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Emerging Trends in Email Deliverability and How to Stay Ahead – An Interview with Al Iverson

By MailChannels | 59 minute read

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In this episode, we sit down with Al Iverson, an expert in email deliverability, to explore the intricate world of email communication and marketing. Al shares his rich journey through the evolution of email, from early spam-fighting days to today’s challenges posed by major service providers and the advent of generative AI. We delve into the significance of email security, the impact of changing regulations, and the future of email marketing.

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[00:00:00] Al: There’s a lot of, uh, argument or disagreement among all of us nerds over what DAC is really meant to do. You know, because they say authentication. Anybody can authenticate a, a bad guy can authenticate, right? A bad guy could set up de Im, he could publish a DAC record. You know, that alone is not gonna be enough to prove that that’s a, a good guy versus a bad guy.

[00:00:17] Al: But all of these things, DAR and de in particular, does one thing well, and that’s connects a message to a domain and you can apply a reputation to that domain. And at that domain is being seen doing bad things, whether that be spearfishing, spamming or whatever. You have the opportunity to identify to fingerprint and block based on that.

[00:00:48] Ken: Hi Al. Um, it’s great to have you on the podcast today. Uh, I’m looking forward to having a conversation with you about the life of Al Iverson, uh, and spam resource, one of the best blogs on email deliverability on the planet. Um, so I wanted to start by asking you about Al Iversson. What was your journey that got you into the world of email deliverability, uh, and ultimately what led you to create your blog?

[00:01:18] Ken: That is read by so many people who have to deliver email for a living. 

[00:01:22] Al: Uh, thanks Ken. Thanks for having me here. I appreciate it. Um, yeah, how did I get started? Um, I’ve been really lucky, um, and my success certainly has been significantly a product of that luck of being in the right place at the right time and somebody giving me a chance to try something.

[00:01:39] Al: This is my fourth or fifth career, to be honest, you know, from, from some, uh, you know, some sort of glamorous thing. So sort of. Some less glamorous things working my way up from, you know, working in restaurants to, uh, uh, being a type setter, doing, uh, you know, working for a forms company, working my way up into doing graphics work, design and retouching and, um, uh, pre-press print preparation work for advertising in the mid to late nineties.

[00:02:11] Al: Um, so, uh, that was my first sort of success with, uh, a career was, was doing a lot of press work for. Um, print ads for Adver advertisers you absolutely would’ve heard of. And then at that same time, that company was just getting on the internet. Um, and I helped them set up their first internet server. And so we set up the first email service to have it go along with our service bureau services and, uh, it started to get spam.

[00:02:36] Al: And so, um, this is 1997 probably, and they needed help figuring out what to do about that. And, and it was very much a wild west at the time. If you were starting to get spam. It was some pretty gross and disgusting stuff. There was, there was stuff I, I don’t necessarily even want to joke about on a recording in my own voice that’ll come back to haunt me later.

[00:02:57] Al: Um, so we’re building filters to block this stuff and I started to share those filters with other people. Turned that into another job working for the male Abuse prevention System, the company that created the first block list, the real time black hole list. Um, and, uh, realized that that was no fun because you just, um.

[00:03:14] Al: Are getting yelled at by all sides, the marketers are mad that you’re trying to interfere in their business. And the other people who are getting spam are mad that you’re not blocking spam fast enough for their, for them. So it felt like, um, there’s really no way to please anybody there. And so figured out, well, what could I do with this knowledge and actually turn that into something.

[00:03:31] Al: And that led me to going to an e-commerce provider in Minnesota where I was living at the time. Um, they, they did, uh, they had a little mini email platform based on listserv and some stuff built on top of that where they were doing email marketing. They had run afoul of maps and a few other, uh, block list issues and were, were trying to figure out the right way to handle those kind of issues.

[00:03:50] Al: And so they sort of hand, uh, hired me to be an internal spam policeman. So, um, that was, uh, in October of 2000, that was before anybody had coined the term deliverability. My first title there was Consumer Privacy Manager. Um, and my goal was to guide our, uh, the soft, primarily software companies that used.

[00:04:12] Al: Uh, the e-commerce provider to sell downloadable software to remarket to their customers and be able to sell upgrades and more stuff to those customers. And so, um, I ended up managing a, a marketing operations team that was doing, uh, a, a little bit of everything. ’cause at that point, deliverability at that company anyway, it wasn’t enough to be a full-time job.

[00:04:31] Al: So there’s a little bit of dealing with your a OL whitelisting and complaints and that sort of stuff back in the early aughts. Um, but also, you know, just doing other random marketing stuff from, uh. Facilitating paid search and, and helping third party tracking, conversion tracking, that sort of stuff. Uh, but then the, the, the email stuff just set sort of kept growing and growing and I sort of turned that into a career.

[00:04:52] Al: And I’ve been doing sort of deliverability related stuff ever since then. 

[00:04:57] Ken: That, you know, when you were talking about your work, uh, for maps, you know, I was thinking, oh, that, that must have been in the early aughts, but No, that was in the 1990s, so you were. Yeah, you were like dealing with spam before spam was a thing for most people.

[00:05:12] Al: Yeah, I think, you know, I, I actually sent my first marketing email too in, in 1998, in, in late 1998 when I, uh, helped my friend set up a website for his jazz club. And, uh, we were just trying to figure out what are other ways we could sort of, uh, market to people. And with my, with my sort of spam fighting background, we set up, you know, double opt-in email capture, and.

[00:05:32] Al: Uh, set up the little website, started pushing people to the website with the goal of what, what can we do with this? And, uh, you know, we built it to more than 5,000 subscribers and it ended up repay, replacing the paper mailing list, save the club a bunch of money. And, uh, it was fun because, um, the way that we weren’t really sure how to measure the reach, um, unintentionally figured out how, by all I had to do was typo something in a way that would impact the cover charge for tonight at the club.

[00:05:59] Al: Um, and then so if I got it wrong and it was off by, you know, five or $10 and cheaper in the email, people would print out the email or bring it with and say, but the email says, so that was our proof that, uh, that email was actually working 

[00:06:12] Ken: an accidental, uh, investment into market research. Um, so, you know, a long time ago.

[00:06:20] Ken: Uh, when we both got into the world of email mailboxes were scattered across a really wide array of receiver platforms. I mean, a lot of companies, if not most companies, ran their own mail server. Universities ran their own mail servers and, and running a mail server was a thing. So in, in deliverability, uh, if you were having trouble reaching the inbox, it was a different thing per.

[00:06:45] Ken: Domain really like, you know, because there was such a disparate way that email was being handled Today, it’s, it’s totally different. Microsoft and Google are really the dominant email receivers, and it’s where the vast majority of inboxes are. How has the concentration of email receivers changed the world of deliverability, uh, during your career?

[00:07:07] Al: So specifically for B2C, that’s, that’s really where the most concentration has taken place. Where? With, with top, uh, you know, top eight providers is 95% of the reach of a US B2C email list. Anything you’ve got, like you said, you’ve got, you know. What, what, what we call Maggie, Microsoft. Now Apple used to be a OL, Microsoft Apple, Gmail, Yahoo, you know, maybe Comcast, maybe a couple more.

[00:07:33] Al: But then you get below that and everybody’s below 1%, way below 1% of a, of a common list and, and probably skewing older ’cause it, it’s newer people or you know, are signing up for Gmail. Yahoo’s actually growing niche services like proton mail, stuff like that. Um, so, uh, from, uh, there’s a lot of complaining about that.

[00:07:52] Al: A lot of people are going, oh my God, Gmail controls the world. Um, and I, I, I, I think people should take it with a grain of salt, um, because it’s not actually hard to deliver mail to Gmail. Uh, what it is easy to do is it’s easy to configure things wrong sometimes, and it’s tough to keep up. With evolution, with the evolution of security requirements, system requirements, and, um, that’s not that unique to just email, right?

[00:08:19] Al: E everything on the internet is a lot more complicated now than it was 25 years ago. And, and you can’t just stand up a server and, and not have a firewall like you might’ve done and turned on Telnet like you might have done in the late nineties and have everything be fine. Um, the same thing’s true with email.

[00:08:34] Al: It’s, it’s very easy to, to set up an email server and be able to send an email. You know, I just, just to kind of prove that I could do it, you know, uh, uh, not earlier this year, number of months ago, I, I set up, you know, a mail in a box, which is, you know, um, web mail, postfix, do cloud, a bunch of other stuff.

[00:08:51] Al: Um, that I ran it in Google Cloud, uh, Google Cloud blocks Port 25. And so I relay it out through, um, another VPSI have at a different server service where it’s not blocked and it’s still not that hard. Just build up the reputation and make sure everything’s authenticated and don’t send. Weird stuff. Um, and thankfully there’s a bunch of people who just love to jump up and down and yell and scream and stick their fingers in their ears and say, I, Gmail can’t tell me what to do.

[00:09:18] Al: Google. Google and Microsoft can’t tell me what to do. I’m not gonna, you know, kowtow to bow down to them. And so they don’t get their mail delivered. And in a lot of cases, a lot of the loudest people online blogging, otherwise complaining about the, the concentration of of, of male providers. Uh, are are just people who have not, uh, have for whatever reason.

[00:09:38] Al: In some cases they don’t wanna keep up with best practices or whatever. Um, but I, it’s, it’s possible, it’s doable. Now, B2B is a lot more fun in a different way, right? Because yeah, there’s still that concentration, but there’s still, it’s a bigger, bigger, bigger world. You look at you guys, for example, I can, I can take the top 10 million domains.

[00:09:55] Al: There’s a bunch of places that’ll rank ’em sort of by, um. Traffic or, you know, web traffic, for example, take that and, and just add the MX record to all those domains and do a GRE and account through there to see how many of those are hosted by mail channels or somebody else. And you can see that there are a ton of B2B providers.

[00:10:12] Al: A lot of ’em will host, you know, a, you know, 25,000 plus domains, 25 to 35,000 plus domains in that top 10 million. So that’s still a lot of providers. That’s, that’s, it’s still smaller than the old days when everybody set up their own. Postfix or exchange or send mail install. Um, but there’s still, there’s still a lot of, uh, different places you have to deal with out there.

[00:10:35] Al: So for me, you know, it, it, it hasn’t changed that much. Um, it, it, it’s always a case of continuing to evolve and for Gmail being the top sort of provider, uh, on by, by percentage of list on either B2C or B2B i, I am, I’m mostly happy with it because I’m a, I’m a content user and I’m a content consultant in that.

[00:10:56] Al: Um, I don’t find their requirements are too arduous and occasionally they have glitches and things go silly, and I certainly wish they were, uh, they talk to people a little more openly, uh, but for the most part they’re doing things that I love to see. Like the, the new upcoming send requirements for 2024.

[00:11:12] Al: Um, those are fantastic. Those are, those are closing loopholes. Those are sort of codifying best practices into actual written guidance written rules. And I, and I love that because it, it helps improve the email ecosystem. The, I I think the email ecosystem is still vibrant and there’s still, uh, it, it’s, it’s email’s not dead.

[00:11:30] Al: It’s not going anywhere. So I, I’m happy with it. Yeah. Let’s 

[00:11:34] Ken: actually go there. Um, so Google announced a little while ago this year. That in our early 2024, they were going to unleash a bunch of new requirements onto email senders. Uh, you know, such as making sure that your domain is using domain authentication techniques like DMAC, uh, they’re being pretty open about what the complaint rate needs to be.

[00:11:59] Ken: If you want to send more than 5,000 messages, uh, you know, to Gmail users, uh, talk about how or why is this a good thing for. Email generally. Uh, and, uh, what’s the sort of consequences of these changes that Google is bringing about in the new year? So, um, Gmail, um, 

[00:12:21] Al: it, it, it helps to understand the history of spam filtering at Gmail a little bit.

[00:12:24] Al: And for the longest time they took a little bit of a different path than a lot of other people. Uh, a lot of us, a lot of us old timers that have been around for a while, it was, you know, we did a lot of blocking. We did a lot of blocking based on I IP addresses a little bit based on domain. But, uh, a lot of what we did was all rejecting at the gateway.

[00:12:42] Al: Um, Gmail took a different path. Um, they, they were the least likely to block mail. Um, though they still, they still landed through checks. They still apply to algorithms. They still apply best practices. Um, but a lot of the times, if you violated those best practices or you were not authenticating properly or whatever.

[00:12:58] Al: You would still get delivered, you would just get delivered to the spam folder. So Gmail is very hesitant to outright reject mail for whatever reasons. I, you can only guess, you know, they would probably have issues to scale and pushing the, the address, uh, book to the Edge can be a big and scary thing sometimes.

[00:13:14] Al: Um, but at the end of the day, they didn’t block a lot of mail. They have slowly perhaps wised up to the fact that, that that is an exploitable thing. Um, I have heard tell. Occasionally run into spammers. In the old days, who would say, we’re so happy that we’re getting our mail through to Gmail. We don’t c care if it goes to this, this spam folder, because there are people dumb enough who go in there and dig it out and b, buy, you know, counterfeit products, which is crazy.

[00:13:42] Al: Um, and so Gmail has very slowly, uh, begun to block. They have, they have started to apply rules where, um, they weren’t doing it before. Now, you know, we, we’ve kind of hit a thing where they’ve added. A rule ev every so often, maybe, you know, a rule a month or a couple rules a month, where if, if you’re violating your FCS with extra headers, you’re not supposed to have, um, if you were a previously authenticating mail and then stopped.

[00:14:06] Al: Um, if your domain reputation is just so low that they, they think the mail’s gonna be unwanted if your IP reputation is just so low. All of these things now are reasons that they are starting to block mail, that they’re rejecting it. They’re not even letting it through the edge. Um. And so that I, I, that makes me so happy because what it does is it, it is a more active pushback for bad guys to know that they are not welcome in this environment and an active feedback to people who are meanwhile but are airing who need, need, need better feedback to know that what they’re doing is not working properly.

[00:14:43] Al: And from, so from my perspective, rejecting that mail is much more. Useful than silently spam through it. So I’m happy to see this and this, this, the, the changes are mostly, they’re, they’re, they’re evolutionary, not revolutionary. They’re, they’re incremental. It’s stuff that people have known as best practices for a long time.

[00:15:03] Al: You know, authentication, implemented. DMAC record, keep your complaint rates low. Um, that’s another one right there. Gmail has never blocked mail before because of a high complaint rate. Um, the, this is all quite new to them. They occasionally, the worst of the worst senders in the past couple of years would see blocks, but they were still relatively rare.

[00:15:22] Al: So it, it’s great to see all this stuff sort of gel. 

[00:15:24] Ken: So do you think that the, uh, the fact that Google, the dominant receiver. Uh, is, is starting to enforce essentially best sender practices, right? Uh, things like authentication, um, making sure that you deliver mail that people want so that your complaint rate is low.

[00:15:42] Ken: Uh, the fact that they’re now blocking on that basis, it’s going to lead to lower amounts of abuse because the bad guys aren’t gonna be able to get anything through. Uh, whereas people who are trying to do the right thing will have a better shot. It’ll kind of like pre-filter email traffic, make it easier to distinguish between what is good and what is bad.

[00:16:05] Ken: Sort of easier to be a good guy and harder to be a bad guy. Is it fair to say that. 

[00:16:10] Al: Absolutely. Um, and there will be people screaming about it. Um, but a lot of those are, are really the edge cases or it’s some something where there’s a, a simple fix and they’ll, there’s a say that we’ve never sent a piece of spam in our entire lives, but they might not even know that they have a sales department that’s buying lists and sending to them.

[00:16:28] Al: Right? So there’s, there’s there, there will be a few people around the edges saying otherwise, saying that it’s unfair, it’s unprecedented. Um. But even those, those, those cries are not in Eureka. But there’s a whole history there for those of those of us that have been around the block a couple of times.

[00:16:42] Al: The stuff like Dear was the website that, uh, the EFF and, and others put together when they, they said that AOL was unfairly blocking e email, unfairly blocking mail as spam and their best reference to block spam. It made a lot of noise, made a splash, but at the end of the day, people that wanted to be able to send email could.

[00:17:03] Ken: Right. So if, and perhaps these changes that are being made are going to make that even easier in a way. I’ve, you know, I’ve never been an email marketer. Uh, mail channels has always thought of, we’ve always thought of ourselves as working more on the security side to prevent bad stuff, uh, from going out the door.

[00:17:22] Ken: And to the extent that we run a large email delivery service. Our goal with that service is to try to fix the best practice problems of the senders who are sending through our platform, most of whom are very tiny, small businesses or individuals who have no idea about how to do things right. So we try to filter out for the, we, you know, for them, we try to give them a signal of, of what’s not gonna work, so that they can fix their practices and start getting mail delivered.

[00:17:51] Ken: I. I view these changes from Google as being very positive for what we do, because it’ll make it a whole lot easier for us to reject stuff, you know, before even trying to send it in the first place. Like if we know something is destined for Google and it doesn’t adhere to their standards, we can just block it at at our edge and, and it’ll never even be tried.

[00:18:11] Ken: So to, you know, to what extent do you see these changes actually having a beneficial impact on. Email sending services and, and allowing them to be more selective about their customers. 

[00:18:22] Al: Where Google leads, others are forced to follow whether they like it or not. I, I, for me, the parallel there is, is if you think about in the US California automotive, uh, standards for, for safety, for, uh, smog emissions and you know, for all of that kinda stuff.

[00:18:39] Al: Uh, California is big enough that on its own, you know, as a country it would be one of the biggest in, in the world still. So that’s a market that, that auto automobile manufacturers have to comply with. And the net there is the, in most of the most cases, they don’t want to make two different cars, one for California and one for outside of California.

[00:18:58] Al: So they make one car that complies with California, but also has a side effect of bringing those higher. Compliance limits, limits that California has to the rest of the United States. And I, I, to me, there’s a great parallel, parallel there with Gmail that nobody’s gonna want to have to think about, do I, how do I treat this message differently as a sender when it’s going to Gmail versus going to Microsoft or Yahoo, or Apple or anybody else, right?

[00:19:24] Al: If I follow all of the best practices and just make sure I comply with all of it, then it’s gonna go everywhere just fine. And I don’t have to. Discern at that one level, you have one level, one set of standards and not have to have a, an individual per domain standard. That, that, to me, that’s the real key there is, you know, G Gmail really is sort of leading, leading the industry in that positive way.

[00:19:45] Al: Yahoo is a big part of that too. I don’t wanna discount them. Marcel Becker will send me an angry email if he sees that I don’t mention, uh, Yahoo here. And it’s very important to them, right. To make it so that it, it’s not worth. The effort of if, if, if the big guys all require best practices, then only it leaves you little targets to send the bad stuff to, and at some point it’s a diminishing return

[00:20:10] Ken: So a lot of, uh, a lot of senders are really small. I mean, if I think about the senders who use mail channels, many of them don’t even know mail channels exists. They’re just using a hosting service. They’re using a WordPress plugin to send mail to a small mailing list, uh, or to send receipts out of an e-commerce system.

[00:20:28] Ken: Uh, they may have no idea what to, you know, how to comply with these new standards. Uh, what do you think are the ways in which senders are most likely to fall down? 

[00:20:45] Al: Uh, when these new standards roll out in early 2024? It, it is, uh, very easy for some small businesses to sort of fall through the cracks there.

[00:20:50] Al: Um, because, you know, even though we look at it as email industry people and say, oh, this is easy to implement. Somebody, like you say, who is just a, a sub customer of, you know, of a reseller that’s using mail channels. Or maybe they’re sending their bookstore newsletters through Constant Contact or MailChimp or ConvertKit or any one of those marketing platforms.

[00:21:11] Al: And the, the challenge there is how do you, how do you diffuse that knowledge out to all of those small businesses, many of whom their expertise, you know, is gonna be the, the focus of the business, not technology. Right. A book seller’s. Uh, expertise is in selling books, not implementing A-D-M-A-C record.

[00:21:28] Al: And so the, the challenge there for us and everybody involved is that the, any sending platform that touches that customer or sub customer has to be very proactive to try to, to share that knowledge and hopefully nudge that customer in the right direction. Some of these things the platform can do. Sort of, you know, transparently or sort of silently stuff like, you know, the, the easy unsubscribe and the list unsubscribe post requirements, those are really more ESP or CRM tool requirements.

[00:21:58] Al: Certainly nobody’s expecting a small business to have to implement that as a standalone on their own, you know, those plugins or commerce tools or, or links to SendGrid, you know, or whatever they’re doing. Um, those tools might. Need upgrading to support that, but nobody’s expecting somebody to build it themselves when they’re, they’re a small business.

[00:22:17] Al: And so, you know, that does leave a bit of a challenge there of, um, education. Education’s gonna be key and there’s still gonna be a few stubb toes. Uh, the first time those, those blocks drop in a place and. Uh, I, I, I hope people understand that that’s the nature of the evolution of security, right? You can, you can notify and notify and notify, but at some point you’ve actually got to start sanctioning stuff that doesn’t comply and.

[00:22:42] Al: Re that’s regardless of the reason why it doesn’t comply. And with the understanding also that the fixes for that sort of noncompliance are, are generally gonna be easy. Like if we, you know, if you go, why am, why is Gmail bouncing my mail? It’s because of a lack of a Dmar C record. You’re gonna have a very explicit error message that says you, this domain does not have dmar C implemented properly.

[00:23:02] Al: That that’s a guiding star right there. And you might have to work with your service provider to say, okay, where do I go from here? Some of them might recommend you just put in a very simple, you know, for example, DMAR P equals none text record. Yeah. Some might recommend that you go work with one of the Dmar consulting providers.

[00:23:19] Al: Some might have a tool to sort of do that in-house for you. A lot of ways to skin that, but it’s, people have gotta figure out how to notice it and hopefully people will learn it more from that upfront educa education and other people that don’t. They’ll, they’ll see it in the bounces. 

[00:23:34] Ken: So one thing you wrote about in your blog recently that also pertains to, to Google is that Google is starting, uh, in December, 2023 to retire old accounts, um, in a more significant way than they have in the past.

[00:23:50] Ken: And this is. Generating bounces, uh, how is that affecting email senders, all these new bounces from Google? 

[00:23:59] Al: So historically, going all the way back to the a OL days of the early aughts, the um, a high bounce rate was an indication that you were a bad sender. So if you had a higher bounce rate than everybody else.

[00:24:10] Al: And, uh, uh, a OL is stack ranking those results to look at the percentages and large amounts of mail being sent. Um, high bounce rate probably, uh, was on, put you on a path to deliverability death. But, um, nowadays it’s a little more subtle where, where most ISPs are not more specifically looking at, at, at number of bounces, for example.

[00:24:30] Al: But it can still matter and it’s still. An indicator that ties into some dashboards, including Google’s own Google Postmaster tools, Microsoft, SNDS, and, and other tools like that. They’re still looking at and calculating, um, attempts to send mail that are going nowhere. They’re being rejected because the other, uh, other end of the connection, there’s nobody there.

[00:24:51] Al: There’s the inbox is gone, the mailbox is gone. Um, so from that perspective, the, the, the important thing there, it’s not so much that you have to freak out and go, oh my God, I had an 8% bounce rate today where I only have 3% previously. That that’s okay, that’s expected. These changes are coming. There’s, there has to bounce sometime.

[00:25:10] Al: It’s never bounced before. Um, and but the, the, the, the, the magic, um, the, the, the magic solution really is just gonna be making sure you’re identifying them properly. Suppressing them and not mailing to them anymore. Um, some marketers have been sort of cheekily saying, well, what are you doing? Emailing somebody who hasn’t res responded in two years.

[00:25:31] Al: Um, and yeah, best practices, you would hope that they, they’re trying to get some sign of life out of subscribers. There’s this whole concept of a subscriber lifecycle management process where if, if somebody is showing, uh, no side of life and you’re sending to them as a marketer, at some point you might wanna drop them into a series of attempts to get their attention.

[00:25:49] Al: What marketers might call a winback campaign. Give it one or two or three attempts to get a click or some sort of side of life from them. And if not, they’re gone. Throw it out. There’s, there’s nobody home there. Um, but, um, with apple’s, um, male privacy protection coming unseen a couple years ago, um, uh, Apple’s MPP sort of changed the game with regard the, uh, to the ability to accurately.

[00:26:18] Al: Filter out unengaged nobody. Home subscribers. There’s a lot of false positive noise in open tracking. For example, it, it was already imperfect, but now it’s way imperfect and so you cannot really trust it on a per individual basis to denote whether or not somebody’s home. So even a good sender, uh, a good marketing center is gonna have.

[00:26:40] Al: A fair number of Gmail subscribers that are now gonna bounce that were, that not bouncing before, even if they’re all double opt-in and if they’re doing everything right, otherwise, or non-marketing centers. So people that run discussion groups. There’s, there’s, there’s still out there and there’s still a lot of ’em.

[00:26:57] Al: They send a lot of mail. Um, they don’t necessarily track engagement in that same way. And so mail’s gonna start to bounce now. That wasn’t bouncing before. So I, I look at it like, honestly, the reason that I blogged about it is because I wanted people to understand that it’s not something to freak out about.

[00:27:14] Al: It’s an expected course of doing business kind of thing. Addresses get retired. I. Other ISPs used to do it more often. Uh, do do it more often. Yahoo does it periodically. Microsoft probably does as well. Uh, but now that Gmail’s the biggest place and they’re doing this, it’s, it’s gonna have a noticeable impact.

[00:27:33] Al: But it’s expected and it shouldn’t be worried. You shouldn’t worry that it’s the end of the world. ’cause it’s not, 

[00:27:37] Ken: in a way, it’s actually helpful, right? Because at least you’re getting a definitive signal that you can act on to remove these addresses from your list. You know, they’re dead. If they bounced from Gmail with a 500, they’re, they’re gone.

[00:27:49] Ken: Exactly. Well, at least you think they’re gone. I mean, sometimes we know that, uh, even the largest providers, uh, make mistakes and send back five, 500 errors when it should have been a 400 or whatever. And like that does happen. You gotta be a little bit careful. But broadly speaking, uh, it sounds like it’s gonna be helpful actually.

[00:28:09] Al: Um, yeah. And in a lot of those cases too, if you really just let the provider. Deal with the bounce handling. Like, like you’re, if you’re, if you’re a marketing center and you’re using a MailChimp or Salesforce marketing Cloud or whatever, you know, those systems have methodology for tracking that and ways to reset that if something goes wrong.

[00:28:27] Al: And, and, uh, you know, some of those places, uh, like where I used to work, we had a, uh, a counter based bounce system. So it would have to 1, 1 5 xx bounce would not be enough to knock off the list, but a few of them would. So that, that gives a little bit of wi wiggle room because like you say, we’ve all been there where our good friend that at Yahoo will say, uh, we had an oops yesterday, so 

[00:28:49] Ken: since March of this year, maybe actually since November of 2022.

[00:28:55] Ken: Uh, AI has all of a sudden been in everyone’s life, and especially since the launch of GPT-4. I feel like it was a wow moment in the, in the history of technology and I have not been able to stop looking at the generative AI space since that time. Um, I now see personally a whole lot more cold prospecting type email coming into my inbox.

[00:29:20] Ken: I bet a lot of it is generated by. Uh, GBT and other generative AI language models. Uh, how do you see it taking a spot in the world of email marketing and email sending generally, what are some of the problems that will start to emerge because of generative ai? And how do you think marketers should think about this?

[00:29:41] Ken: How do you think receivers should think about this? What’s your, what’s your take on generative AI in, in the world of email? 

[00:29:48] Al: So, like you, unfortunately, my primary experience with it has been. Uh, by receiving many more cold lead emails than I had received in the past. And yeah, like you say, they tend to be, they tend to read as if they’ve been AI generated.

[00:30:01] Al: And I, to me it seems like a, a whole bunch of sloppy marketers just found a, a source for discount lunch meat, and they’re really just pushing it as fast and hard as they can. So you get this lower quality stuff coming out that they wouldn’t otherwise have sent before. So before it would’ve been none.

[00:30:15] Al: Now they’ve got access to this. Lower quality words that they weren’t putting out before. And so that’s what they’re sending. I think they haven’t realized success from that yet though. And I think there’s a whole bunch of people jumping on the AI bandwagon without them knowing or understanding or having any idea where that bandwagon is going.

[00:30:33] Al: Um, so I, I think we’re gonna see. What I hope is a temporary explosion of misuse of, you know, AI generated cold lead emails, for example. Uh, I don’t think they’re gonna drive that great, much more engagement than, than cold emails would before, because the, the, the craftiness of the message was never the only driver for engagement, was never the only reason that I would wanna read your email.

[00:31:02] Al: I, it, it’s about what you’re selling, what your brand is, what our connection is. Did I want this? Do I want this? And so AI does not substitute for any of that. And so, um, from, from that perspective, I, it is annoying, but a little bit harmless and I think people will realize that they’re sort of wasting money on doing it.

[00:31:22] Al: Um, and it ties back to the, um, the, the overall ongoing problems of cold lead emails where, um. People tell me if every, every week somebody tries to tell me how great cold leads are, and, and they have to do them. They, they need them to keep the, the business engine running that, that’s great. If they’re so fantastic, why are they all going to the spam folder right there?

[00:31:45] Al: The, the every ISP mechanism that’s designed to measure interactivity, whether or not a messages are wanted, whether or not messages that are interact with it’s failing. All those tests, those people, the messages are not wanted and. The robot rewriting the text to the body form certainly isn’t gonna fix that.

[00:32:02] Al: So from my perspective, it’s, it’s a little bit of same as it ever was. 

[00:32:06] Ken: Uh, yeah, I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot. In the summer. I used the, uh, a chat, G-P-T-A-P-I, uh, and the Gmail API, and I built a cold prospecting male detector. Uh, I trained it in context, uh, with some examples, and basically it just runs on a cr job on my Mac.

[00:32:28] Ken: Uh, every so often it downloads my inbox. It looks for messages from people I’ve never communicated with before, and it just basically asks the model, does this look like a cold prospect email? You know, and it’s, it’s shockingly good at spotting the cold prospecting messages, which it then applies a label to so that I can see them in my inbox.

[00:32:47] Ken: And then, uh, it greatly lessens the amount of effort that I have to put into filtering through my mail. Uh, because you know, a lot of these messages are not going to the spam folder. They are just crafty enough, just unique enough, uh, that they’re making it all the way through. And the accounts they’re coming from, I’m noticing are increasingly Gmail accounts or accounts.

[00:33:11] Ken: They’re not personal domains. And I just kind of wonder if you know these changes that Google and Yahoo are making. To, uh, you know, domain authentication to requiring a low complaint rate are gonna drive some of this gray area marketing activity over into the major free mail domains. Then it becomes an issue of them trying to police their own traffic in the outbound direction.

[00:33:37] Al: Uh, well first off, that’s awesome that it sounds really cool that you built an engine to be able to catch that and take, let’s take that to the nth degree. You know, Gmail is applying AI to try to make their spam filters better. Right. And so in that same way sure. It, the arms race is ongoing. Um, and that is definitely a challenge to your point about it’s trying to send cold prospecting mail from individual Gmail or Outlook addresses.

[00:34:04] Al: Or, you know, GG Suite or O 365, you know, they, what they’re, I, in either case, what they’re trying to do is leverage that domain or IP reputation of the broader Google or broader Microsoft platform. And that is a gap that has not been well addressed as of yet. Um, it, it one assumes that they’ll have to get better over time because if it grows in abuse.

[00:34:27] Al: Um, the level of, uh, annoyance is gonna grow and if people are gonna get so mad that every time they get an email from somebody at Gmail, it tends to be a cold lead spam, they’re, they’re not gonna accept emails from Gmail anymore. So there certainly is a, a class of, uh, boring little bad guys trying to exploit this middle, this, this little gray middle ground of, um, of, uh, I, I spun up a new account.

[00:34:51] Al: I just sent a few messages. It’s not enough for anybody to sort of fingerprint me yet. So I got through this time. The good thing is, is that eventually the algorithm catches up, but that’s where that gray area is, is, you know, how many messages can you get away with until it catches up with you. And I’m, I’m hopeful that it gets better, but yeah, that, that is an annoyance.

[00:35:09] Ken: Yeah, I’m, I’m also hopeful, I, you know, frankly, really hopeful that the changes being introduced by Google and Yahoo are going to make cold prospecting harder, uh, in my opinion. Uh. And, and I had these companies try to sell us services and we’ve never used them because they claim that there’s nothing illegal about this.

[00:35:32] Ken: There’s nothing wrong with it, you know, and I look at the legislation, I’m like, it is actually illegal in a lot of places. It’s illegal. You can’t just send someone a message, uh, because you found their email address somewhere and never asked, never had a business relationship with them. It’s literally against the law in Canada, uh, for example.

[00:35:51] Ken: And, and I just wonder like what is the longevity of these firms offering cold prospecting as a service? Nevermind AI based cold prospecting. You know, are we gonna see these companies sunset in the next year or two because of the changes in being introduced by Google and Yahoo that are tightening up sender requirements?

[00:36:09] Al: It it, funny, funny story. You know, you know, I can think back to, you know, 10, 15 years ago now where I ran into, um. Uh, another person works in email at a, at a bar here in Chicago, and, um, he’s working on a little email platform and, uh, struggling with spam and other issues. And then, then, you know, I run into him a few years later, he is moved on to a different company.

[00:36:31] Al: He’s doing some different thing, and then a few years later he is, he’s built a cold leads engine. He is using the Gmail API to be able to, you know. Try to trick as much mail through before domain reputation catches up with its customers. And he, and, and he, he actually posted, uh, it was on some social media that he got a sort of a snotty, cease and desist notice from, from Google.

[00:36:52] Al: Like, you’re misusing your API, this is not what it’s made for. Um, that and some of the other noise that I’ve heard from people at Google or around the edges of the ecosystem. Make it clear that Google doesn’t really want their tools to be used for this way, and just because you can exploit that loophole today doesn’t mean you have a long-term business ahead of you.

[00:37:10] Al: Like I said, this guy. You know, he is on business idea number five, and I, I would assume the first four didn’t go so well, or he wouldn’t have to keep iterating quite so broadly. But, um, I, I look at a lot of those where I, I’ve been doing email stuff for 25 years and this, this guy coming up to me, telling me, you know, cold leads are, are the most awesome thing in the world.

[00:37:31] Al: You know, he is been doing it for nine months, and what he is doing is trying to sell other people on, on him taking their money and shoveling some mail for him and then he’ll disappear. You’ll never hear from him again. So. It’s, it’s, I feel very confident that it’s not a long term strategy. And there’s also, let’s be clear, there’s cold leads and there’s cold leads, right?

[00:37:49] Al: Anything is on a spectrum. There’s, there’s, there’s good ways to do stuff and bad ways to do stuff. If somebody’s sending, like I had somebody try to defend it and tell me they’re sending 15 messages a month total. Dude, you are not the cold leads problem. Like send us go nuts with your one-to-one emails.

[00:38:05] Al: I’m not, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not looking at the legality of, of what you’re doing, but it’s certainly not an ecosystem level problem. 

[00:38:12] Ken: Yeah, not at that volume. No. I, I think the, uh, issue arises when you’re sending, you know, literally thousands of cold messages per day that you’ve. Crafted with information from ZoomInfo and maybe stuff you bought on the dark web.

[00:38:27] Ken: You know, I mean, there’s some shady tactics available out there if you wanna exploit them. Uh, you know, in, in the generative AI space, one area that we’ve been looking at a lot at mail channels is the impact of generative AI on phishing. Uh, we’re already starting to see phishing attacks that are definitely customized through generative ai.

[00:38:47] Ken: Uh, so rather than just sending out a template. It’s more Nigerian and scammer, uh, type of messages, but they’re clearly being written by ai. Um, and you sort of wonder how long it’s gonna be before the really bad guys, uh, start using generative AI language models, image generation models, et cetera, to, uh, start, uh, attacking recipients with phishing sophisticated spear phishing campaigns.

[00:39:16] Ken: Uh, and I wondered if I, you know, maybe straying from what you’re. Currently focus on in the deliverability side, but if you have any opinions about what’s going to be coming down the pipe for security with generative ai, I, I think, 

[00:39:29] Al: um, the key there, um, I think stuff like DMAC is gonna be a big component of, uh, of trying to, uh, apply best practices to the, to, to mitigate the risk of business email compromise in that context, when you think about, um, what DMAC is meant to do and, and a lot of the.

[00:39:47] Al: Uh, there, there’s a lot of, uh, argument or disagreement, uh, among, among all of us nerds over what Dmar C is really meant to do, um, and what it, you know, because they say, um, AAU authentication, anybody can authenticate a, a bad guy can authenticate, right? A bad guy could set up De Kim. He could publish a Dmar record.

[00:40:03] Al: You know, that alone is not gonna be enough to prove that that’s a, a good guy versus a bad guy. But all of these things, DM a r and de I in particular, uh, they de Im is does one thing well, and that’s connects a message to a domain and you can apply a reputation to that domain. And if that domain is being seen doing bad things, whether that be spear phishing, spamming or whatever, you have the opportunity to identify to fingerprint and block based on that.

[00:40:29] Al: And what you’re doing is you sort of increase that barrier to entry, right? Because if you wanna cycle through domains, you’ve gotta purchase them. Uh, if somebody’s going through a low cost TLD and, and buying them by the sack full, um, eventually they’re gonna run through those or that TLD will have a, a poor reputation as we have seen sometimes.

[00:40:45] Al: Um, and so you put all of that together that you, you have to sort of raise the barrier of entry, not, not not to the ceiling, but you’ve gotta raise it just a little bit so that it, um, if, if the effort, the cost there is really gonna take you so that you’re gonna have to spin through domains so you don’t have to spin through reputational problems.

[00:41:02] Al: To, you know, sensor domains to get away from reputational problems that you, you’re not gonna have a successful model enough to be able to get to the. The success, doing the bad stuff you wanna do it. It’s really a case of all of these things that’ll catch up with them and, and catch up eventually. I think, um, you know, I, I dunno about down, uh, where you are, but here in Chicago we have a problem with catalytic converter theft and out, and there was just a thing.

[00:41:26] Al: Uh, people talk about all this, you can’t do anything about it. Nothing’s, you know, the cops don’t do anything. It’s happening nonstop. There’s one on this block and it’s sort of the next block. Well, you know, the guy I just saw on the news yesterday or the last week actually, where. A, a guy out in one of the suburbs, uh, you know, the cops went into his garage and he’s got 300 catalytic converters in his garage.

[00:41:46] Al: And so he’s gonna jail probably for a long time, and I’m sure he thought things were going great right up until number 299. Right. Eventually that stuff catches up with him eventually. Not as fast as we would want, but it, it, it, it will happen. And so I think the, the same I thought process didn’t get weird on that is, you know, the same thought process is you, you, you make it harder.

[00:42:06] Al: It’s for, for guys to be able to do that. And yeah, they’ll still do it to some degree, but when, when it catches up to them, it catches up to them in a bad way that that’ll hopefully stop it from happening again, or at least make it very hard to repeat. 

[00:42:18] Ken: Well, I I, I certainly hope that your point of view comes to pass for the bad guys.

[00:42:22] Ken: Uh, one thing I worry about a lot is, uh, is bad guys going multimodal, uh, you know, so it, it used to be that phishing attacks were mostly. And maybe they still are mostly template based mass emails, you know, pouring out of compromised web hosting servers. Uh, and there’s not a lot of thought put into it.

[00:42:44] Ken: It’s just pump the templates out, you know, a small fraction that people are gonna reply. What we’re seeing in the last couple of years is a shift towards, uh, sending attacks out. Also through SMS. So there’ll be an SMS message from Netflix telling you that you’ve gotta update your credit card information or from your bank, you know, very common kind of SMS attack.

[00:43:05] Ken: I. They, uh, seem to be able to create new domains weekly, uh, create very high quality mobile phishing sites. They put up, uh, barriers to automated detection by forcing the user to fill in a capcha, which is, hey, it’s something that you have to do with your regular bank, so why wouldn’t it be a legitimate thing to do with a phishing site as well?

[00:43:27] Ken: Um, but you know, I wonder how. AI is going to enable the bad guys to run these campaigns over multiple channels. Email being one of them, but also text and even voice. If you, you think about some of the more recent voice capabilities that are in these, uh, you know, these language models. I, I really see that as being a major challenge for the industry, uh, that we don’t really have great tools to face off against.

[00:43:52] Al: Yeah, especially on the SMS front, right? Because, um, um, uh, short codes are so opaque, so opaque to the end user. Like when you, when you legitimately use SMS based two factor from, from 10 different companies, you get codes from 20 different short codes. Like how do you, how do you tie a reputation to that as a savvy?

[00:44:11] Al: End user. You, you, you can’t. So how do the providers do it there?

[00:44:13] Ken: Yeah. Yeah. Like just what? You have no way of, uh, authenticating the sender. Right. The, there’s not like an icon that pops up on your iPhone saying, this is definitely UPS, you know? Yeah. And 

[00:44:25] Al: for me it’s always like, what are the identifiers outside of the content?

[00:44:28] Al: Like what, what’s the meta, what are the meta tags? So they’re associated with that content. And anything that you can identify there reliably, you can attach a reputation to, and hopefully track and figure out what’s good and what’s bad. But there’s so many gaps in, in SMS and voice calling. You know, it’s so easy to spoof color ID that, you know, that that shaken or stir thing was supposed to shut that down.

[00:44:48] Al: And it doesn’t really, I mean, they sort of say people sort of comply and every once in a while, some, you know, uh, some VoIP provider gets spanked for doing something silly. But it, it, it’s not enough. I mean, there’s still too much of that going on that,  that, and you know, like you say, smishing, man, if I, if, if I was a bad guy and I was, that’s how I was gonna rob people, I think smishing would, would be the way to do it.

[00:45:08] Al: Because like you say. Um, it, it’s, it, it, it’s, it’s connect better with people and you can get away with more opaque identifiers, for example, 

[00:45:18] Ken: and I know that you and I both know really good people who work at Apple, uh, in the anti-abuse side. They will probably never come on my podcast because they’re just, it’s so secretive at Apple.

[00:45:29] Ken: But, uh, something emerged recently that is making me very worried. Uh, on the smishing front, and that is an open source project that lets you send iMessage messages, uh, from Python code. And you don’t even have to have an Apple device because Apple has this weak spot where, uh, to support older devices, uh, they can’t, these older devices cannot send a signed attestation that the message is coming from an actual Apple device with a unique serial number.

[00:46:03] Ken: So they have to leave open the possibility for older devices to talk to the network. And anyway, there’s Python code. You can go on GitHub and get, and you can send out iMessages that look just like every other iMessage. So I wonder if at some point we might see a blue check mark, you know, on iMessage to indicate that this came from a real Apple device versus not coming from an Apple device.

[00:46:27] Ken: I don’t know. Uh, but that, that seems to me like a major problem just waiting around the corner. 

[00:46:32] Al: Yeah, you gotta, I sort of wonder if, um, um, right there, I don’t, I don’t wanna necessarily wanna name names of, there’s an, there’s a famous Android app that promises you iMessage access that seems to, to do it.

[00:46:44] Al: That’s the one in a very sketch way. And, uh, it, you know, and that, that type of thing is, you know, it’s, it’s, it is scary and it’s definitely something that is yucky needs to be addressed. So, at least the, the, maybe the, uh, the good thing about the, the Apple ecosystem, right? Is it. Um, they tend to, um, have broad adoption of updates in a way that Android devices never do.

[00:47:08] Al: So if they’re, if it’s possible to fix something in software, certainly seems to be a greater chance that it’ll be pushed to more Apple devices than Android devices. But, you know, is that a perfect solution? No, but I think it’s, at least it’s, it could be worse. Yeah. 

[00:47:22] Ken: I think this, I think this comes right back to the concept of multimodality, right?

[00:47:26] Ken: Uh, when you have. You know, AI agents that honestly, you can run locally now. I mean the, the language models are getting so good. You can run them on a modern graphics card with a enough memory. Uh, so the bad guys just have to rent some machines that have graphics cards on them. They can run these models locally.

[00:47:46] Ken: Nobody can ever see what they’re doing. The bottles don’t have to be aligned, right? I mean, it’s just kind of chaos around the corner. Um, I’m certainly on the lookout for what’s next in, in solving those problems. Uh, [00:48:00] yeah. Anyways, um, you know, moving on. Uh, so we’ve talked about Google and Yahoo’s new requirements.

[00:48:07] Ken: Uh, you’ve talked about DACA fair bit. There’s a new version of DAC coming out, um, at some point in the near future. Uh, D-A-R-C-B-I-S is is the name that’s floating around on mailing lists. I wondered if you could comment on any of the improvements in DARC that are coming down the pipe. That 

[00:48:23] Al: is a little bit of a gap in my knowledge, um, that I have some theories and sus some suspicions that I probably, I, I will sound stupid if I talk about ’em just yet, unfortunately.

[00:48:34] Al: Uh, that’s fine. So that might be one of those things that we might wanna skip over. Unfortunately, if it was a couple months later, you know, I know we talked a lot, uh. What’s, what’s the way to frame a good answer there? I’m pause for a sec. There’s been a lot of talk about what are the potential pitfalls or limitations of DMAC.

[00:48:51] Al: Um, if you look at, for example, uh, what can, it doesn’t do anything about, like deam replay attacks. How do you do something where you, right. What can you do to rev authentication in a way that’s gonna help make email more secure? Than it is now. We’ve also got issues where SPF, where a number of providers do extremely broad includes, um, that are relatively easy to exploit.

[00:49:10] Al: If you get on the, you know, the same platform of ’em. I, you know, we’ve talked about stuff like this before. I know you’re aware of challenges around all of that. Um, so I’d hopeful that there are gonna be an evolution. There is gonna be an evolution of the specs that make it easier to apply some of this stuff.

[00:49:27] Al: What is most interesting to me, for example, is. What is the right way to police and potentially prevent or mitigate dec Im replay attacks. I think that that, that is a, a new exploitable frontier that that’s significantly problematic and is something we never thought of. When we talked about what we were gonna do with Dec Kim back in the day.

[00:49:48] Al: We just never conceived to the fact that if we divorce the authentication from the sending platform from the sending machine. That anybody could take a message and resend it and what’s the side effect of that? And somebody could put their content in a good message, send it through a Gmail or Yahoo, or some web mail provider or hack into an account on some ESP or CRM platform, send one message out and then use a botnet to relay, replay that message, you know, 3 million times.

[00:50:15] Al: Um, it’s gonna annoy people. It’s gonna damage reputation. It’s gonna be tremendously difficult to catch because when you’re looking at this stuff now in, in, for example, A-D-M-A-C dashboard, suddenly you see. Traffic that says it’s you and it’s passing authentication, but doesn’t seem to be coming from your infrastructure at all.

[00:50:33] Al: Very, very confusing and bad. So for me, that’s the focus on what, where I think the specifications around for Z, you know, SPFD, IM a dmar, need to go. Uh, beyond that, I haven’t really delved deeper into what other people think are good ideas. And that’s always the challenge because, yeah, there’s a reason I haven’t done that.

[00:50:51] Al: It’s because people wanna argue endlessly about how. DK was not made to do this. DAC was not meant to the do this. Well, stuff evolves 

[00:50:59] Ken: and it has to evolve. What I pay attention to is whenever the people from Google talk about DARC on the mailing list, that’s like, okay, they are speaking in an official capacity about Google’s perspective on DAC and what the new standards should have in it.

[00:51:15] Ken: One of the things that Google has said on the DAC mailing list is that they would like to see. The ability to allow domain owners to, uh, specify their preferences around whether SPF will be used to authenticate their domain. Uh, you know, so a, a common problem that you’ve identified is that if you use a large email sending service and you authorize that service through an SPF, include.

[00:51:43] Ken: You’re giving a lot of people the, uh, opportunity to send mail from your domain and you’re trusting that platform to somehow police the use of your domain. Not all platforms do that well, and some don’t do it for good reasons, because they can’t, uh, you know, so in that situation, if DM a C had a way to specify, look, I.

[00:52:05] Ken: I want you to use D Kimm for my domain, but if I have an SPF record, don’t treat that as significantly. You know, just passing SPF might not mean you should trust this message from my domain. Um, you don’t wanna get rid of SPF because as you said, it’s useful to be able to identify the infrastructure that your messages are coming from.

[00:52:25] Ken: Uh, you want to be able to tell the internet, this is generally my infrastructure. If you get stuff from somewhere else, you should definitely reject it, right? You wanna be able to say that, but at the same time, you don’t want it to sort of have the same significance as a, uh, cryptographic signature that, you know, came from your infrastructure.

[00:52:44] Al: That’s really where we need to go. Uh, and to your point, even if you trust the platform. Um, anybody, security savvy would much rather be able to set, uh, a, the what their preferred security requirements on their own domain, at their level. Then you don’t have to worry about, um, what the, the, the platform does.

[00:53:03] Al: We went through this when I worked for a rather large ESP with many thousands of customers, and the SPF includes just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and you worry about the potential loopholes, even if you mean to do everything right at that platform level to. Prevent, uh, you know, customer one from impersonating, customer two.

[00:53:21] Al: Um, it is, it is a complex problem and anything that provides more tools to better secure that sort of cross abuse or to, to prevent it wholly and, and bring that security control to the domain owner I, that, that is a fantastic thing that needs to happen. 

[00:53:41] Ken: Absolutely. So, uh, we’re coming to the end of our time together.  Um. Uh, on the podcast today, I, I wanted to ask you towards the end of our conversation, you know, what is your view about the future of email? You know, what do you see coming in the next five years? What, what makes you excited, you know, beyond Google and Yahoo’s announcement about 2024, but what do you see coming in the next five years that makes you excited that email will continue to be a relevant medium for sending out, uh, marketing and other information to people on the internet?

[00:54:12] Al: Um, I, you know, there are little things like, um, you know, Gmail annotations and ways to sort of improve the, what you can do inside of email messages that are think, uh, that are kind of cool and, and kind of neat things for the future. I think, um, whether or not, um, email is going to be something, have something new and big and exciting coming over the hill, I’m not sure, but I, I am pretty confident that it is so well loved and so.

[00:54:40] Al: Widely and broadly used, um, that it’s going to continue to be a big deal. It’s, it’s growing. It’s not shrinking. People keep saying, um, email is dead. Email is not dead. Even people keep saying, email marketing is dead. Email marketing is not dead and is not going anywhere. The use cases have shifted a little.

[00:54:59] Al: Right. You, you talked about, we talked before about. Omnichannel marketing versus just straight email marketing, right? There’s a lot of room for different ways to be able to contact people, whether that be push notifications, SMS or you know, other ways to interact via apps or, or what have you. And so while some, while some of that gets functionality is sort of peeled away from email and handed off to those other bits, those, those other ways of, of communicating, there’s still gonna be that core there.

[00:55:26] Al: There’s still gonna be that connection to, um, the person on the other end there both for. One-to-one communication and the right kind of, you know, bulk communication, whether it be email marketing, whether it be password resets, you know, registration codes. Another, another form of two factors. Certainly it’s not the only one, not the best one out there, but you need to have multiple methods of identification.

[00:55:48] Al: And so I still think there’s, there’s gonna be all this stuff that email is good for. I, you know, what other all saying, all dancing thing, is it gonna do that? I haven’t thought of yet. I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. 

[00:56:01] Ken: I think I feel the same way. You know, when, whenever someone predicts the death of email, you know, for whatever reason, oh, Twitter’s gonna kill email, you know, oh, uh, fe the fedi verse is gonna kill email.

[00:56:13] Ken: Whatever texting is gonna kill email. Um, I ask them. What will replace that universal identifier that goes onto your business card that you use to log into websites? How, how do you replace that thing that that address, that lets anyone in the world get in touch with you? So if it’s not gonna be emailed, then what is it?

[00:56:34] Ken: What is, as the universal is email, if you wanna replace it, uh, you’ve gotta make everybody use it, which seems like an absolutely impossible task. And, and although email has its faults. It is truly the only fully open way that you can reach someone on the internet. It continues to be that I, I don’t see anything changing that in the coming years.

[00:56:54] Al: Yeah, nobody owns email and that’s an important thing that it is a cross platform. Cross company communication method in ways that other platforms aren’t. Right? If you, if, uh, if you have an iPhone and you, you have iMessage and you have, all your friends are on iMessage, you can communicate with all them.

[00:57:08] Al: But if you want to cross over that divide and, and talk to Android users, we all know what a, a pain in the butt that is. Right? Apple finally said they’re. They’re gonna bring RCS support to iPhone sometime in, in the future. But you look at, like, I, it was, it was weird the last two years I worked for a company that was very Slack heavy.

[00:57:26] Al: Um, so almost all of their communication was done via Slack. And that’s, that’s, the company was sort of born into that. It was a very small startup that got sold into a bigger company. Um, but, uh, so people talk like, well, that’s the future. Slack is gonna replace email. And it didn’t, and it didn’t, uh, it wasn’t able to do so perfectly by any means because you, you, you lose some of the ability to, to find history, to search, to organize in ways that, for example, that I could do in Gmail, that I can’t do in Slack, right?

[00:57:54] Al: They all have, they both have search functions, they both have threading, uh, but in different ways. And the ability to export, link, communicate, um, you know, is so much different between those two tools that. That for people that just say email’s dead, you know the whole company’s just on Slack. Anybody above a certain, it’s kinda like kids, right?

[00:58:13] Al: Where they’d say, well, I only SMSI don’t, I don’t use email anymore. Well, you’re, you’re not in the right business environment for, for it. Maybe you don’t need to be. But for everybody else, the rest of us that are actually communicating on how to get stuff done it, that is done at the business level via email.

[00:58:27] Al: It’s funny ’cause the second I left that company, it was laid off last month and I. Still a little peeved about that, but, uh, what did I do to engage all these people that I’ve been talking to since to find my next opportunity, you know, to find job leads, to, to coordinate interviews that is all coordinated via email.

[00:58:45] Al: That’s how I got my job. That’s how, that’s how I got my next job that I’m starting. January is via email. That’s email, that’s, that’s a success story for me for email 

[00:58:54] Ken: right there. Well, congratulations on finding your new job. I, uh, we’re all looking forward to finding out what it is. Uh, and uh, it’s been such a pleasure talking to you, Al.

[00:59:04] Ken: I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Uh, and uh, I wish you all the best. Thank you very much. Thanks, Kim. 

[00:59:10] Al: Take care. Great to talk to you.

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