In an effort to control spam, ISP's (AOL, Yahoo, etc.) continue to tighten their standards. Deliverability of e-mails is increasingly becoming dependent upon statistics accumulated by Internet reputation raters and by the ISP's themselves. While this process is not entirely transparent, we have concluded that all of the following can play a factor in these ratings:
- number of complaints received
- number of bad email addresses
- number of messages opened relative to the number of messages sent
- number of messages deleted without opening
- spam trap hits
Internet reputation is assigned to both the e-mail service provider (Trail Blazer, in this case) and to the domain associated with the From address (that's you).
The fact that a reputation is associated with Trail Blazer's servers means that your actions can affect the deliverability of e-mails sent by other Trail Blazer clients and the actions of other Trail Blazer clients can affect the deliverability of your e-mails.
In the past ISP's have focused on complaints, bad email addresses, and spam trap hits, and the sender didn't appear to pay a penalty for sending e-mail that didn't get read. We believe things have changed such that continuing to send e-mail to a recipient that never reads the e-mail will cause harm to our respective Internet reputations (yours and ours) and potentially interfere with delivability of e-mail to other individuals.
This feature was implemented with the goal of increasing open rates by filtering out those messages that aren't likely to be read.
How this feature is used
This feature allows you to perform one of two actions if the number of unopened messages since the last registered open (see 'How opens are registered' below) exceeds a specified number.
You can either bypass sending the message or you can (if this feature is enabled) send the message but with a 'request for confirmation' of interest in continuing to receive e-mail. If you opt for the latter, the recipient will be requested to either confirm their interest by pressing a link or be given the option of unsubscribing. No further e-mail will be sent on that address until a response has been received.
How opens are registered
The process of determining when an e-mail has been opened and read is necessarily a bit imprecise. This imprecision should be considered in setting the message threshold for use with this feature.
Each message sent by Trail Blazer includes both an HTML form (which provides for formatting and the display of images) and a Text form. The e-mail reader used by the recipient then can either read the e-mail as an HTML message or a text message, depending upon the recipient's preferences. The vast majority of e-mails are now opened as HTML messages.
In the HTML form of an email, Trail Blazer includes in the message body a reference to a single-pixel image. When a recipient opens the message, (subject to the exception discussed in the next paragraph) the recipient's e-mail reader contacts the Trail Blazer server to retrieve that single-pixel image. It is at that point that Trail Blazer registers the e-mail as having been opened.
For privacy reasons, many e-mail readers now require the recipient's consent before downloading images. That means a recipient can open and read the text of a message without Trail Blazer recognizing the message as having been opened.
For the text form of an email, since images are not available, Trail Blazer can only recognize an open when the recipient clicks on a tracked hyperlink.