Deliverability Drilldown: Yahoo

Yahoo deliverability drilldown

This is part of our ongoing series looking at deliverability of your email marketing messages.

Today, we’re going to look at one of the oldest webmail providers, Yahoo! Mail. Despite the company’s difficulties in recent times, it still holds an estimated 310 million email users, making it the third largest web-based email provider, surpassed only by Hotmail (350 million) and Gmail (425 million) (source). Combined, the top 3 webmail providers now address over a billion users.

Before we begin, I’d advise you strongly to do this quick analysis of your email list to see how many addresses you have on your list.

Basics of Yahoo! Mail Deliverability

As with all forms of email marketing, your first and safest bet is to only send email to people who’ve asked to receive it. That never changes. Let’s look at what’s beyond that. Yahoo is one of the best email providers to work with in terms of feedback and marketer awareness.

1. SPF: Yahoo! Mail looks to see if you are properly authenticated using SPF. WhatCounts customers, you did this in your on-boarding process.

2. Yahoo! Mail provides copious feedback in terms of feedback loops. If your email service provider doesn’t have feedback loop support, you’re risking ignoring reports of spam. WhatCounts customers automatically have this handled – if someone flags you as spam, they’re automatically removed from your list to prevent future reports. In order to enroll in Yahoo! Mail feedback loops, you must have also implemented DKIM authentication. WhatCounts customers, you did this in your on-boarding process.

3. If your database is very Yahoo! Mail heavy, consider applying for Yahoo’s Bulk Sender program. As long as you’re following best practices, completing this form should be relatively straightforward. For WhatCounts customers, you may need the assistance of your account manager to answer some of the questions, but many other questions are very straightforward, like links to your privacy policy online.

4. Yahoo! Mail looks very carefully at list hygiene and places much more emphasis on it in their online documentation. Be sure you are regularly and frequently removing addresses that no longer work. Some email service providers like WhatCounts do this automatically.

Advanced Yahoo! Mail Deliverability

Yahoo! Mail recently confirmed in a MediaPost article that they are now using engagement-based spam filtering with much greater prominence than previously thought. Indications are that Yahoo! Mail is now penalizing senders with low response rates. What constitutes response rates? Opens, clicks, deletes without reading, and obvious markers like being flagged as spam.

It is now vitally important that users be opening and reading your emails, even if they never do anything else. Get the open!

Yahoo! Mail also recommends using a consistent From: address, so you may not want to A/B test that with Yahoo! Mail recipients more than occasionally.

Yahoo! Mail recommends that you publish PTR records in your DNS records that indicate your ownership of IP addresses. Note that editing DNS is a fairly advanced procedure, so make sure someone from your IT department handles this particular deliverability implementation. WhatCounts customers, contact your account managers for assistance with this, as this is not a mandatory part of on-boarding.

Like other major providers, Yahoo! Mail also relies on the List-Unsubscribe header to provide one-click unsubscribe functionality. If your email marketing program does not provide this header or the one provided does not work, you risk increased likelihood of being flagged as a spammer, so make sure to use it.

For WhatCounts customers on the Publicaster platform, List-Unsubscribe is automatically on.

For WhatCounts customers on the Professional platform, you need to enable List-Unsubscribe. To do this, go to Lists, find your list, click Advanced, and turn this on per-list:

Deliverability drilldown: List unsubscribe

We strongly recommend that Professional Edition users always turn this feature on.

We hope this deliverability drilldown into Yahoo! Mail has provided you with some immediately usable insights to help your email marketing program flourish. If your current email service provider is unable to assist you with any of these delivery to-dos, please feel free to contact WhatCounts.

Christopher S. Penn
Director of Inbound Marketing, WhatCounts


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