25 Oct 2018

Five Habits to Improve Your Email Reputation

Top FiveIn job hunting, relationships and credit checks, your reputation can make or break you.

In email marketing, it can determine whether your message reaches the right people on your email address list or dies unseen.

As a marketer, you know your subject lines, your engagement metrics and your domain’s email volume. The major email providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail, they know those things, too. And if they suspect you’re spamming their users, you may wind up on their email blacklist. That means they may exile your messages to a spam folder or not deliver them at all.

These providers all have their own criteria for calculating a sender’s email reputation. These criteria are a tightly held secret and can evolve over time.  But one thing is clear: The more you act like a spammer, the more likely you’ll be seen as one.

Here are five things you’ll want to do:

1. Be Validated

Efforts to stop spamming, spoofing and phishing practices over the years have given rise to three major validation mechanisms designed to verify the legitimate source of an email and help recipients manage questionable one. SPF, DKIM and DMARC are complex codes embedded in emails that help providers see you as trustworthy.

Use these mechanisms, but use them right.  Even a minor typo in a validation code can get one email blocked, dinging your email reputation and increasing the risk that future messages may be blocked, too. Double-check and test your work. Small mistakes on a mass scale can get you on an email blacklist in a hurry.

2. Be Consistent

When someone who usually drinks one coffee a day suddenly switches to ten, it sets off red flags. The same goes for a marketer whose email volume makes a sudden, giant leap. If your volume surges overnight from 5,000 emails to 500,000, providers may question whether the new names on your email address list are legit. They probably won’t give you the benefit of the doubt.

If you’re launching a new IP address, it’s even more important to start slow and steady.  Your initial mailings probably shouldn’t go out to more than 10 or 20 people at a time. A new IP address lacks a solid track record, so you need to build one or risk being seen as a spammer.  A new account suddenly blasting a ton of emails gives the same shady vibe as a new neighbor telling everyone in the apartment complex about his “great investment opportunity.” Don’t be that guy.

3. Be Engaging

As email providers determine which messages their users welcome, they take cues from the users themselves. If your recipients delete your messages unread – or worse, mark them as spam – it’s a reasonable assumption that they won’t want your future mailings, either.

Craft messages that engage your recipients. Pique their interest enough to open the email, activate images, click links or add you to their address book. Even if they don’t buy this time, getting their engagement improves the chances future messages will get through. If you have recipients who never engage, be proactive and take them off your email address list. It will help your overall stats.

4. Be Responsive

Some customers – even good ones – may break up with you via the unsubscribe button. Honor those opt-out requests quickly. Not only does the law require it, but someone who unsubscribes from your email address list and gets your next mailing anyway may punish you by marking it as spam.

If you use ISP feedback loops, which tell you when your recipients have filed spam complaints, get those names off your email address list before your next message triggers a follow-up complaint. Also scrub that email address list of any destinations where your messages regularly bounce back. Hanging on to undeliverable addresses doesn’t do you any good at all.

While it may be disappointing to whittle off names of customers or potential leads, it’s a much better long-term play to keep your email address list full of people who want to hear from you.       

5. Be Careful

Some email addresses have been released into the wild for the sole purpose of catching spammers. These so-called “spam traps” have addresses from long-dormant accounts or can have slight spelling variations from legitimate email domains. (gmeil.com or Hotnail). A bogus address obviously didn’t have a real user opt in for your message. That can be brutal for your reputation.

You’re more likely to wind up with spam traps on your mailing list if you buy huge batches of unvetted leads or pull random addresses from online forums. It’s more work to build yourself a solid, legitimate email address list, but that work can pay off in the long run by keeping you off an email blacklist.

The Bottom Line:

Email marketing is a powerful tool. But the ability to send messages to targeted leads means nothing if the gatekeepers of your customers’ email accounts stop those messages in transit. Protect your reputation like it means everything. When it comes to your email, it does.

To learn more about email reputation reach out to us today or download our ebook The Email Has Landed: How Understanding and Improving Deliverability Can Help Your Messages Get Through.