A Marketer's Field Guide to Mail.ru

The Russian web-mail service, Mail.ru was launched in 1998. With more than 100 million active email accounts and 400 million total mailboxes, Mail.ru is the largest web-mail provider in Russia and on the European continent. The Postmaster and Anti-Abuse Team at Mail.ru are highly engaged with the public and have created an informative Postmaster page to help Senders understand what it takes to get their mail delivered.

If you’re an Email Marketer here are some key-aspects of this Mailbox Provider to help you get to know them better:

Spam Filter Technology: Mail.ru has built the majority of their spam filter technology in-house and created their own proprietary Bayesian-heuristics filters. Having a good IP and domain reputation is imperative if you want to be delivered but they also put a heavy emphasis on content.

Reputation: You can track your reputation by signing-up here. Since Mail.ru doesn’t use third-party reputation-based spam filters, your reputation at Mail.ru is an aggregate score derived from subsidiary data provided from data partners, engagement metrics and complaint rates (a complaint is generated when the email user clicks “This is Spam” in the UI). Mail.ru has set the following thresholds for complaint rates based on your monthly volume:

Messages per Month Complaint Rate Limit
up to 10,000 1.4%
up to 500,000 1.3%
up to 10,000,000 1.1%
up to 50,000,000 0.7%
over 50,000,000 0.4%


Prioritized Delivery: Mail.ru uses the Return Path whitelist. To quote our recent press release regarding the Russian certification program, “For email marketers whose data management standards and sending reputations qualify for Return Path Certification and inclusion on Return Path’s whitelist of trusted senders, the program’s availability in Russia improves their ability to deliver messages to Russian subscribers’ inboxes, keeping them connected to their customers and maximizing email campaign revenue.”

Feedback Loops:  The team has created an additional FBL service that provides senders with data on their performance. By signing-up, a sender will learn how much of their mail has been delivered, how much was bulked, how many complaints their mails generated and more. Additionally, Mail.ru has partnered with us, to create a Return Path hosted FBL. We’ll make an announcement here on the blog when the new feedback loop becomes public.

List Acquisition & Sign-Up: Failure to use double opt-in is one of the top reasons this mailbox provider blocks senders! The Mail.ru Abuse Desk advises: “Your sign-up form should leave the ‘I would like to receive newsletters and/or email offers’ box unchecked. Our spam analytics engine considers this as a factor when judging the quality of your mailings.” Additionally, confirmation mails should not contain advertisements. Mail.ru considers confirmation mails to be purely functional in nature and not an opportunity to market products or services.

Reminders about incomplete registrations should not be sent for longer than a 3 month period after the initial registration and the total of “reminder” mails should not exceed two.

Unsubscribe: Mail.ru considers this one of the most important aspects of emailing best practices. The Mail.ru Abuse Desk told me, “The user should be able to unsubscribe with one-click without authorization. The process should be as simple as possible. It must not require passwords, or the filling-out of forms. The entire unsubscribe process should not be more than 1 step. Suppression of the email address should be immediate and without any delays.”

Engagement: Mail.ru considers engagement to be a good indicator of the relevance of your messages. In fact, the Mail.ru Abuse Desk defines spam as a, “message that the user isn’t interested in or doesn’t want to receive”. They track how many of your messages were deleted without being opened. If your deletion-before-open rate is high, your reputation score will suffer. There is one exception to this rule: Mega-volume-senders like social media sites (i.e. Facebook and eBay) that send notifications. Most users will delete the notifications without reading them but still want to receive them.

Sending Infrastructure Requirements:

They recommend that all volume email Senders authenticate with DKIM and SPF. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is also operational at Mail.ru. Senders also must comply with all RFC standards relevant to email. Your DNS records should be valid and your WHO-IS record up-to-date. Incorrect configuration of MX and PTR ​​could cause your mails to be rejected at the gateway.

Watch this space for our next installment: A Marketer’s Field Guide to Yandex.


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