Email marketing has grown over the years from people sending simple, mass emails from their windows mail accounts through to the current incarnation of great looking emails that tell you what is actually happening with your important communications. However, as the industry grows and more people start using this great form of quickly communicating with their customers, the goals and the rules get changed by the ISPs (Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, etc) as we have a fresh set of challenges that we have to guide people through.
The latest update to the rules of email marketing has been made by AOL and Yahoo!, in a nutshell, if you are using email addresses from their domain to communicate via third party systems (such as ourselves and other companies who do email marketing) then they will take the drastic action of blocking them! They are taking this action to combat spam and other dangerous tactics known as phishing (Phishing is where it looks like it's come from one person/company but actually it hasn't - for more information on this, click here).
So how do emails normally get delivered?
Normally, emails get sent straight from you, to the customer (just like the simple diagram below) - this then is effectively one-to-one communication, going from source to source without any other 3rd party systems.
How do emails get delivered via your system and other email marketing platforms?
When people sign up for our system, either for the free trial or after that as a customer, we ask them to approve an email address in the system. this basically means they give us permission to use their email address for their communications (don't worry, this is only on your account and no-one else can use it! it's all safe). This means that the emails come from our whitelisted servers (helping to get your emails delivered thanks to our reputation), then on to the recipient, in this case below, your customer.
What the new changes to Yahoo! and AOL basically mean, that if you are sending emails from an AOL email address (or Yahoo! address) to their domain - so Fred.Bloggs@AOL.com to Joe.Bloggs@AOL.com from a third party system, then they will potentially block them from being delivered.
So how do I avoid this to make sure my emails reach my customers?
The simplest and perhaps the best way of avoiding this issue (and the issue you will have when Gmail, Hotmail, etc eventually follow them with this change) is to not use a AOL or Yahoo email address, taking the steps to have your own domain for your business. This is important on so many levels as it helps you not only build a strong brand identity but it also means that when it comes to email marketing, you start to build your own reputation with the ISPs and that is always a good thing as it will help with your emails to get to the right places!