The Importance of Whitelisting and Feedback LoopsOur CEO, Jared Reitzin wrote a great article for DM News a few days ago about the importance of sender reputation and how it can affect successful email deliverability. Among the items discussed were suggestions around lowering complaint rates, list hygiene, branding and relevancy. In addition to these recommendations, I would like to note something else that I have found a lot of clients either don\’t understand, or even know about, ISP whitelisting and feeback loop programs.

While it sometimes is hard to believe, ISPs really do want to try and work with legitimate senders to get their messages delivered to the Inbox. As such, some of them offer whitelisting and feedback loop programs to not only give priority to senders that qualify, but also give sender a chance to clean up their subscriber lists and remove those that don\’t want to receive their messages. Here\’s how the two programs work:

With spam continuing to clog email boxes, ISPs have created very powerful spam filtering systems to block out unwanted email. While this is effective for blocking real spam, it also has the potential, and likeliness, of blocking legitimate email that was actually requested by the sender – known as a \”false positive\”

To help prevent these false positives, ISPs offer a \”whitelisting\” program to senders that can show they are legitimate, and are sending email to those that have requested it. Criteria that an ISP will look at before considering whitelisting a sender includes:

    · Complaint rate
    · Volume
    · Opt-in and unsubscribe practices
    · Bounce handling
    · List management

Once a sender is whitelisted, their email is given a higher priority, and in most cases, can affect whether their messages make it into the Inbox, bulked, or outright blocked.

Feedback Loops:
Another program that ISPs offer to senders is a \”feedback loop\”. Most have a \”this is spam\” button or some other way to mark an unwanted message. When a sender signs up for a feedback loop, the ISP will then send a copy of the original email back to the company with an understanding that they will remove that contact from their active mailing lists ASAP. Here\’s a typical scenario:

    1. Sender has a feedback loop set up with ISP
    2. Sender sends an email to their subscriber Jane .
    3. Jane marks the message as spam
    4. ISP sends back the original message that the sender sent to Jane.
    5. Sender removes Jane from their active mailing list

One caveat to the feedback loop program is that some ISPs will remove or \”redact\” the recipient email address from the original email sent. In this case, it is up to the sender to use other means (tracking URL, subscriber ID, etc.) to determine to whom the original email was sent.

Whitelisting and feedback loops are great to have in place and are a real asset to attaining good email deliverability. However, actually getting set up for these programs can actually be a little tricky, as ISPs sometimes don\’t advertise very well (or at all) how to do so. If you have any questions regarding this topic, feel free to add your comments below. Also, be sure to check out our delivery service packages on our site.

Best Regards,

Jaren Angerbauer
Director of Deliverability

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