6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Billions of emails get sent every day. Did you know that 45% of those emails are spam?

With nearly half of the emails circulating being unwanted or otherwise malicious, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) remain on high alert when protecting their inbox owners.

When you send an email, your recipient’s ISP will determine if you’re a trustworthy sender. That means based on your past sending history and email content an ISP will decide if you’ll get the green light into the inbox or filter you off into the Spam folder.

You might be wondering what an ISP bases that decision on. In addition to several indicators, including its unique algorithms, every ISP will tabulate your sender reputation by considering numerous data points, including:

  • Sending domain reputation
  • IP reputation
  • Engagement metrics
  • Quality of the emails your IP is sending to
  • Bounce rate
  • Blocklist inclusion

While no single indicator will define your sender reputation and make or break your deliverability, it’s important to avoid poor sending practices and behavior that can affect your sender reputation.

Let’s explore six of the most common mistakes that can negatively impact your sender reputation.

1. Failing to maintain clean email databases

Are you working with old email lists? When’s the last time you verified your email databases? One year ago? Never?

Even if you followed best practices by only adding emails of the people who consented to hear from you, you could still very well have invalid, abandoned, or otherwise newly-unconsenting email addresses in your database.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Email verification will help you identify emails that are valid, safe for sending, valid but risky, or invalid. After knowing the status of your emails, you can then take the appropriate action to maintain a stronger and more reliable database – whether that means scrubbing the list of problematic emails, creating and disseminating a re-permission campaign, or keeping most of the emails on your lists, and more.

2. Not sending emails to permission-based email lists

What use is a bloated email list if half of the email addresses on it no longer consent to receive your emails? The short answer is that it doesn’t do your sender reputation or your deliverability rate any good. You need the consent of your recipients before you send them emails.

There are a few best practices that will help you achieve this:

  • Double-opt in at sign-up
  • Launching a re-permission campaign if your usually-active recipients haven’t been engaging with your emails
  • Making the option to unsubscribe as clear and easy as possible
  • Letting go of your unengaged subscribers

To grow your email lists effectively, take a look at these best practices.

3. Your email messages aren’t authenticated properly

You need to show an ISP you are who you say you are. You don’t need a spoofer or some other malicious actor pretending to be you by sending content that would hurt your brand.

To combat this deception, and to create a legitimate sending identity, email authentication is the way to go.

While SPF, DMARC, DKIM, and others are important, let’s take a closer look at how a DKIM signature (or lack thereof) can negatively impact your sender reputation.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

DKIM

Think of DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) as your digital signature as an email sender. It’s created via public-key encryption and will later reside in a hidden header of the email you’re sending.

Here is what a DKIM signature might look like:

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

When your recipient’s receiver gets your email, it will verify your DKIM signature to prove that this message from your domain name is authorized by you, and at the same time, the ISP will also check for other things like bad URLs, reputation, problematic or malicious content, and more.

To say that a DKIM signature carries significant weight when it comes to your domain reputation would be an understatement. Without it, your email is missing an important identification and reputation signifier. In short, a receiver can’t confirm the person who sent the message in the first place. An unauthenticated message is a suspicious message.

4. Sending email infrequently, too frequently, & inconsistently

You’ll want to take a close look at your email sending habits. For instance, how often are you sending marketing emails? Once in a blue moon? Or, are you sending too many emails?

Your recipients probably won’t be as excited about your brand as you are. So, if you bombard them with a ton of emails every month, you take the risk of annoying them – and possibly ending up on the brunt end of a spam complaint.

The same goes for consistency. Do your campaigns have a similar voice and style? Sending emails without the signature style your recipients expect and that appear to be from different senders can also inspire a user complaint.

Think of your email sending through the lens of Goldilocks. You’ll need to find your sending sweet spot and the frequency and consistency that’s “just right”.

5. Not listening to your recipients

One way or another, the email owners on your list will let you know how they really feel.

Remember, no means no. Your subscribers have many ways of showing you they’re not interested in receiving your emails. In addition to unsubscribing, they may refuse to engage (open, click-through, act in some way) with your email at all. They could also report you as Spam.

You may be thinking why in the world would a recipient who double-opted into hearing from you report you as spam? Well, there could be several reasons:

  • You’re sending them irrelevant or unexpected content they didn’t plan on receiving from you
  • You’re emailing them way too often
  • You’re not emailing them enough, and they’ve either forgotten about you or no longer care what your content is about
  • They’ve changed their mind, and no longer have a reason to know about your latest offers or updates
  • Any reason under the sun (humans are complex creatures, after all)

At the end of the day, you need to run a successful email marketing campaign. By closely scrutinizing your recipients’ behavior (engagement, complaints, and more), you’ll gain a strong sense of how they feel.

6. Failing to monitor the relevant metrics or take preemptive measures

A poor sender reputation (and, by extension, poor inbox placement), won’t heal itself. Getting your hands on the most relevant metrics can equip you to be as proactive as possible about monitoring them and creating a strategy to ameliorate any issues that might surface.

Email A/B testing

You deserve to know which version of your email campaign will fare the best when it reaches your recipient’s server. Email A/B testing can help you determine that.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

An in-depth way of checking your email campaigns before you send them is via Kickbox’s Email Precheck testing, where you can test for email client rendering and spam filter testing.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Here, you’ll be able to assess the risks of your emails landing in the spam folder. Feedback filters and instant spam scores will give you actionable information about what you can do to improve your email content, which can only help your deliverability in the end.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Inbox placement testing

ISPs won’t tell you where your emails land after they’ve been delivered. Maybe it’s the inbox, maybe it’s the spam or junk folder. Or, they could be in the Promotions or Social tabs (if we’re speaking about Gmail, for example). Either way, you need to know where your email will likely land.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

To optimize your email campaigns and maximize your ROI, inbox placement testing can give you that information. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot inbox problems and trends in your deliverability.

IP reputation & sending domain reputation monitoring

Your IP reputation and sending domain reputation are heavy hitters when it comes to impacting your sender reputation (and inbox placement).

You’ll also want to check out Google Postmaster Tools, where you’ll be able to track both your IP reputation and domain reputation.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Checking your domain reputation with Google Postmaster Tools, for instance, can reveal how high, medium, low, or bad your domain reputation might be.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Google Postmaster Tools defines each of those rankings like this:

To monitor data for your sends to Outlook.com and Hotmail, you’ll want to use Microsoft Smart Network Data Services (SNDS).

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Combining one of these tools or services with a suite of deliverability tools can have a positive effect on both your sender reputation and your inbox placement.

Blocklist monitoring

If you ever end up on a blocklist, you’ll want to be notified so that you can investigate to understand what might have happened and learn how it could impact your ability to deliver mail successfully. That’s because a blocklist sends a major red flag to some ISPs that you could be a spammer or some other malicious sender.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

If you have been blocklisted, a blocklist monitoring tool can notify you in real-time, and also provide you with the necessary steps to delist, depending on the particular blocklist you’re on (Invaluement, SpamCop, Spamhaus, Barracuda, and more).

Ready to monitor the top metrics with Kickbox so you land in the inbox?

With all of the time and effort it takes to produce a marketing email, you don’t want an ISP to deem you a spammer and then treat you like one, too (RIP, inbox placement).

If you want to stay in the good graces of your recipients’ ISPs, then you need to monitor the appropriate metrics, so you can take action as soon as a problem arises.

With Kickbox’s suite of deliverability tools, you’ll have access to a backstage view of the metrics that will help you keep your sender reputation (and deliverability) in check.

Our inbox testing, authentication monitoring, Email Pre-check, spam filter testing, blocklist monitoring tools and more will equip you with the data you need to do just that. And our team of deliverability consultants is also available any time you have a question or need clarification.

6 Mistakes That Can Affect Your Sender Reputation

Sign up and discover a deliverability team that will help you interpret your test results, guide you through the best practices to fix any issues, and strategize ways to improve your deliverability.

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