If you’re an email marketer or email service provider, you may have read about Microsoft’s recent changes to its Windows Live Hotmail email client. Are you hosed? Maybe not, but these changes will definitely affect the way you send email campaigns to your Windows Live and Hotmail clients (Below, I’ll offer some suggestions for dealing with it). These changes include:
- Hotmail’s new ‘Trusted Senders’ icon visually identifies authenticated email, protecting recipients from phishing scams.
- The ‘Sweep’ feature allows readers in all Windows Live Hotmail clients to ‘sweep’ away incoming email from senders they’ve never engaged with into the trash as it comes in.
- ‘Time traveling’ filters allow Microsoft to retroactively remove emails that make it to the inbox if your reputation is found to be poor and the email has not yet been read.
- ‘One-click’ filters allow recipients to sort incoming emails by source type, putting only their known contacts at the top, while emails from email marketing senders fall to the bottom.
- ‘Prompted unsubscribe’ asks recipients who never open your emails if they want to unsubscribe. If they do, and you still send to them, you will be blocked.
So what can you do about it?
- Number one, get reacquainted with your email tracking and reporting tools. You will need benchmarks for your campaigns, specifically to Windows Live Hotmail, so you can see how performance changes.
- Next, start segmenting your Hotmail recipients into their own group, and customizing your email campaigns for them. For instance, you should send re-engagement campaigns more often, and ask to join your recipients’ contact lists.
- All of the ‘best practices’ stuff you try to do, such as clear subject lines, moderation in graphics, strong HTML coding, avoiding text triggers, and clean list management need to be used for all of your recipients, especially Hotmail.
- Add a clear unsubscribe message to the top of your emails, and honor unsubscribe requests without delay. This will avoid spam complaints and help recipients trust you as a sender.
- Use DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to increase confidence even further.
In short, if you use best practices across all of your email campaigns, you can avoid losing your reputation as a trusted sender, and only with care and practice will you keep getting delivered to Hotmail users on a regular basis. Windows Live Hotmail is making a list and checking it twice. Don’t be on it.
For more, read this excellent article by Tom Sathers at ReturnPath.