Had you been in the general vicinity of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago– say, Thursday evening, maybe just before an early dinner time – you might have heard thunderous applause spilling from the open entrance into the evening air. You might have thought an A-list celebrity had just been introduced on stage to the gathered membership of M3AAWG, as our 33rd General Meeting drew to a close.
Nope. This was a slightly bigger deal.
That evening, the M3AAWG Senders Committee announced the completion of the long-awaited, much-anticipated rewrite of the Senders' Best Common Practices. If you've already had a look at it, you might be faintly puzzled that a paper – and a pretty short one at that – might rate the kind of ovation usually reserved for actual people.
But the BCP is a special case. It has history.
The complete reboot of the BCP was a truly Herculean – and occasionally Sisyphean – effort spanning more than three years, dozens of conference calls and working sessions, and thousands of individual edits.
Any observer of the quantities of blood, sweat and tears that went into the drafting of the document might be surprised by the brevity of the final product. Every type of stakeholder that M3AAWG represents had a hand in building this document. All of us at M3AAWG are passionate about ending messaging abuse, but we don't always individually agree on the best ways to do that. Distilling the passion and achieving consensus across the broadest swath of our organization was a very tall order.
What you have in your hands today was truly a collaborative effort. It represents some of the very best kind of work M3AAWG can do when that consensus is achieved.
The document is a baseline and a reference. It describes what all senders of volume email – be they a marketer, a newsletter publisher, or an Email Service Provider – should be doing in order to ensure they are playing by the rules of the road.
The BCP is not a legal opinion. It's not a position paper. It's a prescriptive document that enunciates those rules and the reasons why they came to be what they are.
It is also most assuredly not a deliverability document. A sender can implement every best practice described in the BCP and still see deferrals and rejections. It is not a panacea for your current deliverability woes.
The real point of these best practices is to make it easier for recipient domains to distinguish your SMTP traffic from abusive traffic so they can sink the bad stuff and free up infrastructure to handle the good stuff quickly.
Deliverability is an organic result of correct implementation of best practices. The greater the distance a sender can create between the email they send and mail that is abusive in nature, the better results they will enjoy. When senders start operating by the rules of the road and follow best practices, deliverability starts to sort itself out.
All of us at M3AAWG – and the Senders' Committee in particular – are very pleased to present this document to the industry (see the M3AAWG news release). It is our fond hope that you and your organization will find it useful. Great thanks belong to the Senders' senior co-chair Tara Natanson of Constant Contact who kept rolling the boulder back up the hill every time it came back down. If you see her, give her some bacon.
Andrew Barrett is Director, Deliverability & ISP Relations at iContact, and serves as Co-Chair of the M3AAWG Senders Committee.