8 Mistakes That Can Damage Your Email Reputation Score

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Wanna know a secret? A deep dark secret that most marketing platforms won’t tell you about? Your email reputation score is the single most likely thing to destroy your potential profits and ensure your efforts go to waste.

And here’s another scary fact: most email providers don’t care if your email reputation suffers. Unless it gets to the point where they have to ban you for having a bad reputation, you won’t ever hear your provider talking about your reputation. So by the time they bring it up, it’s probably too late and their decision is final.

This is why it’s important to be proactive about your email reputation and understand that there is a hidden score that all the inbox providers assign for you. In this article I’m going to share the top 8 mistakes people make to ruin their score.

1) Choosing the wrong provider

Let me ask you a question: how much money does an email generate for you if it never reaches the subscriber’s inbox? Yes, that would be a grand total of zero profit and zero sales.

Here’s the scary fact though, if you’re using one of the more popular brand names to send your emails, odds are that many of your emails will fail to reach subscribers.

This is actually a surprise to a lot of people who assume that you’re paying a provider for email delivery. However, this is not the case. Most of them are email senders, and they only guarantee that they will send the email.

There is an unwritten rule that they never spell out. This hidden rule says “delivery and reputation are for you to worry about and we will never mention it until it’s too late and we’re informing you about a ban”.

This is very different with Emercury

We are all about deliverability and we will monitor and react to it in real time. We do this on top of all the tools, features and strategies that we provide to make sure you get and maintain peak deliverability.

In fact, this is actually one of the main reasons that people with huge lists move to Emercury all the time. The moment they learn that they’re losing out on a ton of money due to shoddy deliverability is the moment they decide to both move to a provider like Emercury and become more proactive about their reputation.

With that said, you don’t have to wait until you’re making millions off of email to start doing it right. You can at the very least grab yourself a free Emercury account, book a free demo with our team and finish reading the rest of this guide.

2) Being clueless about engagement

Here’s a funny thing that says a lot. If someone asked me if I could give a one-word answer to improving your email reputation, the one-word-answer would be “engagement”.

However, if people asked me how they could improve the profitability and conversion rates of their email campaigns, and if it was possible to reduce it to a single word, I would again answer “engagement”.

There is a reason that it works like this. Remember that inbox providers want to deliver “wanted email” to an inbox. And over years of experience they have kind of figured that the best sign that your emails are wanted is whether people engage with them.

This is because people engage with your emails when they trust you and find what you do useful and valuable. And guess what, that also happens to be the best way to sell stuff to people. Just build trust and demonstrate an ability to provide true value and see those profits soar.

The good news is that tracking engagement is simple

All you have to do is to pay attention to your open rates and your click-through rates. No, really it is that simple. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying getting peak engagement is super easy, you have to put in the work.

The good news is that unlike with other channels, the metrics to follow and analyze are the easy part. You don’t need a dashboard with 150 different metrics like with (for example) paid advertising. This is because open rates and clickthrough rates tell you everything you need to know about the engagement that your emails produce.

With that said, and with how simple it is – there is no excuse not to start tracking your engagement today. Especially since we make it really easy on Emercury. If you don’t have an account, be sure to at least grab yourself a forever-free account while we still give those out.

3) Selling too soon, or selling too much

Look, I get it, you’re building an email list in order to sell your products and/or services. But here is a paradox, if you sell too much, you end up making no sales.

A part of that is a direct consequence of overselling or selling too soon. That is, the act of overselling itself makes the email reader distrust you, and decreases the odds that they will buy from you. It also causes them to open less and less of your emails.

The other part is the indirect damage over time, in that overselling destroys your email reputation. That in turn ensures less people even get your emails in the first place.

And if that causes you to see a further reduction in sales, you might decide that you need to sell even harder, which destroys your reputation even further. I’m sure you can see how this can create a downward spiral.

So what is the solution?

While we talk about this in more depth in other guides and articles on this blog, let me summarize this in an easy and quick way. There are 2 major things that you want to focus on.

The first is to create an automated welcoming sequence that is mostly value driven. This will ensure that you get people engaged and accustomed to open and look forward to your emails. And then, make sure that you maintain this engagement level over time by implementing the correct ratio of value-driven and sales emails.

How do you do this? Just make sure that the majority of the emails that you send are informative in nature. These are emails where sales take a back seat.

Occasionally doing broadcasts with a special offer to drive sales is fine, and in fact, that’s how you will make a lot of your profit. However, notice the key word there being “occasional”.

If all of this sounds kind of vague, I can’t blame you. However, in order to provide you a more specific recommendation I would have to look at your specific newsletter, business model and so forth.

Consider that this is something that you get with some of the more popular plans on Emercury, as they are built around the idea of personalized human-centric service. If you want to get a sense for this experience, consider booking a free demo.

4) Not setting up your DKIM and SPF records

Let’s look at reputation from a different perspective for a moment. Let us try to put ourselves in the shoes of inbox providers for a second. The truth is that they do not have an easy job at all. In fact, they’ve been fighting spam for years.

The catch is that they need to eliminate unwanted email, without falsely filtering out email that their users do want to receive. And while the evolution of their formulas over the years is fascinating (at least to me), I will not bore you with the full history. Let me just share with you the combination that they arrived at, and still use today.

These days the inbox providers determine your overall reputation by looking at a combination that takes into account: your domain reputation + your content (engagement & feedback) + the IP reputation

If you’re paying close attention, you probably noticed something new to you at this point. That is you see that we mention something about domain and IP reputation. And you might even wonder what those are all about.

When a provider keeps track of reputation, it needs a “someone” to assign said reputation to

In the good old days that used to be the IP address of the server sending the emails.

Over time the providers realized that isn’t very smart as most marketers share an IP. So a bad actor could simply sign up for a service with good IPs and send bad stuff.

Alternatively, a bad actor could lower the reputation for everyone on that same IP, so they would all suffer at no fault of their own.

This is why over time the inbox providers decided to prioritize the sender domain as the primary way of identifying a sender.

Now, by default when you use an ESP, your emails are sent from one of their subdomains (such as xyz.emailprovider.net). However, this is just there in case you fail to set up your own custom sender domain and configure those SPF and DKIM records.

And these days any good ESP will recommend that you set up your own sender domain as soon as possible. This gives you a leg up over all the other marketers stuck on a default shared domain.

The good news is that setting up your custom sender domain is quite straightforward for an Emercury user. In fact it’s one of the first things in our onboarding process. And if you get stuck, our cheerful team is ready to help at any time.

Now, while “setting up DKIM and SPF” might sound scary, trust me, when you are with Emercury it is anything but. Give it a try and you will enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

5) Not asking people to look out for your emails

Now here is a fun and easy hack that can do wonders to improve your email reputation, yet most people don’t even use it. This is despite the fact that it is super easy to implement.

I want you to remember something. The inbox providers are looking to see whether people are going into their inbox and opening your emails, and how quickly. The longer it takes them to open your emails, the more likely it is that your emails are “unwanted”.

On the other hand, if the inbox owner rushes to their inbox to find your email and open it, this is a super-positive sign that impacts your reputation in a positive way.

And all you have to do is ask. If you’re asking people for their email in exchange for a lead magnet, just place a notice on the thank you page. Just tell them to go find the email in their inbox. It helps if you tell them what subject line to look for. You can also mention that if they do not see your email, they can look through the junk-folder and mark it “not-junk”.

The second part is especially important as some ISPs (Yahoo being quite notorious) quite often place emails from new email marketers in the junk folder. It doesn’t matter that you have never done anything wrong. In other words, they don’t have you start off from a neutral position, they have you start off from a negative assumption.

So if your new subscriber hurries to look for your email, finds it in the junk folder and clicks “not junk”, that helps a lot. It will speed up building your reputation quite a bit.

Also consider, this trick isn’t just for the thank you page

You can, and you should remind people to look out for your next emails. So, yes, as they request a lead magnet, your thank you page urges them to go to their inbox and look it up. But then, in the email itself be sure to mention that there will be more emails coming and that they can look out for them.

If you offer a “7 day free email course” in exchange for their email address, you have the perfect excuse to use this trick. You can even announce emails more explicitly. On day 1, in the email you can tease them about the day 2 email and announce what it will discuss, and tell them to look forward to that day 2 email.

However, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Announcing your next email isn’t something that is limited to just those going with an angle of getting people to sign up for a “7 day email course”. You can use some variation of this in most welcome sequences.

6) Failing to use ramp-up and warm-up strategies

This is primarily important if you’re sending a lot of emails. However, even if you’re just starting out, it might be useful to pay attention to this part. It will help you better understand how things work behind the scenes.

In fact, our industry-wide-famous strategies for warming up an IP are legendary, and one of the main reasons why email veterans keep moving to Emercury. The same is true with our ramp-up patterns and formulas.

But what is this “warming up” and “ramping up” stuff? Well, aside from being an industry secret to much higher profits, it’s actually a very simple concept that will help you understand how inbox providers look at you and your emails.

The thing is that inbox providers tend to err on the side of caution. You and your campaigns are assumed “suspicious” until proven otherwise.

That just means that they need proof that your emails are wanted and people want to receive them. And they can tell this by how many people open your emails, spend time reading them, or click on the links inside.

Nothing new to you if you have been paying attention up until this point in this article. You already know that engagement is what they’re looking for. But here is another factor that we haven’t discussed up until now, and that is volume.

A high-volume of emails with the exact same content is considered spammy by default. That is, the inbox provider isn’t going to just deliver thousands of copies of the same email to thousands of people all at the same time, and then wait to see if they like it. The risk is just too big for them. So they will just choose not to deliver it, or mark it as spam.

There is a solution to this “problem”, and it simply involves ramping up your email campaigns

You first send a small batch to a smaller segment of your list. You give it some time so that the provider can see that people are opening the emails and are not marking it as spam.

Then, you increase the volume and send it to a slightly larger segment. Wait a bit, then send to an even larger segment.

If this sounds complex, the good news is that it is quite easy with Emercury, and if you do a lot of mass-mailing campaigns, you will definitely want to talk to us.

You’re probably losing out on a ton of profit by not utilizing correct ramp up strategies. Consider booking a free demo where we can discuss this.

7) Not utilizing segmentation and personalization

Remember how we said that inbox providers only care about whether the email is wanted? That is, the person is actually looking forward to that email as it speaks to their unique needs and wants. They actually care to read that email as they gain value from it.

To make this even more apparent, let’s look at something. Think about the kind of email that the inbox providers are trying to stop – unwanted bulk email.

This is the kind of email where an offer with no value is being sent to millions of people. By pure statistical chance, a small percentage might find it useful. However, most people will get annoyed that they got an email that they have no use for.

Now remember that phrase: “have any use for”. Just because a person signed up for your list, it doesn’t mean they want everything you might send. It does not mean that they care about, or have use for every single thing that you care about or do.

Sure, if you send an email that fits under the general topic of your newsletter, the odds of it being useful are higher than emailing random people around the globe. However, unless you specialize in a super laser-targetted sub-topic for a sub-niche, not every topic you deal with will be useful to all of your subscribers.

This is where segmentation and personalization come into play

The more you can personalize the experience you give to your subscribers, the better. They will be more likely to open and engage with your emails. That in turn will directly boost your profits and email reputation score.

In terms of how to actually do this, the topic is beyond the scope of this article, so I recommend that you put reading our personalization guide on your to-do list. It might just be one of the best investments you make.

8) Ignoring reputation-related metrics

Here’s a funny thing – it is very easy to avoid catastrophe when it comes to your reputation. The warning signs will be there quite early, and all you have to do is pay attention.

This is why with Emercury we make it exceptionally easy to track this stuff. You can see your soft-bounces, hard-bounces and spam complaints at a glance. Unlike other platforms, not only do we not hide these “scary” metrics, we put them front and center.

And yes, some platforms go out of their way to minimize this information. Some even hide this data altogether! I guess the idea is that if you’re in the dark about your email reputation getting worse over time, you won’t feel bad about it.

Unfortunately, that strategy only goes so far, as email marketers will eventually notice that their open rates and conversions are plummeting. They will also get frustrated that there is no clear way to pinpoint the source of the issue. That is until they talk to an expert that tells them all about deliverability and reputation. This is usually the point at which they have an epiphany and move to Emercury.

The point is that you want to be proactive about this from day one

All you have to do is to take a look at the bounce and complaint-rate metrics in your Emercury account. Just pay attention to them.

In most cases you will be able to adjust, either by changing your strategy or performing some list hygiene. But if you’re unclear how to go about this, consider that being an Emercury user has its perks. And getting answers when you need them is one of those perks. You can always ask us for help, and we love helping! We’re obsessed with helping you improve your deliverability.

In fact, a lot of the time we will warn you. We might even contact you first if we notice those warning signs. And if you already have a big list and do mass-mailing, consider that our higher-tier plans for people with larger lists include a lot of personalized and hands-on attention, delivery management and analysis.

Looking to make marketing easy? Consider getting a friend on your side

You know, there is a saying about how experienced people learn from their own mistakes, but the really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. The same is true when it comes to the smart marketers I know. They don’t want to waste time “learning from their own experience”. It’s a lot faster when you learn from other people’s experiences.

And here’s a funny thing, when you have access to a great mentor, this is exactly what you get. You get access to someone else’s experience. This will help do things right from the start and skip every mistake before it even comes up.

But do you know what’s even better than a mentor who has a lot of personal experience?

A mentor that has a ton of experience helping others. Aside from their own personal experience, they have worked with and helped hundreds of marketers just like you.

And wouldn’t you believe it, you just happen to be so lucky that you ran into just such an opportunity. You see, over here at Emercury we have been personally involved in the growth and success of thousands of marketers. And we have been doing this for over a decade. We have advised, helped and guided all of these marketers to more success and profits. This is just something that we see as integral to the Emercury experience.

And if you want to get a sense for that “Emercury Experience”, consider booking a free demo with our team. Isn’t it about time that you felt what it’s like to have someone on your side? Someone that is excited for, and cheering for your marketing success.

Because that is what we believe in. We don’t see Emercury users as “customers”, we see them as partners. The more profit they make from marketing, the more they will utilize our marketing platform. So it’s a general and overall win-win.

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