Kevin George
August 1, 2023

How To Repair Your Email Sender Reputation – A Methodical Approach

Repair Your Email Sender Reputation

Return Path states that 83% of the time, your email doesn’t land in the recipient’s inbox; this can be attributed majorly to poor sender reputation.

A low sender score is not just another instance of a strategic mishap. To put it in perspective: a drop in score from 83 to 70 slashes your email delivery rate by 20%. So, if you have 10,000 subscribers, your email will have failed to reach 2000 of them. That’s a major hit to revenue generation.

Left unsorted, a low sender score could affect the reputation of your brand. Maybe you’re already seeing its effects in the form of low open rates, high bounce messages, and spam complaints. In fact, 45% of all emails sent are flagged as spam.

So, to prevent your email domain from getting blacklisted by an ISP, here’s a blow-by-blow approach to fixing your sender reputation.

Clean Up Your Email List

Sending emails to invalid or illegitimate addresses can increase the bounce rate. Consider using a dedicated email list verification tool. It will rid your email list of low-quality email addresses.

You can also use a real-time verification tool. So, if you’re entering an invalid email address, you will be shown an error message. You will then be asked to enter the correct email address.

Remove Spam Traps

Using double opt-in is one of the best ways to identify and remove potential spam traps in your emails. According to a Litmus poll, 46.5% of email marketers prefer using a double opt-in.

Usually, single opt-ins are the first choice of email marketers. This is because single opt-ins ensure faster signups. If the confirmation process takes too long, subscribers tend to bail out of the procedural hassle.

That said, single opt-ins might not be the efficacious salve you’re likely seeking for your deliverability woes. Choose a single opt-in only when your goal is to grow your email list quickly. But since you are trying to fix your sender reputation, double opt-in is the way to go.

Engage With The Engagers

Segment your audience list on the basis of your subscribers’ engagement rate. For that, take a look at the open rates and the clickthrough rates in your engagement stats.

Now, select the most engaging subscribers and send them your emails. Continual engagement will indicate to the recipient’s ISP that your emails are not spam.

Meanwhile, add your least engaging subscribers to the suppression list.

Gradually Increase Send Volume

Because you sent your emails only to the most engaged subscribers, you should see a spike in your engagement rate.

Now you may gradually increase the number of emails to send. If previously you were sending emails to those who hadn’t opened your email in the last 15 days, you can now increase the interval to 30 days, then 60, and so on.

Remember to monitor and analyze the results post-change.

Don’t Be Inconsistent

Send your emails consistently. If you send emails without rhyme or reason, subscribers will tend to lose interest and unsubscribe.

Don’t send too many emails at a time. Remember that the average user receives 121 emails per day. The temptation to overlook emails is quite understandable.

Likewise, don’t stagger the routine so much as to be forgotten by your subscribers.

The following is a breakdown of customer email frequency preferences according to research by Marketing Sherpa.

Source: Snove IO Labs

As you can see, only 15% of subscribers prefer receiving emails daily. On the other hand, 31% prefer receiving emails once a week.

Note that email frequency varies across industries. As per research by SendGrid, here are the average CTR and spam rates for the respective industries.

Source: Snove IO Labs

Disable High-Risk Automations

Because your goal is to fix your sender reputation, keeping lower-engagement flows enabled could be risky.

Take the win-back flow, for instance. Winbacks are typically directed toward an already disinterested audience base. It is highly unlikely that these recipients will open your message.

Deploy DMARC Authentication

Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance, or DMARC helps domain owners develop specific guidelines on email verification, prevent phishing attacks, and enable email recipients to identify authentic senders.

You can help recipients’ ISPs by telling them what to do when a particular email fails the DMARC check. This way, malicious emails sent using your address will be directed away from recipients’ inboxes.

You can enforce “none”, “quarantine”, or the “reject” policy for the same. DMARC’s “none” policy tells the ISP to do nothing with an email that failed the DMARC check. Such emails will usually end up in a recipient’s spam folder.

The “quarantine” policy tells the ISP to dump the email in the spam/junk folder.

Lastly, the “reject” policy will allow the ISP to reject all emails that didn’t pass the DMARC check.

In spite of the evident benefit of enforcing a strong DMARC policy, Socketlabs found that 59% of senders do not do so. At best, email senders tend to stick to the “none” policy.

Source: Glock Apps

As you can see, only 25% of email senders enforce the reject policy.

It is true that enabling “reject” might prevent even legitimate emails from passing through. But that’s an extremely rare event. Only 1 out of 10,000 legitimate emails stands to get rejected. So, when it comes to fixing your sender’s reputation, enforcing “reject” is advised.

A note of caution for senders who have the “none” policy enforced: don’t switch immediately from “none” to “reject”. You want to proceed one step at a time, monitoring signs of improved deliverability. Measure the impact of each policy and switch accordingly.

Wrapping Up

Given that email is still the biggest single source of revenue generation, having a good sender reputation is key. Your digital marketing strategy is not complete without it. In fact, checking your sender score should be the first step in your email marketing campaigns. Unless your sender reputation is robust, investing your time and money in creating compelling content might just be in vain.

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Kevin George is Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest growing custom email design and coding companies, and specializes in crafting professional email templates, PSD to HTML email conversion and free responsive HTML email templates in addition to providing email automation, campaign management, and data integration & migration services. He loves gadgets, bikes, and jazz, and he eats and breathes email marketing. He enjoys sharing his insights and thoughts on email marketing best practices on his blog.