“You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

Are your emails struggling to get through?

It could be that your domain or email sender reputation has taken a turn for the worse. In this article, we’ll show you how to find out – and what you can do about it.

Read on to learn about:

  • Why a bad email sender reputation is a problem?
  • What causes a poor sender reputation?
  • How to find out?
  • What to do about it?

Let’s get started.

People Always Talk About… Reputation

You don’t pour your heart into crafting a brilliant, compelling, well-thought out email campaign just so it can plop into the depths of a spam folder or boomerang back to you. Yet that’s exactly what will happen if you don’t take care with your sender reputation.

Research by Return Path found that one in 5 emails is returned, and 83% of the time that’s because of poor sender reputation. This stuff really matters to your success and engagement – and if your reputation has suffered for any reason, you need to take steps to fix it.

What Damages Your Reputation?

There are a bunch of reasons that an email sender could get labelled with a poor sender score. Common causes include your emails getting a lot of spam complaints, emailing to too many unknown or inactive users, getting spoofed or hacked, and also getting blacklisted by the industry.

The latter often happens when you buy up lists rather than growing yours organically. “Spam Trap” email addresses are embedded in the list and if you email them, this alerts some email servers and providers that you’ve been getting hold of emails without the user’s permission. That’s bad news for your email sender reputation.

How Do You Know if You Have a Poor Email Sender Reputation?

If you’re experiencing a drop in delivery and open rates, or you’re getting a lot of bounces, there’s a good chance your sender score/reputation is in trouble. You can check your score instantaneously at one of these websites:

How Can You Fix It?

The good news is that your sender score isn’t set in stone. You can improve it gradually over time. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Build up the volume of emails you send. Don’t jump straight in sending loads a day to a bazillion people. Focus on more engaged subscribers and scale up gradually so you don’t drag down your open rate.
  • Be consistent. If you’ve committed to a weekly newsletter, send a weekly newsletter. Don’t send one email one month and then 40 the next.
  • Check your classification. When you registered your domain, you also stated what industry you operate in. If you send unrelated emails, some ISPs will guess that’s spam. For example, if you say your domain is about fashion but then you send emails advertising financial products, this can negatively affect your reputation.
  • Be honest. Only ever use a person’s email address for the purpose you stated when you asked for it.
  • Only email people who opted in. You need to get permission from everyone on your list. No exceptions or excuses. And, also, never buy lists.
  • Have an easy opt-out. If people want to unsubscribe, don’t try to stop them. They’ll only label your emails as spam, which is bad for your reputation.
  • Segment your list. The more relevant each email is to the recipient, the better your engagement, and thus your reputation will be. Get some segmentation inspiration here.
  • Clean up your list. Remove dead, inactive and unresponsive emails from time to time so they don’t drag down your campaign performance.
  • Authenticate your domain through the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Email (DKIM). This helps prove that you’re ‘real’ and also makes it harder for others to spoof your email address.
  • Personalise your emails. This helps you to establish familiarity, build a good relationship with subscribers and, also, encourages them to open and click through. Learn more about personalisation here.
  • Make it easy for people to reply directly to the email. Replies indicate to email providers and spam filters that there’s a genuine relationship between you and the subscriber.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, your email sender reputation will be based on the behaviour of your recipients. If they leave emails in their inbox rather than sending them to spam, if they open them and click through to your site, if they reply to you directly or forward emails to others, all these things will send out a loud clear message that you’re legit.

… and your reputation will steadily improve.

You can’t control these reactions. Therefore, you can only give people a very good reason to want to behave that way. That means sending high-value, interesting, informative content and amazing deals to your subscribers. It means doing the hard thing well.

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