27 Dec 2018

Why good email reputation management is important (and how it can generate leads!)

Good businesses know that reputation management in digital marketing can make or break you.

Great ones know that it can generate new opportunities.

Your sending reputation determines whether your emails land in the recipient’s inbox or get tripped up along the way. It’s how internet service and email account providers protect users from scammers, spammers and other bad actors. If they see you as a trusted sender, they’ll pass your messages through. If something about you seems shady, off to the spam folder you go. If they’re really dubious about your emails, they may block them altogether.

While reputation management guidelines can be vague and evolving, in general, you get a good sending reputation the same way you get one in real life: a steady record of good behavior with no major screw-ups. Do you send emails to people who want to hear from you? Do you send a reasonable volume? Are your emails usually opened and read?

Service and email providers assess your history with an overall rating, similar to a credit score. As long as you keep that status healthy, the vast majority of your emails should get through. But providers don’t always make it easy for you to know where you stand. So the best strategy for managing your reputation is by being a model citizen.

So what does that entail? And how can that help you generate leads?

Do you send emails to recipients who want them?

This is a major factor in your reputation score. If enough recipients delete your emails unread or mark them as spam, it’ll take you down a notch. Sending emails to nonexistent addresses is even worse. Collecting and curating a quality email list takes time, but the potential payoff is huge. A good list means you’re marketing to people who are already interested in you.

Collect emails through clean, organic ways: from your existing customer base, getting referrals, using content to encourage sign-ups or through ads placed in targeted social media groups. These practices don’t just help your reputation, they’re good ways to reach new, quality leads. Use a double opt-in technique to ensure the interest of these new people and keep your list scrubbed clean and current, removing people who opt out or never engage, as well as any addresses that bounce back.  The goal is to have the most receptive audience you can with every mailing.

A warning: Businesses are sometimes approached by people offering to sell you a huge batch of email addresses, often for a low, low price. While tempting, approach these offers with the same skepticism you’d give someone selling meat out of a Mazda behind a bowling alley. You don’t know where it came from, you don’t know how good it is and actually using it could cause more harm than good.

Many of these addresses may be outdated or fake. They could be scraped from online forums from people who don’t know or care who you are. They could be spam traps — bogus email addresses released into the wild for the express purpose of catching people sending unwanted mailings. Don’t let the temptation of easy emails sully your reputation.

Are you sending a reasonable volume of messages?

Once you have a receptive audience, don’t drive them off by flooding their inboxes. This isn’t a time for high-pressure tactics. Most people don’t want more than an email or two per month, even from a business they like. When you do contact them, make the information and offers so good that they don’t need to be asked again. Keep sending to them and they may opt out or relegate you to the spam folder.

Even if users don’t mark excessive emails as spam, their filters might. High email volume is a common spam tactic, so it’s not a good look. It’s one reason new domains don’t want to send out enormous batches of emails right away. Young accounts should be warmed up through slow, steady mailings so they can let a good reputation grow.

The good news is there’s a tool that can help identify your recipient’s volume sweet spot and generate new leads in the process. Preference centers let your customers decide how often they want to hear from you, whether it’s daily, weekly or only on special occasions. Even better, these tools let customers tell you what they want to hear about — and that’s a great way to target them for new business. If a recipient says they’re only interested in emails about short-term loan refinancing, then that’s a customer you can cultivate for that express purpose.

Are your emails typically opened and read?

Your reputation also depends on how often your recipients open and engage with your emails. Do they enable images? Do they click your links? Do they whitelist you or add you to their address book? Do they buy whatever it is you’re offering? These are all things you want them to do anyway. The fact that they help your reputation is icing on the cake.

The better you make your copy, content and offers, the more your recipients will engage. If you can get your recipients to stay engaged, they can help you amplify your reach.

Ask them to take surveys about other business areas they might want to know more about. Encourage them to leave good reviews about you on social media. Offer them incentives if they refer you to their friends and family. These engaged recipients already like you and like hearing from you. They can be great influencers and advocates. One good customer can lead to a dozen more, and it all starts with good email marketing practices.

The Bottom Line

Reputation management and customer experience go hand-in-hand. Treat your email recipients with the same courtesy and respect you’d show a prospect who came through your door. Good practices don’t just create good sender reputations, they can pay off in big ways for the future of your business.