How to Maintain a Healthy Email Reputation
“Email service providers (ESPs) are working harder than ever to reduce inbox irrelevance for their customers. If a person didn’t opt in for communications, any emails sent to them are considered spam. Spam is unsolicited email sent in bulk to a list of recipients and it can hurt your email marketing strategy.
Say “No” to Email Spam
Approximately 7% of emails land in spam folders (Source: Return Path; MarketingProfs). Don’t let your emails fall into that category.
Not only is sending spam illegal, it has a negative impact on email open and engagement rates. ESPs are coming up with more creative ways to bury spam. When recipients haven’t engaged with emails sent from the same IP address in the past, the ESP predicts the recipient doesn’t want them.
Don’t Get Buried
“Burying” is one of the most common contributors to decreased performance when IP quality is good. If your email list is opening email communications at a declining rate, ESPs see the trend and bury future communications.
In addition, some ESPs put “close calls” in the inbox but bury them with other “close calls” in a low-priority bucket. “Close calls” are emails that walk a thin line between spam and inbox emails. This reduces visibility and decreases open rates.
Your Score Matters
Every ESP assigns scores to emails to determine whether they will be delivered to a person’s inbox or spam folder. The criteria and values that determine the score continue to change and become increasingly stringent. ESPs place a lot of value on unsubscribes from previous emails from the IP address, emails marked as spam or emails from an IP address that had previously been deemed untrustworthy.
In fact, 21% of permission-based emails sent by legitimate email marketers land in junk folders (Source).
Five Email Mistakes NOT to Make
There are a few surefire ways to end up in spam folders. Avoid these five common mistakes (Source):
1. Using special characters (think #, &, @, etc.) to break up words, also known as hashbusting
2. Broken links, bad links and sometimes shortened links
3. High image to text ratio – don’t link to unreliable website or content
4. Misleading subject lines or overly salesy subject lines
5. Sending with an unauthenticated sender ID
Know Where You Stand
Think of your email score like your credit score. But instead of measuring your credit history, it measures your email reputation. If your sender score is poor, you have some serious recovery to do.
There are tools to investigate your email standing. We like this one, which shows you your email reputation and if any ESPs have blacklisted your IP address. Email reputation services may have varying metrics, but they all provide benchmarks for determining if your email program is healthy.
The goal is to maintain quality and good standing while increasing volume.
Avoid the Email Blacklist
If an ESP, or the platform used by recipients to receive and read their email, receives multiple abuse reports from its users, they can block the entire domain. This practice is commonly known as blacklisting. Once a domain has been blacklisted, the company behind the IP address can no longer send emails to users on that ESP.
The Long Road to Recovery
A process is then initiated by the owner of the blacklisted IP address to improve their standing. This can include a change to the IP, platforms, policies and domains to rebuild credibility and prove value back to the ESPs. This process can take 6-18 months, depending on the number of ESPs blacklisted. The company’s willingness to truly change and invest in more customer-centric practices is essential.
Remember, Spam is Illegal
Since spam is illegal, it carries a risk of liability for anyone involved in the creation, promotion or distribution of the email. As a sender, businesses must comply to requirements established by the CAN-SPAM Act (refer to requirement #7). If they fail to comply, they may face strict penalties for violations.
Each separate email violation is subject to penalties up to $41,484. The company that owns the promoted product or service and the company that sent the email are both liable (Source).
AMG has first-hand experience with the effort required to recover from low IP address quality and blacklisting. We want to shield you from these unnecessary costs. If you want to learn how to improve your email reputation or need some help, contact us.
Tessa Burg, VP, UX & Marketing Technology
From startups to global corporations, Tessa’s done it all. She applies her vast UX and technology experience to develop marketing plans that convert leads to sales.