CATEGORY: Best practiceDeliverability

When reputation is everything...

When reputation is everything...

An email sender reputation is a score than an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to an organization that sends email. It’s a crucial component of your email deliverability. The higher the score the more likely an ISP will deliver your mails. If the score falls below a certain level the ISP may send messages to recipients’ spam folders or even reject them completely.

There are several sources that “score” your email reputation, similar to credit reporting agencies for your personal credit history. And just like your credit score, the better your email reputation is, the better your delivery rates are.

Sophisticated algorithms

ISPs have developed increasingly sophisticated algorithms to determine email reputations and, for obvious reasons, don’t publicise exactly how they do it. The following are some of the elements that can affect how an ISP may calculate an emailer’s reputation:

  • Subscriber complaints

  • Volume of bad/nonexistent addresses

  • Infrastructure

  • Whether or not you’re mailing to spam traps

  • Domain reputation

  • Sending history

A vicious cycle

Steadily declining open rates are one of the clearest indications that your sending reputation is in need of repair and this can be a problematic cycle to get into. Mail servers notice the lack of engagement with your emails and may block, bounce or route your emails to junk automatically – this, in turn, leads to even lower rates of engagement that damage your sending reputation further and the cycle continues.

The basics of building a strong sending reputation

1. Send to permission based email lists

Only send email to lists of your own customers or subscribers who have directly and expressly opted-in to receive your emails. If you are using general contact forms or competition forms to source recipients, ensure that there is an opt-in checkbox so that those people can give their permission to be added to your mailing list. Sending to permission-based lists is the simplest part of managing your sending reputation

2. Keep your email list clean and healthy

If you haven’t sent a message to an address for a long time, or thy have not interacted with messages that you have sent for over 12 months it is best to weed them out as they will adversely affect your engagement rates and ultimately your reputation.

3. Send targeted and relevant content

By segmenting your data and sending targeted and relevant content your engagement will flourish and so will your reputation. Not all of your content is going to be relevant to all your subscribers, but by segmenting and sending highly targeted mails you should see an increase in conversions. Those positive signals of opens and clicks translate to positive gains for your reputation.

4. Send from your own domain

Send your emails using an email address at your own domain. The success of your email sends is tied to the reputation of your sending domain.

If you mail from a free domain address such as Gmail, Yahoo! or Hotmail, you won’t be able to authenticate your sends nor will you be able to build your reputation as a sender. Here at e-shot™ we always ensure that you have a custom domain to send your mails from, protecting your brand whilst ensuring consistency.

5. Authenticate your emails

Not only is authentication a strong step towards improving your email deliverability but authenticating your sending domain can also be a huge boost for your sending reputation. Receiving servers will note the legitimacy of your DKIM signature and being a trusted, authenticated sender will have a positive effect on how receiving domains will handle your emails.

How to fix a damaged sending reputation

The first step when fixing your sending reputation is to work out what and when it went wrong.

Look for patterns and irregularities in opens, bounces, spam complaints, clicks and unsubscribes.  Look at your email Forensics report with your account manager to see what information is in there to further help your investigations. Review if low open rates or high spam reports coincide with a particular list that you are working with or if poor performance can be linked to a new template you are using.

Sometimes your sending reputation can be damaged by prolonged sending to unengaged lists, review how long the subscribers have been dormant for – it may be time for a re-engagement campaign or perhaps even to cull that data.

Use a preference centre to give your subscribers control over what and how frequently they hear from you.

By sending to a list full of subscribers that want to receive your content, you can improve engagement and help repair your sending reputation. Remember that list quality is more important than quantity.

Sending reputation is as much a case of seeing strong results as well as eliminating the causes of poor performing sends – so use what you know about your subscribers and the campaigns that perform well to consistently see success with your sends.

Watch our webinar

There are many technical elements to making sure your email marketing gets delivered, but the most important aspects of good deliverability relate to your data and your content. Learn about the five things you should be doing to keep your emails out of junk in our dedicated webinar.   

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