What Is Email Reputation And How To Improve Deliverability?

Working on improving email reputation is probably one of the best things you can do in order to get more out of your email campaigns.

Unfortunately, many of us are too busy tweaking our subject lines and content. We often forget that there are other crucial factors that contribute to our email marketing success.

Email reputation is one of the most important and most overlooked factors among email marketers.

The importance of your email reputation

Some studies show that up to 20% of all emails end up in spam folders or simply get dropped, undelivered or blocked. In the past, the major factor for low deliverability was your content. If your emails weren’t getting delivered, it was probably because of the content of your emails. Nowadays however only 23% of deliverability issues are because of the content. The other 77% are due to the reputation of the sender.

email reputation

What is your reputation

When we talk about your email reputation, we’re talking about a few different things. This includes your domain reputation, your IP reputation, and your email address reputation. All three of these factor into your overall reputation as an email marketer. However, as I’ll explain, you don’t always control (or need to control) all three.

Using an email service provider is easier

When you use a quality ESP to send your emails, you have fewer things to worry about. If you’re just starting out, you only need to worry about your sender address reputation. The emails themselves will come from the domain and IP of your ESP. So those are two things you don’t have to worry about.

If you become more advanced, you may choose to configure the ESP to use a custom sender domain. This way the emails can come from your own sender domain. This is a little better for branding purposes. However, this will put additional responsibility on you as well. You will now have to worry about the sender domain reputation.

Sending email from your own server is a lot more complex

When you get a cheap hosting plan, you also get the ability to send emails from “your hosting server“. At a quick glance, it seems quite convenient. Why not just send emails for free from the same server that hosts your website?

As it turns out, there are a ton of issues with sending emails from your own server. The first is the fact that you don’t actually own your IP. If you’re using a cheap hosting plan, you’re sharing that IP with many other users.

If any of your “roommates” does something nefarious on the internet, the IP gets blacklisted. You may do everything right, and still have your emails end up in spam folders. This will happen because “your” sender IP is blacklisted, through no fault of your own.

So why not just upgrade to a more expensive hosting plan?

If you upgrade to a more expensive plan, you get a dedicated IP. So that solves all of your problems, right? Wrong! No web host has a guarantee against hacking. Unless you’re an expert at security, your hosting server will get hacked eventually. Perhaps you forget to update one of your blogs to the latest version. Perhaps you get hacked due to a software vulnerability that’s brand new.

You will just wake up one day to find out that your server had been sending thousands of spam messages. Your IP address is blacklisted, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only way to prevent this is to hire a security expert to manage your security policies. But at this point you’re spending money you shouldn’t have to.

Isn’t it easier to just go for a dedicated email service provider and send emails that way? Let someone else worry about security.

Improving your email reputation

Choosing to let an ESP handle your sending is easier, and you have less to worry about. Choosing to send emails from your own server is a lot more complex and risky. Let’s look at improving your reputation, and how it varies in different scenarios.

Blacklist status

If you choose the difficult path, you need to track your IP reputation. Try to regularly check if your IP address or domain are on any blacklist databases. You get added to a blacklist if you’ve emailed at a spam trap or ISPs see you as an offender. Your emails will be directed to spam folders or blocked.

Email bounce rate

Be aware of things to look for that show signs of bad data quality. Every time you send an email to an address that doesn’t exist you experience a “bounce”. It is normal to have at least some of your emails bounce. Many people change their email addresses. You should try to keep the bounce rate as low as possible. Try to keep it between 0.5% and 1.5%. If you find it going above these numbers it may be time to clean your lists. High Bounces are signs of bad data quality and should always be cleaned before mailing to ensure your email reputation doesn’t get affected.

Your bounce rate will depend on several things

If you only send your list an email every 3 months, a lot of people might have changed their address in the meantime. If you send emails more frequently, you also get the chance to “clean up” your list more often.

Let’s say that you send a weekly email. You only have to purge those email addresses that had a bounce during that week. On the other hand, you shouldn’t send emails too often, so it is definitely a balancing act.

If you check the email addresses and update them more often you will be able to maintain a good reputation. If you choose to do things the hard way, you will need to do this manually. With an ESP this is largely taken care of.

Also, note that this is industry specific. For example, consumers change their email addresses more often than B-2-B customers.

Rate of spam complaints

This is much worse than getting unsubscribes. It shows that your content is completely irrelevant to your subscribers. The spam button gives a direct message to the ISPs that your email is unnecessary.

email reputation

If you’re sending emails yourself, diagnosis can be quite complex. It will often involve a lot of manual work. Your host may or may not help you with finding out who marked your emails as spam. You will be in a race with time to remove these people from your list. If your self-hosted software keeps sending these people emails, you will keep getting marked as a spammer, and your reputation will spiral out of control.

The reputation of your email provider

Your IP address determines your reputation, but if you’re working with an ESP your reputation also depends on their reputation. This is why it is important to choose an ESP that’s dedicated to reputation. Emercury is obviously a great choice for you. Give our free trial a go, you might just fall in love with all of the features we have for you.


Do you want a great way to measure you list quality? Just look at your unsubscribes. If the content you send is relevant for your subscribers you will have less unsubscribes. But, if you’re targeting the wrong audience, be prepared for a high unsubscribe rate. This is especially true if you get people on the list using false promises.

Maintaining your email reputation

email reputation

Here are a few tips that might help you maintain your good reputation.

  • Find the right time to send emails – There is no “ideal” number of emails to send per week or per month. It varies by industry, type of offer, type of list etc… You will just have to experiment. As a starting guideline, you might consider that most marketers will send a promotional email about once a week.
  • Find the reason why people are complaining about your emails – you need to know why people don’t want to pay attention to your content. If you know your mistakes it will be easier for you to correct them. Usually, people complain about the frequency and the content, the subject line and the mismatch between the frequency and the content.
  • Target your subscribers – don’t think about the number of your subscribers, but think about how many of them actually want and need your emails. Also, get to know the people – investigate what would interest them the most and the ways to present your product to them. After you do this, you will slowly, but surely reach your goal.


Worrying about your email reputation is hard. Why not make it easy?

Consider giving Emercury a try. We’re obsessed with email reputation, so you don’t have to be. We’re also very intent on helping you succeed. Contact us today for a free consultation & email strategy or check out our features before you contact us.

Happy mailing everyone and of course of you like the article please share it with others 😉 

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