When it comes to email marketing everyone knows to have your email flagged as spam is not good. We also know that having this happen too many times is really bad and could get your account suspended or closed on platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Robly, etc. But until recently when I made a mistake I never fully understood the consequences of these matters and why it is important to keep your send reputation good, and how taking certain steps to maintain a good send reputation can actually help you have better success in your email campaigns. But first a story.
The mistake was simple. An innocent attempt to contact a large group of people via a mass email. It was not a sales email. And it was not a purchased list. Just every customer who had ever come into contact with an e-commerce shop I was managing to let them know about some issues we were having. It was a decision made in panic mode in the heat of battle. I downloaded the list of customers from the store and uploaded it into our mass emailing service and sent a simple note to that list of several thousand email addresses. I came back on Monday to find our emailing account suspended. Why? Because of almost 2,000 hard bounces and 30+ spam complaints. Fortunately, I was able to get on the phone with support and straighten the mess up. But along the way, I gained a deeper understanding of email marketing and spam.
Anyone who sends out emails to a list has a send reputation. That reputation is scored good or bad. There is no in-between. Once you get a bad send reputation it is not easy to get rid of it. There are several key websites and organizations that monitor and score the send reputation of mass emailers. Your send reputation is linked to your domain name and your DNS. Webmail applications such as Gmail often refer to these send reputation monitors to make determinations about what is spam and what isn’t spam. If your reputation is bad it is very likely all your emails are skipping the inbox and going straight to Spam. Using your domain name you can actually check your own send reputation. A 0.1% spam complaint rate is considered acceptable and often seen among good senders, but the 0.5% rate is already too high and can affect your send reputation.
The reason a mass emailing service might suspend your account is that they often have a shared IP for all of their customers. If your account is too spammy it can ruin the send reputation of your mass emailing service and even affect their other customers.
Here are a few websites for monitoring your send reputation:
Your reputation is determined based on spam complaints, but also these sites will often employ Spam Traps. These are defunct email addresses that they take control of to try to trap spammers. Someone who signed up for your email list years ago, but no longer is active using that email address may have it taken over and turned into a spam trap.
What do you do to avoid a bad Send Reputation?
1. Do Not Ever Buy an Email List
This is an obvious one, but it can be very tempting to purchase an email list. When buying a list, you don’t know whether or not the email addresses were being collected properly so there is a chance could be purchasing spam traps. Many lists you purchase are emails taken from public pages where ISP’s will often plant spam traps.
2. Validate Email Addresses
Scrub your email list on a yearly basis. Use online tools for email validation to check your email list and remove invalid email addresses. A typical fee for this can be a penny per address.
Here is a list of these tools:
- BriteVerify, which charges a penny per email address, up to 250,000 verifications.
- Data Validation, which offers one free report before purchase.
- ListWise, which lets you check 100 addresses in its free trial.
- MailBox Validator, which has a free plan for checking 100 contacts.
- Quick Email Verification, starting at $4 for 500 contacts.
3. Use Double Opt-In
The double opt-in process includes two steps. In step 1, a potential subscriber fills out and submits your online signup form. In step 2, they’ll receive a confirmation email and click a link to verify their email, which is added to your email list. This added step can reduce your hard bounces if the subscriber enters the wrong email information.
4. Manage Your Subscribers
Most mass email tools have the ability to segment a list based on various options including how engaged a subscriber is with your list. If a subscriber hasn’t opened an email from you in two years consider dropping them from your subscriber’s list. Inactive subscribers aren’t of any value to you and some of these addresses are at risk of being converted into dead address spam traps. If a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in 6 months to a year consider adding them to a segment that gets less frequent emails. Maybe even notify them that you will be sending them fewer emails unless they opt-in again. Consider other ways you can reach out to those subscribers. Purging your list can be a really good thing.
Taking these steps can preserve your sending reputation, but they can also help you have better open and click-through rates with a more engaged audience. It could even save you money.
[Image via: Freepik]