History is filled with examples of improved technologies outperforming predecessors—from the typewriter to word processor to computer, or from rotary phone to iPhone 6... That pattern is true among email service providers, too, with Outlook and Gmail overtaking more players such as Yahoo Mail.

Yahoo Mail is not going down quietly, however. Although it has fallen from its top spot among email services, Yahoo Mail is working to revive both its user base and its features to regain dominance.

On its 18th birthday, Yahoo Mail underwent a full makeover to tackle its shortcomings and to better serve its 1 billion active monthly users.

Although it has traditionally failed to keep up with consumers' email habits in an increasingly mobile and e-commerce-driven environment, Yahoo Mail is attempting to become a more intuitive and useful platform. With improvements to search filters, design elements, and security, Yahoo Mail's transformation will offer today's users many benefits.

As more consumers choose to remain with or adopt Yahoo Mail, marketers need to understand how its recent changes will affect the email industry—ESPs as well as engagement and deliverability rates. Though many of Yahoo Mail's updates will improve marketer-subscriber engagement, some of the changes could require marketers to reimagine how they will reach consumers.

Of the variety of updates Yahoo Mail has implemented, the following five are among those that most directly affect marketers.

1. Avatars

To address issues of spam and malware, Yahoo Mail offers avatars to help users locate "authorized senders." To provide contextual information about users' contacts, Yahoo Mail pulls images from popular social channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook) and links them with incoming messages.

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image of Brad van der Woerd

Brad van der Woerd is director of deliverability and market intelligence at Yesmail Interactive. In that capacity, has worked with various Fortune 500 companies (including HP, eBay, and Coke) to improve deliverability rates and maintain a positive email reputation.