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Smarter Commerce | October 22, 2014

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Mail.com Bulk Foldering 90% of Inbound Mail

We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world and that not every solution is elegant. One recent example we’ve run across is the mass bulk folder placement for mail bound for the mail.com domain. We at Pivotal Veracity began to track massive quantities of mail landing in the bulk folder starting around February 17th. To be more accurate, only 1 in 5 mailers were able to deliver mail to Mail.com starting on the 17th and that number fell over the next few days to 1 in 10 with over 90% of all mailers winding up in the bulk folder.

The good news is that it wasn’t the fault of marketers. Nope, you can take this to your boss and let him or her know that it really wasn’t anything you did. As a matter of fact you followed the rules and setup SPF, SenderID, DK and DKIM just to be safe. You probably checked your feedback loops wondering if there was a massive spike of complaints that caused your mail to wind up in the bulk folder and found nothing of the like.

What Happened

As some of you may or may not know, AOL.com owns the Mail.com domain. That’s right, AOL hosts the mailboxes for Mail.com and has recently sold off that property to GMX.com, a German domain and internet provider (subsidiary of United Internet). AOL is currently transitioning the mailboxes for Mail.com to GMX. According to AOL there is a problem with the SPF verification. Mailers who did a bit of investigation could see this because other domains, such as Yahoo! and AOL.com would pass the SPF signature while Mail.com would fail it:

AOL
X-AOL-SPF: domain : b.email.foo.com SPF : pass

Yahoo
Received-SPF: pass (mta1018.mail.re4.yahoo.com: domain of bo-bxxhq3haxk0d2bau6ht7ccfv85yk15@b.email.foo.com designates xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx as permitted sender)

Mail.com
X-AOL-SPF: domain : b.email.foo.com SPF : fail

The solution that AOL has come up with, and we should see delivery rates rising as of today, is to stop verifying SPF signatures during the transition phase. Mailers should not take this as a free pass to the inbox. Quite the contrary, this demonstrates how vigilant mailers have to be in terms of ensuring the delivery of their email. Let’s face it, no one is perfect and you are responsible for knowing where your email lands and when. We hope that the AOL and GMX teams get this resolved soon, we can see an uptick in delivery already and are anticipating an overall rise as the week finishes off.

Cheers!
-Len Shneyder
Sr. Product Marketing Mgr.
Pivotal Veracity | Unica | IBM

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