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2018 Deliverability Year In Review – Mailgun Festivus Miracles

Nick Schafer
5 min read

Festivus is fast upon us, in fact, it’s in a few days. We’ve taken the time to air our grievances over Black Friday emails and how Yahoo and AOL slowed down sending this year, but we still haven’t quite found our miracle yet. We aren’t entirely sure we’ll find one, but there is something to be said about a thoughtful reflection on the past year. Some things changed, a lot of things didn’t, but everything that did and didn’t happen have everything to do with your deliverability.

In all honesty, not a lot has changed over the past year when it comes to deliverability. We would love to say that there was some massive miracle like the discovery of a bat phone that led us straight to mailbox providers around the world so we could resolve your email delivery issues immediately with just a phone call. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and most certainly never will, but we can all dream a little bit, right?

Ok, so back to reality. The truth is that the same core principles hold true. Email Best Practicesare still king. Send great content to people that want your emails and you will have great deliverability. Try to push your luck and send emails to people that didn’t opt-in to receive your messages, not so much.

The thing is, there aren’t any shortcuts or ways to “game” the system. Trust us, spammers have tried them all and mailbox providers know about it. If you do “try” something similar, you too will look like a spammer and be punished like one. So please don’t get caught up in that mess.

This is a post on miracles though so we gotta talk about some small miracles from the past year!

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Miracle #1 – DMARC Adoption

One thing that has been great to see over the last year was the increased adoption of DMARC. It’s been a slow go and rightfully so, setting up DMARC policies for your sending domains can be a daunting task after all. However, we’ve seen more and more senders protecting their domains against malicious actors through the creation of DMARC policies.

This is something we expect to continue in 2019. If you haven’t already done so, we strongly recommend that you adopt DMARC. As a bonus, DMARC can help with your deliverability! If you aren’t protected, people could be spoofing your domain and damaging your reputation without you even knowing it.

Miracle #2 – Universal Feedback Loop

Our friends at Return Path really did us a solid with the release of their Universal Feedback Loop. For those that don’t know what a feedback loop is, it basically lets us know when a complaint has been registered against one of our sending IPs. The participating mailbox provider will send us what they call an Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) report that contains information related to the message that was complained against. We then take that information and process the complaint, and that’s how email addresses get added to your complaints suppression list in Mailgun.

This is why feedback loops are so important to us and you as a sender. If we didn’t get this information, you would continually email recipients that have complained against you previously which would kill your reputation and deliverability. What Return Path did was make a painful and time-consuming process easier, and that is a Festivus miracle we can get behind.

Something that was once an 18 (that’s how many mailbox providers partner with Return Path) step process, now only takes 1 step when we need to add new IPs. So thank you Return Path, thank you.

Miracle #3 – GDPR day

You can’t end 2018 without mentioning GDPR. May 25, 2018, was a date that concerned a lot of people and rightfully so, since everyone had to take their big beautiful email lists and toss them out the window. If you’re thinking about that brief period of time where every company was sending out “we’ve updated our privacy terms” then yes, you’re thinking of GDPR.

It wasn’t easy. A lot of senders ended up fighting blacklists, but that’s to be expected when you send a re-permission campaign to old lists. It’s hard for teams to take a big, beautiful, engaged list and then toss it out the window (our marketing team had a hard time with it too). Overall, senders survived. They cleaned up their lists, updated privacy policies, and overall are in a better place because of GDPR. While it might seem like we’re making light of this, data privacy is a topic everyone should be interested in.

Wrapping it all up

All in all, 2018 was a good year for email. We had some ups and downs, but the core of sending remained the same. That isn’t a bad thing though, because that allows everyone to get their sending done right and stick to best practices that aren’t going anywhere any time soon. 2019 is bound to follow a similar path, and we’ll have a whole other list of grievances when the time comes.

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Last updated on August 28, 2020

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