With every passing day, a new business or two announces itself on the scene. In such a competitive landscape, how do you ensure, then, that your business comes up on top? By carving a formidable reputation for your brand. Your business’s ability to secure new clients, expand its operations, and subsequently outrank your competitors eventually rests on the reputation it has accrued for itself.
The quality of your products and services isn’t the sole parameter determining your brand reputation; your marketing efforts also play a significant role. The manner in which you go about building your visibility shapes your customers’ (both existing and prospective) opinion of you. At present, email lies at the forefront of many businesses’ communication and marketing efforts out there. And the success of their email marketing efforts depends largely on their email sender reputation. A poor reputation will hamper your email deliverability, meaning more and more of your emails will land up in the spam than inboxes.
Needless to say, it is essential for businesses to work towards improving their email sender reputation lest their marketing efforts go in vain. In this article, we’ll walk you through some effective practices that’ll let you stay in control of your reputation. But, before we do that, let us first understand what exactly email sender reputation is all about.
What is Email Sender Reputation?
Email sender reputation is a score allocated to your email sending IP (Internet Protocol) address by your ISPs (Internet Service Providers). It is determined by multiple factors such as email sending frequency, bounces, number of messages sent, opens and forwards, link clicks, number of recipients marking you as spam, and number of unsubscribed users. The weightage assigned to the factors determining your reputation varies from one ISP to the next. If your business owns multiple domain names and sends emails from different IP addresses, every domain will have its individual sender reputation.
Your email sender reputation has a linear relationship with your email deliverability: the higher the score, the greater the probability of your emails getting delivered. If you’re not sure where your reputation stands, try to analyze your past results. The further you can go back, the better. Steadily declining open rates are often clear indicators of a deteriorating sender reputation. Keep in mind the fact that mail servers also monitor this decline. So, if you fail to address this at the right time, the recipient mail servers will inevitably bounce your emails or mark them as spam.
5 Practices That Build Your Email Sender Reputation
Consider implementing the practices discussed below.
- Build High-Quality Lists
At the time of email list acquisition, ensure that you’re collecting your addresses at the back of opt-ins (it doesn’t matter single or double). Opt-ins allow you to build permission-based lists where every single contact is aware that they’ve subscribed to your communication. Because they’re here of their own accord, they’ll respond to your emails, paving the path for better opens and engagement rates. Often in a bid to quickly grow their lists, marketers end up committing the grave mistake of buying email lists. Purchasing an email list is akin to sowing the seeds for a lousy email reputation. This is because of the following reasons:
- The practice of buying email lists is non-compliant with several anti-spam laws like the European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, and the CAN-SPAM Act, to name a few.
- The majority of email addresses mentioned in a list that is up for sale are either invalid or counterfeit. As a result, when you try to send messages to them, invariably, most of your emails will get bounced, triggering multiple spam filters in its wake. This is enough to hamper your IP reputation and get yourself blacklisted.
- Let’s assume that the list you bought actually has legit email addresses. Even then, you won’t be doing your email sender reputation a favor. While legitimate, these contacts have no idea about you or your business. So, when you reach out to them without any prior context, and more importantly, without their consent, you’re basically inviting them to flag you as spam.
If you want to improve your sender reputation and deliverability, you must focus on building a list that has engaged and quality prospects. Remember- quality over quantity. Anyday.
- Maintain Your IP Credibility
Even if your email content is compliant with all the prevalent anti-spam laws, it can still draw the ire of spam filters if your IP credibility is unsubstantiated. Most ISPs harbor a very slim tolerance for spam messages, and if your IP credibility is not up to the mark, your email sender reputation is destined to suffer.
Fortunately, there are certain practices in place that can help you consolidate your IP credibility. A few of them have been listed below:
- Have separate servers in place for your business transaction and marketing emails. Marketing email addresses are typically synonymous with high volume sending, which puts them under a fair degree of scrutiny as it is. Using the same server to send out more emails is, hence, frowned upon. By using separate servers for both, not only are you reducing the volume of the emails being sent but also increasing the IP reputation of either in the process.
- Inspect your servers for malware infections and eliminate them at the earliest. If left unchecked, such malware can hijack your servers, allowing cybercriminals to send out malicious spam messages using them. In turn, this greatly damages your IP reputation.
- If you’re using a private proxy server, ensure you have implemented authentication for the same.
- An excellent way to improve your IP reputation is to set up SSL/TLS certificates. This is because apart from encrypting the information sent over the internet, these digital certificates also provide identity assurance.
- The practice of IP warming goes a long way towards consolidating your IP credibility too. Find all about it here.
Build Your Domain Reputation
Along with consolidating your IP reputation, it is vital that you protect your domain reputation too. To authenticate your email domains, you can use Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). SPF contains all the authenticated IPs that have the license to send emails using your domain. On the other hand, the DKIM signature, when added to your emails, helps your recipients verify that the message was indeed sent by you and hasn’t been tampered with along the process. These authentication measures go a long way towards enhancing your email sender reputation.
Encourage Your Subscribers to Whitelist You
Few things boost your email sender reputation as much as when subscribers whitelist you. But, the chances are that they’re not going to do so on their own; you’ve to nudge them in that direction gently. Most brands use their welcome emails to request their subscribers to whitelist them. Others add it as an afterthought in their newsletters. Whatever path you choose, do ensure that you keep subtly prompting them every now and then.
Engage Your Recipients With Targeted Content
An overwhelming number of bad email sender reputation cases can be traced back to low engagement rates. Gone are the days when mass mailing was your best bet at gaining visibility. In the current scheme of things, you can only grab your customers’ attention if you intercept them with relevant messages. Email list segmentation, which allows you to divide your subscribers into different segments such as likes and preferences, age, gender, location, ethnicity, occupation, and past purchasing history, is a great way of going about this. Alternatively, you can also employ preference centers wherein your recipients can explicitly specify what kind of communication they want from you (and its frequency). Marrying email acquisition using opt-ins to sending targeted content with the help of segmentation and preference centers can solidify your email sender reputation beyond your expectations.
Wrapping It Up
Your email marketing campaign can only create the ripple it deserves if it is ably complemented by your email sender reputation, and by extension, deliverability. At the end of the day, when you spend hours and hours finessing your campaigns, the least you want for it is to reach your recipients’ inboxes, right? Well, we hope our article helps you take the first step towards that direction.