist on the level of commitment of contacts requested by email.” Did they click the email? If not, did they put it in the trash or report it as spam? These are all factors that are taken into account by spam filters in mailboxes. “Mass correspondence should therefore be avoided, it is necessary to give privilege each time the recipients interact,” recommends Loïc Péron. This is quite true because, in Paul de Vumpel’s opinion, “there are seldom subjects which justify sending them to your entire base”. The expert advises “dividing up each of the emails based on the history of interactions”.

“You have to raise the bar so that the receiving server recognizes the IP address and sending domain as legitimate”

For those who are just getting started with email marketing and then have a sending IP address unknown to their inboxes, Paul de Fombelle recommends another strategy. You must use IP Warming. Obviously, start with small emails, a maximum of a hundred emails, and gradually increase the number of recipients. “You go up in the load until the receiving server recognizes your IP address and your sending range as legitimate,” sums up Paul de Fombelle. It is important, in this perspective, to constantly analyze returns from receiving servers. Paul warns Fombella “The latter sends logs with each transmission to explain to you how the recipient is behaving. It may happen that they take the opportunity to ask you to stop sending them emails for a certain period of time.” A way for these receiving servers to make sure they are dealing with real interlocutors and not bots. However, the expert recommends not addressing this topic alone. “Those who engage in email marketing shouldn’t get carried away, that is exactly what spammers would look like. They should rely on the expertise of an email marketing specialist, who has mastered various technical challenges, including IP warming and feeding loops review.”

Be clear in sending

Now Internet users are often faced with phishing attempts, and Internet users are, in the opinion of Alain Doustalit, “more and more suspicious when opening an email.” A lack of trust can sometimes hurt the brands themselves. “We sometimes have perfectly legitimate campaigns that are highly reported by our clients because the slightly clumsy wording makes it sound like a phishing attempt,” Carmen Piciorus testifies. La Poste expert recommends avoiding “the image in the body of the email with a clickable button”. The format is already widely used by phishing experts. It is important to eliminate any doubt in the recipient’s mind so that they are clear in their transmission.

“From choosing an email address to a subject line, customers should quickly understand why you’re emailing them,” advises Alain Dostalt. Keep, whatever service sends the message, the editorial charter itself. Carmen Piciorus provides an example of a brand that decided to direct users to a landing page with icons very different from the aesthetics of their site. Those, confused, fear rape. Likewise, the use of the “check your information” formula, in Carmen Pecurus’ opinion, is counterproductive. “This raises the suspicion of users who immediately report such campaigns to us for fear of their illegality.” Carmen Piciorus recommends that you describe to the user the steps they will have to follow, in the body of the email, rather than just a clickable button.

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