An email has been around for a long time and, without any hesitation, can be called one of the oldest means of online communication. Yet, it remains popular to this day. According to the stats, there are already over 1.5 billion active Gmail users around the world. And there are even more users who choose other email service providers. All in all, there are more than 4 billion people who have email accounts and actively use them for personal and professional communication.
What does this mean in terms of marketing?
Basically, a huge number of businesses’ target audiences that use email for communication explains the fact that 87% of companies are still using email marketing as one of the primary channels for promoting their products and services. According to the Content Marketing Institute report, email is the second most trending channel for distributing marketing content following social media.
If your brand is also using email providers to complement your overall marketing strategy, that’s great. It means that you are not missing out on any opportunities to connect with your existing customers and prospects. But do you believe that you are using your marketing emails to the fullest? Or, maybe, you feel like a big part of your email marketing efforts is going in vain, and your messages don’t reach the recipients?
If you answer yes, the chances are that you have issues with your email sender reputation. A poor email reputation score can mean that when you send messages to your recipients, there is a high chance that these messages will get into a spam folder. Of course, this can be devastating for your business. But Folderly has a ready-made solution for you! Read on to find out what sender reputation is and what you can do in order to keep it high.
What Is Sender Reputation?
In a nutshell, an email sender score is a common metric used to assess and track the reputation of each particular email sender. The reputation of email senders is being linked to their IP addresses. And pretty much all email providers use this metric in order to identify spammers in advance and, thus, reduce the spam complaint rate.
The IP reputation score is being identified based on a number of factors, including:
- Quality of contacts;
- Quality of content;
- Engagement levels of other emails that were sent previously from your IP address, etc.
Based on these factors, mailbox providers can identify whether you are a legitimate sender and then define whether your emails should reach recipients’ inboxes or not.
From the email marketing perspective, a poor sender reputation score can mean lower email deliverability rates, a larger number of spam complaints, higher unsubscribe rates, and, as a result, loss of potential customers and profit. Therefore, every email marketer should keep an eye on this metric in order to ensure the success of their email campaigns.
What can you do to prevent a decrease in your sender reputation score? First and foremost, every email sender should recognize that simply hitting the “send” button isn’t enough to deliver your message, especially if we are talking about marketing messages. There is a wide range of things you need to take care of in order to create a winning campaign. This includes creating high-quality content, checking your contacts’ addresses, and avoiding other common mistakes that can harm your domain reputation.
How to Check Your IP Sender Reputation
Now that you know what an IP reputation is, it is natural to wonder how you can check your own score. The reason why you have to do this is that you might have affected your score negatively by accident, even without realizing it.
Here is a thing. Even if you are absolutely positive that the emails you send are legit, there is no guarantee that you have never gotten into spam traps yourself and never unknowingly sent messages that looked spammy to users. Therefore, the only way you can be 100% confident in your sending reputation is if you check it regularly.
So, how can you do this? Unfortunately, there are not too many tools that can help you double-check your email sender reputation. But, there are at least a few options.
1. Sender Score by Return Path
Return Path is one of the leaders in the field of email deliverability. The company has been around since 1999 and has long gained the trust of marketers and businesses across all verticals. To help brands craft better campaigns, Return Path has created a free tool that enables them to assess their reputation scores with ease.
To use the tool, you should go to senderscore.org and simply paste your IP address in a relevant box. Then, the tool will carefully analyze your IP against a range of factors and express your sender score as a number between 0 and 100, where 100 is the highest (best) score.
After using this tool, you will have a better idea of what your sending reputation looks like at this point and will be able to identify the necessary steps for improving it.
2. Talos IP and Domain Reputation Center by Cisco
Another cool tool that you can leverage for defining your IP reputation was designed by Cisco. Just like the previous tool, this one is available to everyone free of charge. And it also allows you to calculate your current sender score based on your IP address.
To use the tool, you need to visit the Talos website. Once there, you will be asked to provide your IP address for the tool to analyze your score. Unlike Sender Score by Return Path, this tool indicates your score not in numbers but according to three categories - good, neutral, and poor.
A big benefit of this tool is that it allows you to look up additional information linked to your IP. You can request data concerning how many recipients have received your emails, your sending volume history, etc.
3. Postmaster Tools by Google
Google is known for the high quality of its tools, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see Google Postmaster Tools in the list of the best tools to check your reputation scores. So, if you are looking for a way to assess and improve your email reputation, rest assured that this tool will help you make each email campaign a success.
There is no need to explain why this particular tool is so good to use for your email marketing undertakings. According to reports, the majority of brands choose Gmail over other mailbox providers. If that’s the case, the only thing you need to know is that this tool was designed specifically to help marketers analyze their email performance within Gmail, route their messages easier, and never get into a spam folder again.
4. Barracuda Reputation System
Finally, the last tool many marketers rely on is Barracuda. The Barracuda Central Reputation Clock List (also referred to as BRBL) is a tool that allows users to analyze their domains or IPs for free in order to assess their reputation.
The tool works similarly to the previous options. Its biggest benefit is that it has been around since 2008. Throughout all these years, Barracuda was actively used by marketers and regular users from all over the world. Therefore, if you are looking for a time-tested tool, you may want to give Barracuda a try.
Of course, these are not all sender reputation analyzing tools available out there. But, these ones are among the most time-tested and trusted ones. Each of these tools can help you get an objective assessment of your current IP reputation and give you a chance to strengthen your email marketing strategy!
Keeping Your Sender Reputation Flawless: 6 Mistakes to Avoid
If after checking your IP address ranks you realize that not everything is so great with your reputation, you will likely want to find ways to improve the situation and give your email campaigns a chance for success. That’s natural. The only question is - where to start?
As was mentioned earlier, email inbox providers analyze a whole range of factors before defining your domain reputation. This basically means that you need to see the big picture and apply a wide range of activities in order to align your email campaigns with the algorithms of your email internet service provider.
To get on the right track, first and foremost, you have to stop sending the wrong signals to your mailbox provider by eliminating some of the most common mistakes. In this part of our guide, we are going to tell you what critical mistakes might be hurting your email reputation right now.
1. Buying Ready-Made Email Lists
No matter how simple and wise it seems, buying email lists is never a good idea. On the one hand, using purchased lists is an easy and quick way to get new subscribers. But, on the other hand, it can have huge damage to your IP reputation.
In order to have a good reputation and ensure a high deliverability rate, it is crucial that users engage with the emails you send. This means that they have to actually open it. However, when you purchase lists from data suppliers, eventually, you will be sending your emails to people who didn’t want to see them in the first place. Naturally, these people will not want to engage with your emails. So, this can result in worse inbox placement, sky-rocketing unsubscribe rate, and, respectively, a poorer ranking within your service provider.
Eventually, using purchased email lists can mean receiving more spam complaints. Every complaint is a signal to the internet service providers that recipients don’t trust you. For businesses, linking such complaints to their IP addresses can mean that all their marketing messages will go directly to the spam folder. As a result, a poor sender score and poor outcomes for your email marketing campaigns.
2. Storing Misspelled Email Addresses
Another mistake that can harm the reputation of your IP address is sending emails to unknown users. If your unknown user rate is high, the mail server you are using can mark your emails as spam. And, of course, it will hurt your email delivery rate too. Thus, you have to be very careful with invalid email addresses on your list.
According to stats, an average of 80% of invalid contact info is a result of human error. Thus, collecting a long list of misspelled addresses on your list is easy. But, if you want to boost the results of your email campaigns, you have to minimize the amount of invalid data.
If you don’t double-check the validity of your contacts, your emails will bounce back at you. Of course, this will affect your reputation. But, there are a few tricks to help you avoid this.
The first option you have is to use a reliable email verification tool. With its help, you will be able to upload bulk email addresses and check that there are no typos or misspellings in them.
Often misspellings can occur not on your side. Sometimes, it is a user himself who makes a typo in his email address when subscribing. This happens a lot, especially when users use a mobile device while subscribing. But, there is a way to fix this as well. To get rid of invalid addresses on your email list, you can set up a double opt-in authentification for newly-coming subscribers. This type of authentification requires users to click a link sent to their email in order to confirm their subscription. This way, you can keep your list free of misspelled data and, thus, boost your account’s credibility in the eyes of your mailbox provider.
3. Not Paying Attention to the Content Quality
As was mentioned earlier, the quality of the content you deliver also matters to email inbox providers. So, the next mistake you want to avoid is compromising the quality for quantity.
The truth is that email campaigns that deliver poor-quality content are doomed to fail. The quality of your content influences literally everything, including your email delivery and engagement rates. And it affects the reputation of your IP address too!
In case you are wondering how it works, let us give you a small explanation. We’ve already mentioned how users’ complaints affect your reputation. Now, one more thing you have to know is that poor-quality content can just give them another reason to complain. Therefore, it is crucial that you strive for the best quality at all times.
To ensure the best quality for easier email delivery, you should follow these rules:
- Never send emails without previewing them first;
- Don’t be too intrusive and salesy;
- Avoid stuffing your emails with spam words;
- Don’t use bait;
- Carefully test all links you include in emails;
- Optimize your messages for mobile users;
- Make sure your content is readable and well-structured;
- Always deliver value with your emails.
By following these simple rules, you should be able to show your credibility to inbox providers and keep your reputation good.
4. Leaving Spam Traps on Your List
Every spam trap hits your reputation hard.
Generally, you can divide spam traps into two categories:
- Pristine spam traps - email addresses that were created by blacklist organizers or ESPs and are posted all over the web. Typically, such traps can get on your email list through email harvesting or scrapping.
- Recycled spam traps - addresses that used to be real but were abandoned by a user and recycled by ESPs.
What’s so bad about these traps on your email list? The biggest problem is that the consequences can be much more serious than simple spam filtering. Instead of putting your emails under spam filters, these traps can lead you directly to getting blacklisted. Thus, if you don’t want your mail server to put you on a black list, you should carefully validate all addresses on your list to ensure that there are no spam traps.
5. Not Cleaning Your List
Another big mistake you want to avoid in order to keep your IP address reputation flawless is not cleaning your email list. How many duplicated / multiple email addresses do you have on your list? Or is there any outdated data that you keep?
If you can’t say confidently that your email list is 100% free of mistakes, old data, multiple email addresses, and other types of invalid information, the chances are that this is the reason why your sender’s rating is going down.
One thing you have to remember is that every invalid address holds a potential risk that your emails will bounce right back at you. As was mentioned earlier, this can damage your reputation.
The only way to prevent possible issues is to clean your list. And this is something you have to do on a regular basis. Ideally, for marketing purposes, you should clean your email list at least once in a quarter or even more often if you are scrapping emails on a regular basis. To get on the right track, find a reliable email cleaning tool that will let you automate the clean-up process.
Pro tip: Apart from cleaning your lists, you may also want to segment them. By doing so, you can boost your reputation even further and ensure higher deliverability. Respectively, this will have a positive effect on the results of your campaigns.
6. Being Inconsistent
Finally, there is one more mistake that can cost you your reputation. It is sending your emails inconsistently. In fact, the frequency of the emails you send is no less important than the content quality or other factors we’ve mentioned earlier.
The thing is that if you send your emails irregularly, every time when you do so, your email services provider will find it to be some suspicious activity.
Apart from this, sending emails too often can create recipients’ annoyment and generate more complaints, which also will affect your reputation. On the contrary, if you send out emails too little, you can miss out on a wide range of sales opportunities.
With all this being said, we should conclude that every brand should find a perfect email frequency that works for it. Once you find what feels right for you, be sure to create your own email campaign calendar and stick to it.
If you schedule your campaigns the right way, you will never miss a valuable opportunity and, at the same time, will not harm your reputation. So, don’t neglect this tip if you want to ensure success!
The Bottom Line
Every experienced marketer should know that a good sender reputation has a huge impact on the success of your email campaigns. If you do nothing to keep up a high reputation score, this can lead to a variety of issues. Most importantly, this can mean that all the time and effort you put into creating a winning campaign will go in vain just because your message doesn’t get into a recipient’s inbox. This can result in the loss of revenue and make you do double the work. But, this can be avoided!
After reading our guide, you should be able to recognize the common mistakes you used to make in your campaigns before and avoid making them again. Use the tips and hacks from this article to improve your sender reputation right now and start getting better outcomes from your campaigns.
Need more help? We have you covered! Even if you are still not sure about how to keep your sending reputation high, you can fully trust Folderly as it can help you achieve all your goals with ease! Folderly is the number one tool for email marketing that can help you take your email deliverability to the next level and boost your email sender score. Don’t hesitate to try it now and see for yourself.