Even though the email industry is moving toward authentication and certification to separate spammers and phishers from legitimate senders, “whitelists” and “blacklists” are still the first line of defense for many ISPs and individual users.
They use both lists to determine whether your email gets delivered as you intend, to the inbox instead of the junk folder and with images intact instead of blocked.
Essentially, the whitelist allows your email in, and the blacklist keeps it out.
This month, we’ll show you how to get on a whitelist. Check back next month to learn how to stay off or get off a blacklist.
How to Seek ISP Whitelisting
ISP whitelists usually include these kinds of data:
Desktop clients such as Outlook and Eudora rely on individual users to compile whitelists. However, Web clients AOL and Yahoo! Mail allow you to apply for whitelisting status. MSN/Hotmail uses Bonded Sender data to determine whether and where to filter email.
For other ISPs, look on their corporate Web sites for “postmaster” or bulk-email information and see if they offer whitelisting. Whitelisting doesn’t guarantee that your email will be delivered the way you want, but it improves the odds.
In addition to individual whitelists based on the user’s address book, Yahoo! Mail operates a general whitelist.
Like Yahoo!, AOL has a systemwide whitelist. It doesn’t guarantee that whitelisted senders will always get their messages delivered to the inbox instead of the junk folder. But, whitelisted senders who meet stricter volume and complain criteria might qualify for AOL’s enhanced whitelist. Email messages from those senders show up with hotlinks and images enabled instead of blocked.
Note: You can’t apply for the enhanced whitelist. AOL adds only a small percentage of senders who meet limits on volume — how many messages sent at one time to its servers — and spam complaints in a rolling 30 -day period. You could be on it one day and off it the next. Keep monitoring volume and complaints, though.
How to Get on Individual Whitelists
You probably have a line in your email message near the top, asking the recipient to add your sending address to his or her address book or contact/safe-sender list. But, that’s almost too late in the process.
Also, putting the line at the top means readers who read only a portion of your message in the preview pane are not getting the information they need to decide whether to open your email to full size or even scroll through the preview pane.