What Is Microsoft SNDS? A Quick Guide and Setup for Email Marketing

Microsoft SNDS
Josh M
Author: J. Michaels
Mateo B
Reviewed by: Mateo Beltroy
Microsoft SNDS

If you’ve spent any amount of time checking your email deliverability and how to optimize it, Microsoft’s Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) might have come across your radar.

Microsoft’s SNDS is a tool that offers data about your IP reputation with Microsoft’s email services. But what exactly is Microsoft SNDS, how does it work, and why should you care?

In this article, we will go into detail about the tool and its advantages for your email marketing strategy.

What is Microsoft SNDS?

Microsoft Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) is a powerful tool you can use to gain in-depth insights into your email deliverability and sender behaviors, specifically targeted towards Microsoft’s consumer mailboxes like Outlook and Hotmail. It’s a free postmaster service that provides a bird’s-eye view of your IP’s email performance.

SNDS measures email volume, spam complaints, spam traps, message filter results, and bounce rate. It’s like Microsoft’s version of Google Postmaster Tools, giving you a snapshot of your sender reputation. While it might not give you hard data on inbox placement, it certainly provides you with important information on how Microsoft perceives mails from your IP, which is of course important if your audience is made up of primarily Outlook or Hotmail users.

SNDS can help you gain insights into your email program, allowing you to leverage metrics to optimize your campaigns, improve deliverability, and make sure your messages land in the inbox. In short, Microsoft SNDS is your ticket to effective email verification and a strong, sustained sender reputations.

Why Should you use SNDS?

The Microsoft Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) offers tangible benefits to improve your email marketing effectiveness.

SNDS provides data services that give you valuable insights into your email volume. This tool is particularly effective if your subscribers predominantly use Microsoft Smart email platforms, such as Outlook and Hotmail.

A strong sender reputation is important for email marketing. The data services SNDS provides help you maintain a healthy sender reputation. A dip in sender score can land your emails in the spam folder or even get you blacklisted, significantly affecting your future campaigns.

With the network data services from SNDS, you can assess the effectiveness of your email marketing strategies. The data helps you make necessary adjustments to ensure consistent or improved performance.

In short, Microsoft SNDS is a pretty powerful tool for email marketers. If you don’t believe us, give it a try, it’s free!

How Does Microsoft SNDS Work?

Microsoft SNDS essentially scrutinizes log data from inbound mail servers, providing you with metrics based on all the recorded activity associated with your dedicated IP addresses. By leveraging data services, Microsoft SNDS generates an analysis of your network data, giving you visibility into your mail server traffic.

Microsoft’s SNDS works by monitoring your mail server’s inbound traffic. It continually scans and assesses the log data generated by your servers, creating a snapshot of your email activity. This data is then processed and distilled into metrics that you can use to gauge the health and efficiency of your email operations.

But it’s not just about collecting data. SNDS also informs you about any potential issues that may affect your email deliverability. Whether it’s a sudden surge in send volume or an increase in complaints, SNDS alerts you so you can take quick action.

What Data Does SNDS Provide?

When you’re using Microsoft’s SNDS, you’ll receive an abundance of data (sometimes, an overwhelming amount of data). This includes general IP data, traffic information, spam filter results, complaint rates, and spam trap hits.

In the following, we’re going to break down what each of these metrics means and why they’re important for you.

General IP Data

Microsoft’s Smart Network Data Services (SNDS) gives you a detailed breakdown of your IP traffic, including the number of messages sent to Outlook or Hotmail recipients, provided your IP sends more than 100 messages a day for accurate metric reporting.

SNDS is particularly useful for high volume senders, as the data might not display properly for lower volumes. Here’s what you can learn from it:

  1. It provides distinct metrics for each of your validated IP addresses.
  2. It measures the number of recipients on messages transmitted by your IP. A large discrepancy between this and the number of messages sent can highlight issues.
  3. It can help identify problems like outdated mailing lists or namespace mining.

Spam Filter Results

The system conveniently aggregates and displays the spam filter data in an intuitive, color-coded graph. It sorts data based on the percentage of time a spam verdict was rendered on a message. This means it doesn’t just flag suspected spam, but only those emails that meet Microsoft’s definitive spam criteria.

SNDS Spam Filter Diagram

SNDS’s analytical algorithm helps sort through all of your messages, focusing only on confirmed spam. This approach gives you a precise understanding of your spam issues, without the noise of suspicious, but unconfirmed spam.

It’s an advanced tool that makes spam management easier and more accurate. A no-brainer for email marketing experts.

Complaint Percentage

Most marketers will find the complaint percentage to be a particularly valuable metric. SNDS calculates this as the fraction of time a message from your IP is complained about by a Hotmail, Outlook, or Windows Live user.

This metric is extremely revealing and isn’t automated like spam filtering. It requires user action, which can help you gauge your audience’s reception to your emails.

Here’s what SNDS counts as a complaint:

  1. When a user marks your message as spam.
  2. If your email ends up in the junk folder.
  3. Any direct complaint lodged by the user.

With this data, you can adjust your email content, making sure it resonates with your audience. For this, you may want to look into dynamic email content to send out more personalized emails.

Spam Trap Hits

Spam trap accounts, maintained by the mailbox provider, exist to catch suspicious sender behavior. If you’re sending messages to these accounts, it’s likely they’re being perceived as spam and blocked from valid recipients’ inboxes. But it’s not foolproof.

Legitimate messages can end up in spam traps, usually due to purchased email lists or poor list hygiene. That’s why keeping your mailing list updated is a key part of maintaining a solid sender reputation. So, always be mindful of the potential impact of spam trap hits when using Microsoft SNDS.

Traffic Data

SNDS offers granular insights into your email traffic, with data based on three key metrics:

  1. RCPT commands: This shows the number of times you’ve indicated an intent to send mail to a recipient.
  2. DATA commands: This reflects the number of messages that Microsoft has accepted for delivery.
  3. Message recipients: This is the final count of messages that reach recipients, either in their inbox or spam folder.
IP Data

Analyzing these metrics can alert you to issues like high bounce rates or potential reputation problems.

Sample Messages

In troubleshooting your email delivery issues, you’ll find SNDS’ provision of sample messages extremely useful (at least we do!). SNDS offers sample messages for user junk reports and trap hits. This data helps you in identifying potential issues with your mailings, providing information as to why your emails might be landing in junk folders or triggering spam traps.

However, it’s important to know that SNDS only provides one sample message per IP for both types daily. While this may seem limiting, it’s a valuable resource for pinpointing issues and improving your email practices. Analyzing these samples can reveal patterns or issues you may have overlooked, giving you the opportunity to adjust your strategies daily, if necessary.

How can you Check SNDS?

Checking your SNDS data requires a dedicated IP and a Microsoft account, but once these are in place, you can access the insights about your IP activity. If you’re on a shared IP, unfortunately, you cannot access SNDS. However, with a dedicated IP, the process becomes straightforward.

1. Create a Microsoft account

Head to outlook.com and create an account. This regular consumer domain account allows you to send and receive emails and log into the Microsoft Smart Network Data Service page.

You’ll need to set-up two primary email addresses:

      • abuse@yourdomain.com

      • postmaster@yourdomain.com

    These addresses need to match with the rDNS of the IP. If your corporate domain address is ratersedge.com, then the abuse@ and postmaster@ must match your domain. 

    2. Contact your provider

    Before submitting the request to view your IP data, get in touch with your provider. They’ll guide you through the process and tell you which email to use for the access request.

    For example, Twilio’s SendGrid requires you to sign up and request access. Once access is requested, they ask that you meet with their support team to get approval for the information you’ll need.

    Each provider will have detailed steps to request access on their platforms, make sure you check their documentation before continuing.

    3. Request Access

    On the SNDS page, select ‘Request Access and enter your IP address. This IP address may be one that your provider gave you to use to access the SNDS data. Make sure you input the correct IP. After inputting your IP, you’ll need to select the email you want to use for confirmation. Choose the abuse@ or the postmaster@ email you set up, or the abuse@ or postmaster@ email that was given to you by your provider. You’ll then receive a confirmation email. Notify your provider, who can verify it on their end.

    Request Access to SNDS

    Once you’ve done all this, SNDS will start showing your IP activity once approval is granted.

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