The ISP Change Up: Why Can’t They Just Stick to One Thing?


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We understand how you feel. Every time you think you have it all figured out, the ISPs go and change their process for evaluating email. It can be frustrating for a marketer, but it truly is something they have to do. You see, while you are busy trying to follow all the best practices to ensure email delivery, spammers are dreaming up new and devious ways to get malicious email past the ISPs. In fact, that’s their full time job and they can be pretty good at it! Of the 144 billion emails sent per day worldwide in 2012, 68.8%% of those emails were spam.

Thwarting a Thief

Think about it this way. If someone kept breaking into your house, wouldn’t you try different ways to keep the bad people out? First you might try new locks, then an alarm system, and then perhaps a guard dog. You may opt for security cameras and depending on your level of importance, hire a personal bodyguard. From a corporate perspective, security gets a bit more complex requiring a full security detail aligned with documentation and security tools like sign in sheets, key cards, or tiered access. You’ll try all the things you can to secure the premises and continuously improve the process when you find gaps in the infrastructure whether intentional or accidental.

ISPs go through the same process on a different level. They come up with policies and procedures to keep spam out of the network. And unfortunately, those systems get tested every day. With spammers working 24/7 to break down those barriers, unfortunately some manage to get through. ISPs then have to take that data and create new ways to thwart these criminals. Adding to the complexity, ISPs aren’t all built the same. They each have different ways of locating spammers. Just like the National Guard, FBI, and local police department have their own ways of solving crimes, so do Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail and the many other ISPs out there.

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What Happens If…

So what would the world look like if ISPs didn’t make it hard for the spammers? Here are the top 10 things we would predict:

1)    No universal policies or standards creates an email free-for all; it’s every man for themselves.

2)    Email delivery reaches 100%, but inboxes are so flooded that “mailbox full” is no longer considered a soft bounce, but instead is characterized as a hard bounce.

3)    Malicious email carrying malware and viruses results in a huge uptick in security software worldwide.

4)    Email response rates dramatically decline because users are scared to click on their email.

5)    The cost of sending email goes up as companies need to send and spend more on email in order to get a response.

6)    More is more becomes the main mantra of mailers.

7)    The CAN-SPAM Act goes the way of the processed meat.

8)    Corporations upgrade security settings to the max so sending and receiving corporate email becomes basically impossible.

9)    The telephone becomes popular again.

10)  Email could actually die—for real this time

Believe it or not, there are some ISPs that purposely ignore spam reports and essentially serve as spam havens. Spamhaus provides a list here. If you still feel a bit overwhelmed, contact us. We have the tools to help you wade through all the details so you can focus on exactly what works for you.

For more information, check out our free webinar hosted by two of email deliverability experts: Google, Yahoo!, and Hotmail, Oh My!: Navigating the ISP Landscape.


When Kate isn't trying to teach herself the ukelele, make it through the mountain of books on her nightstand, or figure out if they are actually being serious about suggested serving sizes on ice cream, she is the Content Marketing Coordinator. Kate's responsible for content creation and social media management. Translation? She loves those #hashtags.

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