Have you ever wondered how some emails get sent to the spam folder and others land in your inbox? Some email accounts even organize everything received into categories automatically. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, which dictates which emails are trusted and which are more likely to go into spam.
Email sender reputation is a huge factor impacting what gets to the inbox, what to junk, what gets delete and what gets rejected. In this article, I’m diving into sender reputation and what this means for your email marketing.
It is pointless collecting loads of email addresses if you cannot contact them effectively due to not having the trust from the internet service providers to deliver the email to its intended recipient.
What is Email Sender Reputation?
Email Sender Reputation is basically a score which is assigned by an ISP (internet service provider). They assign this to a company or organization which sends emails – to domains and to IP addresses. Several things impact the scores (more on that below) and the scores determines whether emails are likely to reach their target or not. A poor reputation leads to emails ending up in spam or getting automatically flagged or deleted.
The reputation assigned varies between ISPs. There are lots of factors which go into deciding what counts as spam in the eyes of the ISP. Your reputation can change quickly if the ISPs determines there is something wrong with your campaigns.
Important factors for inbox placement and email sender reputation include:
- The volume of emails and consistency of sending frequency
- How many emails get deleted or instantly marked as spam by recipients
- How many times the emails get opened, replied to or just deleted. If many recipients quickly delete without opening, ISPs take that as a signal for unwanted email – spam
- How often the emails are marked as spam
- Sending to spam traps
- Sending to inactive email accounts
- Any complaints made to the ISP about the email sender.
- Whether the emails trigger unsubscribing from the mailing list by a lot of people
- The IP addresses used for sending, more on this below
Sending from a shared IP address means your activity is mixed in with the activity of other brands. Therefore, you may suffer other brands who are not following best practice.
This is often referred to as a ‘bad neighborhood’. If your email server is sending bad email for other people, it is likely that you will be taken down by association. A bad neighborhood can be other hosts within the same subnetwork. It doesn’t need to be the same IP even.
A study conducted about Internet Bad Neighborhoods showed that this phenomenon can occur on internet service providers (ISP). In this research, it’s presented that almost half of all spamming IP addresses can be traced to 20 ISPs.
This study implies that a small number of “bad neighbourhoods” are liable for the majority of online spam, phishing and other dodgy activity. Therefore, it is advisable for ISPs to employ a security mechanism to analyze emails from unknown sources.
Find Your Reputation
Thankfully some information is available to help you understand your reputation. These tools all help:
- Google Postmaster – Gmail reputation reports
- Microsoft Smart Network Data service – Microsoft rating for IP addresses
- com – technical tools for checking blacklists and more
- Deliveryindex – inbox placement based on user panel data
- Sender Score – a score calculated by ReturnPath for IP address quality
- Talos – real time threat data showing from where bad email is coming.
One of the best ways to monitor your reputation is to look at open rate trends by domain. Not all email solutions make this easy. If you can get this though data it is very insightful.
Look for domains that have open rates much lower than the rest of your domains, or domains that show rapid change in open rate compared to other domains. This can be an early warning signal.
Why Does Email Sender Reputation Matter?
You might think you can always make another email account, switch IP address, change domain name, so why should you worry about the reputation?
The fact is that you’ll quickly end up in the same place if you carry on with the same practices. You can run but you can’t hide!
Avoid Email Blacklist
Getting blacklisted is like a death sentence for your email marketing. It means certain email providers and accounts stopping your emails from getting through.
Domains and IP addresses can be blacklisted which can lead to all emails getting instantly blocked. For instance, if you are blacklisted by Gmail, none of your emails will reach Gmail accounts.
Nobody likes or wants spam. ISP filter systems are in place for a reason; combating spam.
I bet you get a lot fewer spam emails now than you will have 10 years ago, this is because the spam combatting systems have improved.
If you are willing to do a little bit of legwork like cleaning up your mailing lists and making sure you don’t abuse the systems, then you should not have big issues getting to the inbox.
Ultimately, an email list is built to get you more attention from potential or existing customers and to increase engagement. The benefits to a good email list are huge
But if your email ends up in spam folders then they will not help you. They could even end up damaging your chances of successful email campaigns in the future by bringing down your reputation.
There are a lot of myths about email deliverability and inbox placement. Some deliverability myths were once true, but have since ceased to be important due to continual improvement in ISPs filter algorithms.
Email Sender Reputation is complex. But the concept behind it is not – send emails that people want.
When people show they want your emails the ISPs consider you to be a good sender.