How Reputation Affects Email Deliverability

Around 87% of marketers use email marketing to spread their content. That places email as the 3rd most popular distribution channel, behind social media (at 91%) and the company website (at 89%).

As mentioned in the prior posts in this series, email marketing has a high ROI, yielding an average of $42 in revenue for every $1 spent.

That’s just one of the reasons that email will continue to be an integral part of a modern marketing strategy.

But email marketing only yields a high ROI if your email lands in the inbox of those you target. That is email deliverability, and the rate at which emails are delivered to the inbox is dependent on these three factors:

We covered both content and identification in the prior posts in this series. These factors work together to determine if and where your email lands in the inbox. Today we crack open the final piece of the puzzle, which is sender reputation.

What is email sender reputation?

It’s the score that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign to organizations that send email. The higher that score, the more likely an ISP will deliver emails to recipient inboxes.

If your score is too low, the ISP may either send your email to the spam folder or reject them outright.

How do I check my sender reputation?

Several different tools allow you to check your sender reputation. Each tool uses slightly different criteria to determine a reputation score out of 100. We recommend running a few different ones.

Here are some free, popular tools for checking your reputation:

These are just a handful of free tools that can tell you your sender reputation. There are many more, but you only need a few to determine your status.

What factors go into determining sender reputation? 

Several factors go into determining sender reputation. These include:

  • Volume of email
  • Number of spam complaints or other adverse actions taken on your emails
  • How often you hit ISP spam traps
  • Whether or not you’re on a blacklist
  • Bounce rate
  • The number of positive actions users take in response to your emails (open, reply to, forward, or click through)
  • The number of recipients that unsubscribe
  • Whether or not you have proper sender identification
  • The quality of the content of your emails

These are all factors that determine your sender reputation. There are ways to both measure and manipulate these factors.

How can you improve your sender reputation?

Track Email Delivery Rates

Pay attention to everything from bounce rates to response rates. If you notice a significant fluctuation, you can sometimes catch issues before they ruin your reputation.

Track Bounce Codes 

There are a couple of different types of bounces – hard and soft. What’s the difference?

  • Hard bounce – an email that couldn’t be delivered for permanent reasons.
  • Soft bounce – an email that couldn’t be delivered for temporary reasons.

You need to remove email addresses that are hard bouncing, which hurts your reputation.  Soft bounces can be caused by emails that are too large or other email-specific/temporary delivery issues.

Hygiene and Clean Your List

Hard and soft bounces are one of the reasons that you need to hygiene and clean your list. Both hurt your reputation, which in turn hurts your email deliverability.

Any database has a natural amount of decay. Be sure to eliminate addresses that are hard bouncing and those that soft bounce repeatedly. From there, look at perhaps removing email addresses that never open your emails or take negative action against them.

Remember, when it comes to an email list, you want quality contacts over quantity.

Create Compelling Content  

We wrote a whole blog post on how email content is a crucial component in email deliverability. The quality of your content and your copy ties into factors like:

  • Positive and negative actions taken by recipients in response to copy/content
  • Copy that triggers an automating spam filter
  • The image to text ratio
  • How your email looks on various ESPs and screens

Compelling copy causes recipients to click through. That’s a positive action. Adverse reactions include marking your email as spam, blocking you as a sender, or deleting the email without opening it.

Make sure the content of your email provides value, and that will benefit your sender reputation.

Prime Your IP  

The first step to starting any email campaign should include priming your IP address. The last thing ISPs want to see is a new IP address sending out a massive amount of emails.

Start small and engaged. Think of this batch of emails as the round where you get engaged email recipients primed and prove to ISPs that you’re sending out valuable content, not spam.

Then, when you start sending, try segmenting your audiences and sending emails out in increasingly larger batches. This keeps your send volume increasing in a manner that looks organic, which helps your reputation score.

Check Your Blacklist Status

Being blacklisted is just about as bad as it sounds. Email service providers (ESPs) will put your IP or domain on a blacklist if you’re suspected of sending spam. Many of the tips in this post and the other two articles in the series will help prevent this, but it’s a good idea to check regardless.

Here is a 101 and a list of potential blacklists you may be on and how you can get your brand off that list.

That wraps up this miniseries on email deliverability. When you optimize content, identification, and reputation as part of your email marketing strategy, you maximize the ROI of your brand’s email.

That means you spend less time sending emails to recipients who never receive them and more time reaching your engaged, valuable audience. Stop doing that to yourself and the brand you work for, and prime yourself for success.

Let us know what you think: 

  • Have you ever checked your sender reputation?
  • Did you ever end up on an email blacklist? How? How did you solve it?

This post was originally written and published by Acadia Otlowski on August 27th, 2020.

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