Thomas Hajdukowicz

Thomas Hajdukowicz

Email marketers know a lot about emailing best practices: how to keep your contact list clean, why you shouldn’t purchase third party data, how to design emails that will land in the inbox… after all, deliverability is their job. But do you know why you do all of this? You should know that not following these unspoken rules and best practices might have an impact on your deliverability. But how? The answer is simple: because of your sender reputation.

Your reputation, the most precious thing in this harsh digital word

You have to cherish, nurture and protect your sender reputation. Because in the digital world, just like in this strange world that is real life, your actions have an impact on how others see you. Don’t let yourself think that your actions have zero consequences. On the contrary! Just like you wouldn’t casually scream to people instead of talking to them, nor would you cover the walls of your neighborhood with advertising posters for your company, you shouldn’t spam people and you should always follow email best practice. Your sender reputation is on the line.

So first, what is your sender reputation? Well, as the name indicates, it’s the reputation associated with your sender behavior. To be more precise, it’s about the reputation of your IP addresses and domain names. To help you know your reputation most email service providers (ESPs) have partnered with different tracking services, so you can check said reputation directly in your dashboard. If your ESP doesn’t offer this service, you can easily hop on SenderScore.org, ReputationAuthority or Senderbase.org (to name a few) to find out your score. These associations are well-known advocates in the fight against spam and are frequently used by ISPs, webmails and ESPs to have visibility on the value of a domain name or an IP address.

The reputation is calculated based on a number of parameters: your sending history, the number of spam complaints associated with your domain name, the number of spam traps your emails hit, the different authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC…) you set, if your WHOIS is public and correctly filled, etc.

That’s a lot to take into account and it seems a bit of a bother to comply… how exactly will my sender reputation impact my campaigns?

I can’t believe you’re asking such an obvious question. It’s in the name of the concept itself: Sender Reputation! If your reputation is poor (in any domain of life, actually), your emails won’t land in the inboxes of your recipients.

Firstly, because the sender reputation is based on your sending behavior and on how you set your emailing strategy. If you don’t follow email best practice, you are using purchased contact lists or you use a webmail address as your sending address, the chances are your sender reputation will be low. Therefore, your emails won’t reach the inbox.

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Second, as said earlier, webmails, ISPs and ESPs are looking at your sender reputation. The worse case scenario is that it’s more likely that your emails won’t be processed by the email advocates. With this in mind, you’ll see a vicious circle forming: bad sender behavior leads to bad reputation; with a bad reputation, unless you take drastic action, the chances are your stats won’t improve, which will worsen your sender reputation… and you see the picture.

OK, I understand. What should I do to keep my sender reputation on top?

Well actually, all you have to do is simply follow the best practices of emailing: be sure that all your contacts have opted-in (or even better: double opted-in), clean your lists after you send a campaign, have the right protocols in place… These are all basic and simple actions that will greatly help you improve your sender reputation and in the end, your deliverability rating. You’ll find everything you need to know on this topic in our guide.

Now, what should you do if you (unfortunately) have a poor sender reputation? Well, you will need time and patience.

  • The first steps are related to the setting of your sender address. Make sure to be identified as a legitimate sender with a public WHOIS and with the SPF and DKIM protocols properly set.
  • Now, since your reputation is already low, you will need to thoroughly clean your lists. Remove all the inactive contacts (those who haven’t interacted with your emails for in the last 3 to 6 months) and send reengagement emails to your remaining contacts. Incentivizing them to keep receiving your emails or to unsubscribe. This way, you’re sure to only keep engaged contacts, who will be more willing to open, read and click your messages.
  • Then, start a new emailing strategy. It might take some time: you might expect ESPs to slow down your sending speed; you might not be able to send as many emails as you’d like at once. But it’s part of the game. This way, all the email advocates can check and be sure that your emails are legitimate.
  • Finally, you’ll also have to get in touch with the ISPs, webmails and associations who’ve blacklisted your DNS or IP to get it cleared. They might need evidence of your legitimacy and that you’re not a spammer. Good sending stats and improving results might help.

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As usual, it’s all about emailing with common sense and following best practice. Because, your sender reputation is one of the most valuable things you have as an email marketer.

Your sender reputation has been low but now you’ve improved it? Tell us how you faced the challenge on Twitter.