Every email marketer dreads the spam folder, it is a place where emails go to die… literally!! Did you know, Spam accounts for 14.5 billion messages globally per day. Because of which, ISPs have tightened their rules for classifying possible incoming emails as spam, making it all the more difficult for email marketers. Sender reputation is one of the most important factors among several contributing to the spam score calculated by ISPs.
And that it why it is critical to improve the sender reputation.
Though having a good sender reputation is paramount, email marketers tend to direct their focus totally towards Email Open Rates and Click Through Rates. This results in long term damage as all other KPI’s keep dropping because of the email either not being delivered or ending up in the spam folder, which can be a result of a not so good sender score or sender reputation
What is Sender Reputation?
Sender Reputation can be translated into what is called a sender score, attributed to your email sending domain and/or the IP pointing to the domain.
Return Path says, A poor sender reputation is the reason 83% of the times for an email not being delivered to a valid email address
Different ISP’s have their own complex algorithms that take into account the historical emailing data of a domain or an IP comprising of the volume of emails sent, emails marked or reported as spam, email bounces etc. among other data points.
This process was brought into place to ensure that unsolicited marketing spam can be systematically be sent into the spam folder. This helps in preventing important legitimate emails from being drowned in an inbox filled with spam.
What data points go into calculating Sender Reputation?
Internet Service Providers have their own algorithms for calculating the sender score. But the core elements are common even though the weightage given by the algorithms might be different for each of the ESPs.
The core data points that make up or bring down the sender score are:
- Engagement of the recipient with the emails
- Emails marked as spam or spam complaints by recipients
- Reputation of the sender IP
- Email sending volume and frequency
- Previous email sending history
- Spam score of the email content itself
This isn’t an all-inclusive list of parameters used for calculating the sender reputation, and each of the ISP’s have evolved their algorithms to take into account many other parameters for the score..
How do I check my sender score?
There are a number of tools out there in the market that allow you to check your sender score, Return Path is among the most reliable ones. Obviously, these are projects based on the available data and different tools might come up with different scores. The ideal method is to use a few tools to get the score and then find the average to understand where you stand. The sender score may not change overnight but it is a good idea to check your sender reputation at regular intervals to capture a drop at the right time.
A dropping Open rate, click-through rate etc. might be the indicators of your sender score going down.
How to make your Sender Reputation better?
As it is clear that there are a number of parameters contributing to the sender score, there isn’t a silver bullet or a quick fix for success. A few areas have to be worked on simultaneously to improve the sender reputation. The whole process takes both time and sustained dedicated effort over a period of time to start seeing results or improvement. You have to work on the major components given below to improve the sender reputation. The list is neither all inclusive nor arranged in the order of priority.
IP Reputation and Domain History
The first step would be to take stock of things and figure out where you stand with respect to the sender reputation of the domain and IP. Based on what you find, you would have to decide between salvaging the existing domain or starting fresh. If you are just starting out then it would mean your domain would hardly have a sender score. And most of the seasoned professional email marketers would recommend not using your primary domain to send out emails. Better to get the cheaper .net, .info domains for your email marketing needs as these are always expendable unlike your primary domain.
Obviously, you can still use an existing domain with a bad sender score, but it would take some time and planned effort to start seeing incremental improvements.
Volume and Frequency
You might come across as a spammer if you send out a sudden blast of emails, making your emails end up in the spam folder. Now if you are using a relatively new domain, then it is advised to send out a small amount of emails at regular intervals to people that you are confident of engaging with your email and prime your domain/IP. Then you slowly increment the number of emails you send to reach higher volumes. With a better sender score you can possibly send more emails
Irrespective of how good your sender reputation is, your email campaigns can still end up in the spam folder, if the email content is spammy or perceived as spammy by the ISPs. Always head over to tools like Mail Tester or a built-in tester that your emailing software might have, to validate the spam score for your email content. There a number of spam words to avoid in emails that you need to be careful about while putting together the content for the email. The engagement rate is also very important so it make sense to segment your target audience and send out content that is very personalized to the recipient, which in turn drives higher engagement rates.
Bounces are a big factor contributing to the sender score and also accrues over time against your sender reputation. There are two type of bounces; soft bounce and hard bounce that you need to be mindful of. Hard bounces are the ones where the email address does-not exist, and there is no way of delivering to the said email address. A soft bounce on the other hand, is the temporary and solvable inability to deliver the email to the email address in question, because of a full mailbox, temporary issue with the email server, size of the email/attachment larger than the permissible limit of the recipient’s email server.
It becomes essential to eliminate the bounces as much as possible, to avoid any damage to your sender reputation. And an email validation tool like the Antideo API helps in validating emails in real time, right at the source of entry, so that invalid emails do not enter your list in the first place.
So, as you can see, a number of factors come together to make up your sender reputation. You have to ensure that you cover the right amount of email volume at regular intervals, avoid content with high spam score or spam keywords, and remove invalid emails to maintain a clean list.
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