Who’s the Postmaster?
ISPs and email providers understand that a lot of commercial email is not unsolicited email. Much of it is actually email that their users have requested, whether it be for a weekly email from a fan club they’re part of, or the status of an order on Amazon. To help this solicited email actually reach their customers, most major ISPs and email providers have a dedicated Postmaster site. Unfortunately, this means the Postmaster is not a person wearing a special hat. What the site actually contains are information and tools designed to help guide companies sending commercial email. Examples of what is included at these sites:
- Information on Best Practices
- Email troubleshooting information and tools
- Support requests for mailers
- A Postmaster Blog
- Feedback Loop (FBL) information (this will be covered in a later post)
What is actually provided varies greatly depending on which ISP or email provider you are dealing with. This post will provide links and a brief overview of the Postmaster sites for many of the major ISPs and email providers, the next post will get into a little bit of detail on how to utilize some of the tools that they provide. One quick note, before you continue, you may wish to setup a postmaster@<yourdomain>.com email account or email alias. Some of the tools will try to contact that email address directly, so it’s best to have it in place. It’s also considered an industry best practice to have it setup.
The AOL Postmaster site has a significant number of tools and information. It covers best practices on sending email to AOL and provides tools to check your IP address’s reputation and submit support requests.
The AT&T Postmaster site has email best practices, frequently asked questions, and a block inquiry form to request support from AT&T. AT&T also owns Ameritech, BellSouth, and SBC Global, among others, so this is the postmaster site for those users as well.
The Bluetie/Excite Postmaster site has guidelines and requirements for inbound email, SMTP error codes, and a support form.
The Charter Postmaster Services site is really just an extended FAQ that covers both their users and those sending email to their users. One of the items includes an email that you can send your original message to if it was blocked, but there is little else available in direct help.
The Comcast Postmaster site contains email best practices, information on their mail delivery messages, and a form to submit to get removed from their Realtime Block List (RBL).
The Cox Postmaster site has information on their email error codes, guidelines for successful email delivery, and directions on how to get unblocked.
Earthlink only has a Postmaster email address. It is fblrequest at abuse.earthlink.net.
This is Gmail’s Bulk Senders Guidelines. It is a list of their best practices and a good set of guidelines in general. There is also a good Bulk Email Senders tool that walks you through possible issues and provides a link to a support form.
The Hotmail Postmaster site has a lot of information, including their email policies and lots of troubleshooting information.
Time Warner Road Runner
Road Runner’s Postmaster site has information on sending email to Road Runner customers, a pretty informative tool to check IP addresses, and links to send support requests.
Yahoo’s Postmaster site includes frequently asked questions and information on the Yahoo SMTP error codes.
And that is about it. Part 2 will cover some of the above in a little more depth, especially touching on the Postmaster sites that have worthwhile troubleshooting tools.