I have been dealing with a client delivery issue at a major ISP recently. During the course of troubleshooting my client tested mail delivery using a personal email account. This client noticed that email was delivered promptly. He then asked me if it was possible to get the ISP to prioritize his bulk mail over personal email. The short answer is no, ISPs do prioritize one-to-one email over bulk email.
Answering the question for him crystallized some vague thoughts that ended up running through my head at the conference last week. During the conference, and similar email conferences, conference call and any discussion that involves senders and receivers, there is usually little discussion of end users.
End users. Those people who are recipients of the emails that senders send. Those people who are customers of the nreceiver ISPs. End users who are almost never involved in the conversation, but without whom there would not be a conversation. These are the people that really matter. These are who senders need to engage. These are who the receivers need to keep happy.
It is, in fact, the end users who want one-to-one email more than they want bulk mail. Even the best bulk mail is not as engaging as that email from your best friend, or the problem solving with a colleague, or the latest gossip. ISPs know this, and they do not prioritize bulk mail, no matter how well managed and how engaging, over one-to-one mail.