How to Optimize Email Deliverability for Your AOL Users

How’s your email deliverability for subscribers who use AOL as their Internet service provider (ISP)? Here we focus on deliverability issues specific to AOL based on some of the latest information revealed at the 2015 Email Evolution Conference (EEC).

The final session at this year’s EEC featured four representatives of the largest ISPs – including Paul Rock from AOL – who answered questions from email marketers on deliverability.

AOL Listens to Customers to Determine What Emails Get Filtered

When it comes to filtering email, AOL listens to their customers. According to Rock, AOL doesn’t want to deliver email that their users don’t want or expect. He estimates that fewer than 5% of the email messages that arrive at their server door are legitimate, permission-based emails. The rest of the emails, AOL filters out.

Similar to the other ISP representatives at the EEC this year, Rock explained that he doesn’t have visibility into whether an AOL subscriber clicks an email message. This is both a technological challenge for the ISPs as well as a privacy issue. AOL’s privacy team won’t allow them to look at clicks.

Some of the factors that AOL uses to measure subscriber engagement and determine sender reputation include the following:

  • A user moving the email among folders is a positive signal.
  • A user marking an email as spam is a very bad signal.
  • A user marking an email as not spam is a very good signal.

Where Does AOL Stand on Spam Traps & Migrations?

When it comes to inactive email accounts, Rock indicated that after a certain period of inactivity, AOL simply disables the email account so it can’t be used. Although AOL created some spam traps out of abandoned accounts years ago, that’s not the case today.

Where does AOL stand if you’re migrating to a new IP address or new email service provider (ESP)? Rock indicated that AOL allows such migrations with relative ease, if you have a valid, well-managed domain.

What Should You Do If You’re Having AOL Deliverability Problems?

If you find your email campaigns are not making it to your AOL subscribers’ inboxes, here are a few links to help you solve the problem:

  • In addition to using Spamhaus and CBL/XBL blacklists, AOL also maintains their own blacklists. So if you receive a bounce-back from AOL, your IP may be blacklisted in their system. If you get on one of AOL’s blacklists, you must contact them to get off of the list. To check your reputation, you can query your server IP against their database at the following link:

AOL uses domain-based reputation and domain-based whitelisting. This means your emails must pass authentication checks, including:

For more information about AOL’s DMARC policy, click on the following link:

  • Rock also emphasized that email marketers should use feedback loops. If you create a feedback loop with AOL, for example, you’ll get a copy of each complaint generated when an AOL user reports your email as spam. For more information about AOL’s feedback loop, click on the following link:

Additionally, Rock advised that you should pay attention to the spam that arrives in your own personal email account. In that way, you can figure out what those senders are doing wrong and learn from their mistakes.

If your company is looking for ways to optimize your email deliverability, FulcrumTech can help. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and get started today.

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