Sender Reputation In Email Marketing: Here’s What You Should Know

sender reputation in email marketing Here’s what you should know

Last Updated on April 23, 2022 by MarketerSprout

There is a common issue that affects everyone who emails in large quantities: sender reputation.

A company called “Return Path” provides data on this issue from over 60 million email inboxes. They say that 83% of deliverability problems are caused by poor sender reputation. 

When an email hits a server, the email provider uses Return Path’s “Sender Score” to determine where to send the email.

They consider factors such as the IP address, mx record, domain name, spf record, etc. This is one more argument against manually emailing or using automated mass emailing scripts on your own server.

This poses a problem for those that will mass email from a shared IP address, since you can be penalized for an issue unrelated to what you’ve even done.

There are over 60 metrics that combine to make your “Sender Score”. It’s probably a more sophisticated scoring system than the FICO system for calculating your credit scores, but it is similar to a credit score. 

Think about it like you would with the Google Algorithm.

If you’re trying to rank a website for certain keywords, you already know that Google uses hundreds of different signals, maybe even thousands for all we know, and that predicts where you end up in the search results. The same is true when it comes to email.

Maybe it’s not as many factors, signals, or metrics, but the basics are the same.

For Google, the most important factors are on-page optimization of Title tags, h1’s, h2s, etc., as well as backlinking to your site. In most cases, you only need to focus on a handful of things to be successful. 

The same is true for your Sender Reputation, or sender score. You can improve your score by focusing on a few different things. 

The three most important factors to be concerned with are: 

1. Complaints You Get through a Feedback Loop 

2. Hard Bounces, unknown users, permanently blocked email addresses. 

3. Spam traps, often a role based user like admin@domain or postmaster@domain or a stupid basic email like John@hotmail or john@yahoo.

Sender reputation is more important than the content inside the emails you send for several reasons. The content of the email can influence where it is sent, such as to junk, spam, or inbox, but sender reputation is what determines if the email is ever sent at all.

Dealing With Complaints and the Feedback Loop

One of the things that kills your sender reputation is FBL.

FBL is an acronym for what is called The Feedback Loop. It’s going to cause you problems as well. In fact it doesn’t matter who you are, what you email, whether you scrape a list or use double opt in methods to build your list, you will face problems with the FBL.

Not all email providers use a feedback loop, or I guess I should say not all email providers use a prominent external service for their feedback loop.

Even if they don’t use Return Path or other companies for sender score or sender reputation, they usually have their own internal spam filters along with spam rules set up.

The “spam” button on email services can be very tempting, but clicking it can have consequences.

It can hurt your domain name or IP address, or cause you to get banned by the platform you’re using. Here are some of the more prominent services that utilize a feedback loop:

  • AOL
  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • Earthlink
  • Fastmail
  • Hotmail
  • MailTrust (Rackspace)
  • TWC/Road Runner
  • Yahoo

Keep in mind you have companies like Yahoo that also host ATT, SbcGlobal, Bellsouth emails that are tied into the Yahoo Feedback Loop.

So what are your options here?

It’s inevitable that some emails will go unread even by the most diligent senders.

There’s no surefire way to prevent this from happening, but one thing you can do to lessen the chances is to make your unsubscribe button very clear and conspicuous.

This may not be ideal from a conversions standpoint, but it’s worth considering in the long run.

Having more unsubscribes early on is preferable to having domain and sender reputation issues down the road that impact conversions. So make your unsubscribe button easy to locate and click.

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