Striata says companies can no longer rely on whitelisting as a tool to maximise email deliverability

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Gerhard du Plessis, Head of Service Delivery at, Striata, a global leader in paperless communication, speaks about the future value of whitelisting as a tool to maximise email deliverability.

Whitelisting used to be the holy grail of getting emails delivered to big corporate and webmail domains. But this has changed... ‘Comply or die’ is the email administrator’s new motto.

"In the past, whitelisting was very much the holy grail of getting emails delivered to big corporate and webmail domains. This has changed however, and ‘comply or die’ is the email administrator’s new motto," says Gerhard du Plessis, Head of Service Delivery at, Striata, a global leader in paperless communication.

"The larger webmail organisations (hotmail, yahoo, gmail) are not interested in being phoned by every email administrator to whitelist their sending domain. Instead, they set the rules and email senders must stick to them. If you break the rules, you pay . . . by getting blocked, throttled or blacklisted."

Du Plessis says that complying isn’t as easy as it sounds in a sentence. "For example, Yahoo’s rules can be tricky when you are sending to a large base even if it has been used regularly, because they measure traffic to non-existent mailboxes. In reality, people close down mailboxes and change email providers all the time, so there is a good chance you will have a ‘Does Not Exist’ email address in your base, no matter how clean or recent it is. This will cost you in delayed delivery times, as your emails are throttled."

Maintaining an acceptable Sender Reputation

"If you’re sending email yourself through an in-house solution or purchased software and find it hard to maintain an acceptable Sender Reputation, you probably need help from a specialist," explains du Plessis.

"Companies like Return Path specialise in improving deliverability through a range of services which includes whitelisting with hundreds of thousands of domains. Bear in mind that a service like Return Path will impose strict rules requiring that you have your own house in order – all the time."

"Alternatively, if your Email Service Provider (ESP) is worth their salt, they will be doing all these tasks already to manage Sender Reputation, which in turn will improve your ability to get email delivered."

Whitelisting is not completely gone

Du Plessis says that whitelisting may need to be used in extreme cases where the recipient server is configured to block as much email as possible. "The sender may need to approach the domain holder to amend their rules and if that is not possible, to consider a specific whitelist request. This should only be done if the sender complies with all reasonable rules and if the issue is a recurring one, not a once off problem relating to something like strain under load for example."

The feedback loop

A feedback loop (FBL) is a mechanism provided by ISP's that notifies the sender when an email is reported as spam or junk. "You can usually subscribe to an ISP’s feedback loop in the same way you’d request to be whitelisted.

"Each time a recipient of your email reports it as spam or junk, you will receive a report which enables you to remove the recipient from the email base. This shows your intention to keep your base clean and avoids negative action by the ISP. Unfortunately, not all webmail providers support FBLs," says du Plessis

What else you should be doing to manage your Sender Reputation?

This is a large topic and one that is frequently written about. In short, your email administrator or ESP must ensure that their sending process, at least, is set up correctly with reverse DNS records, SPF records for smaller ISPs and companies using their own mail infrastructure and DKIM (which is preferred by gmail, yahoo and hotmail).

Review the delivery results of your base regularly and remove 'undeliverable' recipients after each send. All your hard work in setting up and managing your reputation means nothing if you don’t clean your base.

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Tamara Hanley
Striata 1
+44 207 268 3941
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Alison Treadaway
+27 11 530 9600
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