It’s All About Likeability: Why IP Reputation Management Should Be Your Top Priority
You would think that emails would all start equal. After all, they’re written and then follow the same predetermined path. So what determines whether your emails push you to the top of your class or keep you stuck struggling to make a sale? Reputation. If you have a good reputation, your emails get delivered, your messages get to the consumers and you reap the benefits. Have a bad reputation, though, and you’ll watch your customers pass you by. And one of the most crucial factors in helping you succeed is your IP reputation.
IP stands for “Internet Protocol.” You’ve probably heard of it in reference to your IP address, which is basically a digital postal address for your computer server. It’s the return address that gets attached to everything you do, whether that’s downloading music, streaming video or sending emails. Internet service providers (ISPs) like Google pay very close attention to those IPs when it comes to email marketing campaigns. If your IP comes from a good neighborhood, is squeaky clean and an A student, that mail gets delivered into the recipients’ inbox. But if your IP comes from the wrong side of the tracks, that email gets put on the fast track to the spam folder or are rejected outright.
If too many of your emails don’t find their way to their destination, your IP–and by extension, you and your brand–get a nasty reputation. That’s why it’s so important for email marketers to understand how to manage IP reputation so you’re viewed in a positive light by ISPs. You want them to see that you’re trustworthy. You want them to see that you have valuable information. And, most of all, you want those darned emails to get through to your customers, so you can convert more leads.
How Your IP Is Scored
So how does an ISP determine whether you’re worthy or not? Simple. They score you like the judgy judgersons they are. Your score goes up or down depending on your sending habits and how recipients respond to your emails (if they open them, if they mark it as spam, etc.). Now, there’s no way to win the game if you don’t know the rules, so here are the most important rules your IP has to follow:
- Complaints against you. “Receiver complaints” are when email recipients complain about your emails (like marking your emails as spam) and, by extension, you. The complaints are compared to successfully delivered emails, and the more complaints there are, the worse your reputation becomes.
- How many unknown users get sent emails. Ever sent an email and had it bounce back immediately because there’s “no such number, no such zone?” It happens to the best of us. Even well-scrubbed, totally up-and-up email lists have some. So, a few bounce-backs won’t hurt your reputation, but if your server tries to deliver to too many invalid addresses on a too-frequent basis, that looks an awful lot like spam, and your reputation gets dinged.
- How often and how many emails you’re sending. If you have a shiny new IP address or one you haven’t yet sent a lot of emails from, you don’t have much of a reputation yet. So, if you suddenly start spraying emails right and left, the ISPs will think you got hacked, which can lower or even blacklist you. You’ll need to make sure you’re sending the right amount of emails at the right amount of time in order to get in front of the right people…but not trigger the spam filters.
How to Keep A Super-Awesome Reputation
Now that you know all about how you’re being judged, you can figure out a strategy. Here’s how you can rise up from the rest and transform your IP into the most respected IP in the business.
- Have your emails authenticated.We won’t get into the details of this point, but just know that authentication is super important. Having it means your sender info is correct and you’re not forging emails. If your emails aren’t authenticated, they end up in the spam folder or don’t get delivered at all…which, again, hurts your reputation.
- Do what you can to minimize complaints.Complaints, like taxes, are inevitable. And even your subscribed customers may mark you as spam (or otherwise complain) if they get tired of your stuff and can’t find an unsubscribe link. So be sure to clearly state a link for unsubscribing in every email. Even though it’s sad to see people go, it’s a lot better to do that than risk getting a dreaded “spam” mark.
- Scrub your email lists on the regular. Email lists you’ve bought can have lots of invalid email addresses. The best way to avoid too many bad emails is to use a confirmed opt-in method, verify old opt-in lists to see if they’re valid or work with a company (cough cough Softvu cough cough) who can manage all that for you. Then, make sure all bad emails are removed before the list becomes your “active” tool.
- Check to see if your IP address already has a bad reputation.Your IP address, much like your phone number, usually isn’t created just for you. You’ll want to see if yours is on any blacklists before you start an email campaign, and then if it is, start working to get it delisted. Think of it like scrubbing your credit report for errors before applying for a loan.
- Send just the right of messages to the right people at the right time.Don’t start running before you learn to walk! Build your sender reputation slowly, sending out small email blasts and increasing the volume from there. If you do need to send a lot of emails, quickly, you can use multiple IP addresses from multiple servers to work around that issue.
- Use an IP address that’s just for you. There are two types of IP addresses: dedicated and shared. If you share your IP with someone else, how they send messages will affect your sender score, too. By having an IP address that’s just for you, you’ll know that any activity is based on what you’re doing. That means total control (and total responsibility).
- Work with a reputable partner who can manage all these things and more for you so you don’t have to learn every in-and-out of the IP management biz.You know, like SoftVu. There’s no reason why you should have to make yourself an expert in IP reputation management, because that’s a lot of work and learning, and you’re already busy. We know IP reputation management like the back of our hand and we stay up-to-date on any shifting best practices or spam filter triggers (because they can change on a dime, just like anything with the internet). We do our due diligence to ensure all of your email lists are clean (and kept that way), you build a positive IP reputation in the best way possible…meaning, most importantly, that more of your emails get delivered to your leads, resulting in higher conversion rates. Talk about a Cinderella story!
We’re confident the glass slipper will fit. Whether your reputation is squeaky clean or not, SoftVu will help you reach more inboxes, more opens and more click throughs. Reach out to learn about a new solution from Lending Manager that industry leaders are talking about! Find out how we can help you build a better, stronger business.