Your Email Sender Reputation: Will It Make or Break You?

A woman in a celebratory pose holding up an envelope with 3 stars. The illustration symbolizes good email sender reputation
Do you like putting in a ton of effort and work, only to have it destroyed for no good reason? Yeah, nobody does. Yet this is exactly what happens when email marketers fail to pay attention to their email sender reputation.

You can put in a ton of effort in email marketing, only to find out that the ISPs have declared you a brand-non-grata and deny you access to your own subscribers. Not good. Fortunately, the fix is quite easy. 

All you have to do is read this guide we prepared just for you. And as always, we’ve made it super-laser-focused on exactly what you need.

What is an email sender reputation?

It doesn’t matter if you’re paying attention to it or not, the ISPs have a running score on you. And in fact, if you’re not actively trying to increase your score, I can bet that it’s low, and getting lower by the day. It is this score that we refer to as your “email sender reputation”.

It is based on a lot factors, but it includes:

– How often people open your emails

– If you send emails to spam traps

– How eager people are to click on links in your emails

– Are they even opening your emails, and how often

– Whether they forward your emails to friends

– If they proactively fish your emails out of the promotions tab or spam folder and move them to the main inbox

– Your email sending frequency

– The ratio between unsubscribes and spam complaints

Why you should work on your email sender reputation

The short story is this: you have to adopt a proactive approach when it comes to your approach. I’m going to be very straightforward with you here. This isn’t something you can “set and forget”. Think of maintaining your reputation as an always ongoing process. It is like “basic hygiene” for the email marketer.

And whilst that might sound “like a lot of work”, consider the following. The lower your reputation, the less conversions, and the less profit you make.

In other words, you’re still going to have to put in effort. You’re just going to be putting a ton of effort that amounts to compensating for a low reputation. And in the end, you’ll spend a lot more effort for less results than if you had simply worked on your reputation.

Compensating for a low reputation can also get quite expensive. When your lists are dirtier and your reputation lower, you have to spend a lot more money on lead generation. And if you let it get really bad, you can end up blacklisted.

With that said, the rest of this guide will help you prioritize your reputation efforts and know exactly what to focus on.

Let us help you set up the basics

You know that part where I said reputation isn’t something that you can “set and forget”? Well, that’s only half-true, because a big part of your reputation is whether you’ve set up your sender identity. This includes setting up your SPF and DKIM records as well as your sender identity.

Fortunately, when you’re on Emercury this is relatively easy, and part of the onboarding process. Our team is right there to help you set things up. With that, half the battle is already won, and you can move on to the other parts – the ones that require active and ongoing work.

Focus on engagement

If someone asked me whether there is “one thing” that has the highest leverage when it comes to maintaining a good reputation, I would always say “engagement”. And by that I mean focusing on generating continuous and regular engagement.

The best part about doing this is that the benefits are twofold. By focusing on engagement you will do things that increase both your conversion rates and profitability, as well as improve your reputation. 

If you want to learn more about engagement, check out this super popular guide: The One Secret To All Email Marketing Profits.

Learn about, and work on timing and frequency

If there’s one aspect that I see too many people ignore, it has to be this one. You have to understand that timing can significantly impact everything from open rates to conversions. And if you think about it, well it makes perfect sense. 

If you’re sending weight-loss tips when someone is at work, they can’t read your email then. And by the time they come back home, their inbox has already received many more emails. The opposite is true when it comes to business emails. 

This is why an often stated rule of thumb is to send B2B emails during working hours, and B2C emails after working hours. Your engagement rates will also be affected by the day of the week, with Tuesday and Thursday being the most effective for most senders. But here’s the trick, you have to test and find out for yourself.

The same goes for frequency which is quite tricky. There are aspects to email frequency which are more obvious than others however. The obvious one is that you can send emails too often and annoy people. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that sending too infrequently can also hurt you, so it’s a delicate balance. If you want to learn more, check out Email Frequency: Don’t Get It Wrong, Follow These Best Practices.

Make your emails relevant to your audience

Let’s step back and look at things from the perspective of the ISPs and inbox providers. What is their goal when it comes to satisfying their users? Why do they even score your behavior and track your “reputation”?

As it turns out, they want to keep their users happy. And that means making sure that their users only receive relevant emails. You might have thought that their goal is to deliver all “non spam emails that the user requested”, but no. 

Even newsletters that people request but become irrelevant will slowly get moved to the spam inbox, even if the user explicitly opted in for those newsletters. You might say that’s not fair, but that’s just how things have evolved over the years. 

An honorable mention goes to Google for inventing the promotions tab as a way to strike a middle ground between sending non-spam emails to the spam folder, or stuffing the inbox with non-relevant emails.

Ok, but how do you stay relevant then?

Well, you have to actually track what the subscribers are interested in, and then give it to them. And how exactly do you do that? This is where personalization, user tracking and segmentation comes into play.

You want to make your email marketing as behavior-driven as possible. This means that you are tracking the subscriber’s behavior, and then treating subscribers differently based on their differing behavior.

For example, if a subscriber clicks on your links to articles on weight-loss, you give them an appropriate tag. And if they click on your links to articles on muscle gain, you give them a different tag. You can then proceed to build segments and automations so that you can send different emails to different types of subscribers.

If you want to learn more about personalization, check out our guide Boost Your Conversion Rate: An Easy Guide to Personalization

Encourage subscribers to vouch for you

I’m sure you know that things like people moving you out of the inbox, unsubscribing and marking you as spam work against you.

But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the opposite works in your favor as well. If people dig your email out of the spam folder or whitelist you, then this is a great positive signal in your favor.

One thing you should always do is ask people to check their spam folders and if the email ends up there to mark you as “not spam”. You can mention this on the thank you page for your opt-in process.

Same thing with asking them to whitelist you. All you have to do is mention this in the welcome message. A simple prompt can say something like “To make sure you receive all of our messages, be sure to whitelist us”, and link to instructions on how they can do so. You can subtly remind them about this in later emails as well, you don’t have to restrict yourself to the welcome email.

And on the topic of prompting people to send positive signals, consider occasionally nudging them to forward your emails. This is also a good way to get more positive feedback and boost sender reputation by just asking.

Consider a dedicated IP

The fact is that if you’re on a shared IP pool, you are always at the mercy of the practices employed by other marketers sharing these IPs. That means that even if you apply everything else in this guide, you’re still not guaranteed to have a stellar sender reputation.

This is because your reputation is only partially tied to your domain and sender profile. The IP that is sending those emails also has a reputation tied to it. This is why if you want to get serious about reputation, you might consider going dedicated.

Fortunately, you are in just the right place. If you are considering this option, our team can help you set this up. We can also help you with implementing the different strategies to get an IP started off with a great reputation, including IP warmup strategies.

If you’re curious about all of this, consider booking a demo with yours truly, whilst I am still offering free demos. You can request one over here.

Do list cleanups on a regular basis

This one is kind of difficult for a lot of email marketers to accept. In order to keep a good email sender reputation, you have to get rid of the dead weight.

This includes not only the bounced and deactivated emails, but also all of the subscribers who’ve stopped opening and engaging with your emails. 

It is easy to tell yourself that such an inactive subscriber could become active any day and buy a bunch of stuff. Statistically speaking though, they’re more likely to remain inactive for a long time, all the while dragging your reputation down.

Fortunately, there is some good news. You don’t have to get rid of them immediately. There is a way to give them a second chance before you permanently purge them from your list. This is where re-engagement campaigns come in.

I like to think of these winback campaigns as a step in the list cleansing process. Your first step is to try and see which inactives can be “saved”. And then, after you’ve given everyone a chance, you continue to purge the ones that didn’t bite.

To learn more about how to do this correctly, you can check out our guide: Create a Killer Re-Engagement Email Campaign

Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Note that we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.

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