Aug
05
2010

How The Latest Hotmail Features Will Impact Deliverability

Microsoft has recently announced enhancements to its Windows Live Hotmail, including features that “help busy people with full lives.” The CheetahMail deliverability team has reviewed these new features and offers these thoughts on their potential impact on senders.

How The Latest Hotmail Features Will Impact Deliverability

Some of the new features that should have a positive impact on email deliverability include:

  • Trusted Senders Icon — Hotmail will now help visually identify ‘trusted senders’ in your inbox, particularly banks and other senders most commonly impersonated in phishing scams, by putting safety logos next to those senders recognized as legitimate. While the exact details on this feature are limited right now, it will most likely be based on a combination of authentication and a consistently positive mailing reputation.
  • Tabs — Organizational tools will appear at the top of the inbox that will allow the user to display messages received from specific contacts, certain social networks (such as Facebook notifications), pre-selected email groups, or all of their mail. In addition, “Quick Views” will be available that will automatically sort four types of emails into their respective folders: Flagged, Photos, Office Docs, and Shipping Updates. These tabs can benefit senders by addressing inbox overload issues.

One of the new features that should have a negative impact on senders and deliverability as a whole:

  • Time Traveling Filters — Microsoft’s filters can retroactively remove messages that were placed in the inbox if the reputation of the sender later turns out to be poor and the recipient has not yet opened the message in their inbox. That means there’s no longer a guarantee that a message delivered to the inbox will actually stay there until the recipient acts on it.

In addition to these two deliverability enhancements, there are also some new user interface features and ‘behind the scenes’ developments that can have either positive or negative effects on senders. These include:

  • Preference auto-learning/prompts — Subscribers that delete messages without opening them multiple times will be prompted if they want to unsubscribe from that sender (assuming the sender is populating a ‘list-unsubscribe’ setting in their transmission header). This will have positive and negative affects for senders; it will undoubtedly reduce list size by some amount, however, it removes recipients who are no longer engaged which should improve open and conversion rates.
  • Sweep — This feature allows users to clean out their inbox in one ‘sweep’ effort. In a single-click, a user can select a single e-mail sender, or multiple senders, and automatically delete or move every message from that sender out of their inbox. A positive byproduct of this feature is that senders whose mail is swept should not suffer any impact to their reputation since the number of unsubscribes and spam complaints should decrease as more recipients use sweep rather than unsubscribing, deleting or complaining. However, it’s important to remember that just because a complaint rate is low doesn’t mean that the sender’s reputation and deliverability is good. Hotmail will still check email quality, engagement and other relevant statistics to further identify legitimate messaging. Additionally, the sweep function remembers user preferences, so if a user sweeps a sender’s mail once, Hotmail is likely to continue to sweep that sender’s mail to the designated folder until the user intervenes.
  • Delete all of them? — Upon deleting a single email from a sender, users may be prompted to “Delete all of them?” with the ability to block all future messages from that particular sender. This action should have the same positive/negative effects as the Preference auto-learning/prompts.

These enhancements to Hotmail can have both positive and negative effects on senders. These changes are primarily designed so that fewer true spam messages will appear in your subscriber’s inbox, which will allow the subscriber greater time to interact with legitimate messages from legitimate senders.


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