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A Quick Guide to Better Sender Reputation (and Email Deliverability)

If you do email marketing, then you must understand that your sender reputation is crucial to the success of your business. How important is it? An illustrative example is probably the best option here.

Let’s say you’ve forgotten to take care of your sender reputation completely, and your email deliverability has dropped by 30%. In the simplest terms, this means that your profits will drop by 30% as well. Fewer people are getting your emails, so a smaller percentage of them will convert to something profitable.

Check your email reputation

In order to have better sender reputation, you need to know your email reputation. It measures the quality of your list. If you want to find out what ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and your receivers think of your emails, you can do that on several websites.

Simply input your IP address or domain and get a score. Once you know the score, you will know whether you need to change something. Some of the major websites you can use include SenderScore, Talos Reputation Center and TrustedSource.

In order to have better sender reputation, you need to know your overall email reputation.

Encourage your subscribers to reply to your emails

Have you ever noticed that a lot of email marketers encourage you to reply to their emails? There’s a reason for this. You see, ISPs look at the number of people who reply to your emails as a positive sign of engagement. With more people replying to your emails, your sender reputation improves.

Ever noticed top email marketers encourage you to reply to their emails? There's a cool reason that they do this.Click To Tweet

Don’t be shy about ending your emails with a request for engagement. Ask people to reply if they liked it, have a comment, or want to ask something.

As a bonus benefit: when people reply and give feedback, you learn more about what they want. They will tell you what their main problems are, what they would like to read more about, etc.

Email Marketing Tip #1: Make sure your reply to address doesn’t say “Do-Not-Reply@. This is not the way to get engagement. Use something welcoming.

Reduce complaints

When a subscriber marks your email as spam or moves it into junk – that’s a complaint. If you have a high complaint rate, your emails can be blocked and your sending reputation will be bad.

So, how can you reduce your complaint rate?

  • Send the type of content your subscribers have subscribed for;
  • Target the right subscribers, send emails to those who have interest in your content;
  • Send the emails at the right frequency;
  • Come up with an easy unsubscribe method, so you can avoid complaints.

Do note that you’ll never achieve a zero-complaint rate. This is because some people just abuse or misuse that spam button. You want to work diligently and consistently on decreasing it, but don’t try to aim for perfection – it doesn’t exist.

Say goodbye to unknown and inactive users

There’s one thing that all the top email marketers have in common. They all care about list hygiene. In fact, that’s why so many of them have moved their list to eMercury. They say they need all the list-hygiene tools and options we offer. 

Myth Says: List-hygiene is only for big email lists. Incorrect. It's never too early to start doing it.Click To Tweet

Unfortunately, many smaller email marketers don’t seem to care much about list hygiene. Some of them are completely unaware of its importance. Others are under the false assumption that they’re not “big enough” to care about list hygiene “yet”. But this is wrong.

It doesn’t matter how big your list is; If you lack list hygiene, your deliverability will suffer. And if your deliverability is poor, you’re getting much less out of your list. This is true whatever the size of your list.

avoid unknown email users

If you send an email to an email address that doesn’t exist, an “unknown user” will be generated. There’s no use in sending emails to non-existing users. Yet, there is plenty of potential harm to your reputation and it will add to your bounce rate. 

The best ways to avoid sending emails to unknown users are:

  • Track bounces and remove hard bounces;
  • Once someone subscribes, ask them to confirm their email address;
  • Analyze the SMTP error logs and track the feedback loops.

All of this is made easy with Emercury. We include all the list hygiene tools and features you need, in every account. Unlike other providers who charge extra for this, we believe list hygiene is a core feature, so we include it with every plan.

Email Marketing Tip #2: Segmenting out unengaged subscribers out of your list by using a 30,60,90 day engagement tool that pulls out non-openers or non-clickers or no-reply to’s, will increase your delivery as well as your open rate. This tool should be part of every provider at this point.

Balance the number of emails you send

The number of emails you send in seven days is called volume. It focuses on cadence, consistency and sending patterns. It can improve your sender reputation if you keep it balanced. For example, let’s say that on average, you send 200,000 emails in a week. Suddenly, it changes to 1 million emails per week. This can affect your sender reputation.

keep email volume consistent

Send emails at the right frequency

You shouldn’t send too many emails because certain people can label you a spammer. Even if you got their address in the most legitimate of ways. Yet, you shouldn’t send far too few emails, because your subscribers will lose interest.

How can you find the right number of emails you send per week or month to each subscriber? Well, the best and only way is to test it out carefully. That won’t be easy at all, and it will take time. You might make a lot of mistakes and lose some important subscribers.

However, if you need a simple guideline for now: just stick to sending one email per week. This is a good rule of thumb that works. You can even try two emails per week if your content is of high quality. If you don’t want to send emails that often, you can do it once per month. If you do send monthly, though, be sure that the quality more than makes up for this low frequency.

Avoid spam traps

If your list gets “infected” with spam traps, that’s one of the worst things that can happen to your deliverability. If your autoresponder sends emails to these addresses, you will be marked a spammer. The logic behind this is kind of simple. 

These are addresses that aren’t currently used by human beings, so (in theory) it’s impossible that any person could legitimately sign up for your list with such an address. According to this logic, if you’re sending emails to this address, then you must be a spammer.

There are two types of spam traps that affect sender reputation:

  • Pure spam traps – addresses created for the specific purpose of luring and catching spammers. They have never been used by a human being to send or receive emails.
  • Recycled spam traps – these addresses were owned by real individuals in the past. After a certain period of inactivity, they get converted into spam traps by the inbox provider.

There are two types of spam traps made by the ISPs that affect sender reputation

How do you protect yourself from these spam traps?

  • Never purchase email lists;
  • Track engagement for addresses in your list – remove disengaged subscribers;
  • Track and remove the hard bounces, they might become recycled spam traps in future;
  • The same goes for inactive users, they might be abandoned accounts that become spam later on;
  • Utilize double opt-ins (more on that below).

Use a double opt-in or confirmed opt-in

You might have noticed that many of the top marketers just ask for your email address, and then immediately start sending you emails. Many of them don’t seem to bother to verify if you’re truly interested. 

I mean some random friend could just enter your address, and you would get all of those emails. This is known as a single-opt-in method. Basically, this is an opt-in method that doesn’t ask for confirmation or verification.

If you look to the big marketers, you might say “well if that’s how they do it, I should do it too!” What you don’t realize is that there is a reason why they can “get away with it”. There are a lot of tricks they use behind the scenes so that they can get away with using single-opt-in methods. 

Some of them might actually only use that single-opt-in for very specific traffic

All you know is that you came to their website, put in their address and became a subscriber. What you might not know is that they utilize technology where the single-opt-in form is only shown to longtime visitors and re-targeted traffic. That same website shows a double-opt-in form to “cold traffic”, that is people who come to the website for the first time.

Others might use very intelligent filtering methods after you sign-up

Some marketers build very complex automation systems that actively track the engagement of single-opt-in subscribers. If a person subscribes to a list, the system tracks their behavior. The system decides if the person is a valid lead based on their engagement. If it decides that the subscriber doesn’t show signs of engagement, it removes them from the list. 

This is a cool advanced strategy where you get the benefits of single-opt-in, that is you get more subscribers. But at the same time, you remove much of the downsides. You don’t end up sending too many emails to a person who isn’t interested. 

keep your marketing simple

If you’re just starting out, keep it simple

While it sounds kinda fun that you can use such complex strategies to “get away with single opt-in”, you might want to reserve these cool tricks for later on. Start off with double-opt-in as your default method. Then, over time, as you create many different lists and sources of traffic, you can start experimenting with single-opt-in. Just be careful and track how it impacts your reputation and deliverability.

Email Marketing Tip #3: When you send out your thank you email on a subscription add a link that you know your subscribers will want to click. This gets the engagement going right off the bat. They signed up for your list and you provide them with some value right away. Maybe its a link to a video or maybe its a link to a blog post or maybe its a link to confirm their email address. As long as they clicking its good engagement.

Consider a higher-quality ESP

The quickest way to improve your sender reputation is to change your ESP. This is especially true if you move to a quality email provider like Emercury who cares about deliverability. You’d be surprised, but most ESPs don’t do much to help you with your reputation or deliverability. We provide a delivery analyst with every account included in your plan. That’s right, your own delivery analyst to help you along the way.

Emercury is different, we’re actually kind of “obsessed” with email reputation and deliverability. In fact, each of our plans includes all of the features you need to track and improve your reputation. Many ESPs charge your extra for these things. We believe every user should be properly equipped to maintain the flawless reputation and do easy list hygiene.

Consider giving us a try today. We have one of the most generous free plans on the planet. It includes (almost) all of the features that come with a pro plan. I don’t think anyone lets you use so many advanced features in a free plan. You probably want to lock in your forever-free plan today before we change our minds.

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