Behind every great campaign is a solid sender reputation. It affects whether your emails will reach the inbox or end up in spam.
As we’ve already said in our blog post, email sender reputation is a combination of IP and domain reputation that tells email providers whether you’re a spammer or not. From today’s article, you’ll learn how to utilize deliverability tools to find out your sender score.
Why is Sending Reputation so Important?
Your reputation score shows how conscientious you are as a sender and whether your emails are worth placing into the inbox. Using a purchased address list will cause troubles with email providers right from the start. It is best for the reputation to begin with a smaller list and warm up the IP over time. With gradual increase in volume and a low number of complaints, a good reputation will be built over time and help to avoid potential deliverability problems.
How is Domain Reputation Calculated?
There are many things that affect sender reputation. The main ones are the number of spam complaints and spam trap hits, proper email authentication, the frequency of mailings, etc. Let's find out what you can do to improve these elements of the reputation.
Your emails may be tagged as spam by recipients themselves. You should keep this figure below 0.4–0.5%, as this is one of the key parameters for evaluating the sender reputation for the worse. If the percentage goes up, consider segmenting your list so that your subscribers would not consider your letters irrelevant.
A two-step subscription, also known as double opt-in, will help bypass spam traps and keep inactive addresses away from your mailing lists. In addition to that, it is helpful to do regular cleaning of the database and delete all the subscribers and addresses that don’t interact with your emails. Otherwise, your sender reputation will gradually decline.
Opt-in is a subscription method that allows you legally obtain users’ email addresses to send them newsletters and other promotional emails. There also should be an opt-out form helping to remove uninterested audiences. The unsubscribe link is a must for every marketing email, it helps to keep the mailing list clean and low on spam complaints.
If active subscribers start unsubscribing one by one, this can become harmful to your reputation. A high percentage of unsubscriptions signals the distribution of low-quality content. In this regard, the sender reputation goes down.
Frequency of mailings
If you immediately send a huge number of mailings from a new IP address, you can get blacklisted. The same applies to when you send too many emails to an existing list. Mailbox providers are suspicious of such activity. Therefore, it is important to gradually increase the number of emails sent and do mailings at reasonable intervals.
There are three types of authentication DNS records which should be configured to have good sending reputation:
- SPF record is essentially a list of servers that send emails on behalf of your domain. If you are using an automatic email service, be sure to add them to your email setup.
- DKIM record is a personal digital signature of a domain which is recognized by the email systems.
- DMARC is the last setting and it is processed after SPF and DKIM checks. Here you specify what the recipient’s email system should do with the email if it fails to pass the check.
Ways to Check Your Sending Reputation
Before the email reaches the client, it goes through various technical inspections. The sender's emails are authenticated and analyzed by the recipient's mailbox service providers’ (MSPs) spam filters.
There is no single reputation assessment formula common for all email services, but there are several key points that need to be monitored. MSPs keep track of spam or suspicious content sent from a domain, and they link it to the sender's reputation. Evaluation scores and other relevant information from various sources are aggregated by reputation services, and corporate mail servers and MSPs use it to determine whether a particular email is worth getting into the user's inbox.
The results of these multiple checks will determine whether your emails will end up in the inbox or in spam. So in order to send emails successfully, you can sift your emails through the same filters and tools as your email services’.
3 Types of Email Verification Services
When analyzing emails, the main component ESPs pay attention to are sender’s IP reputation and domain reputation. These scores build up with time, and if the reputation doesn’t raise any concerns, the email will be good to go.
But the reputation gets worse if the sender violates the appropriate regulations, exceeds the rate of spam complaints, or overlooks the quality of the email content. Apart from that, there are many other factors email services take into account before giving you the green light. So let's see which tools you can use to check your sender’s status.
There are three main types of email verification services:
These are analytics services offered by major mailbox providers (like Gmail or Yahoo) that allow you to track the statistics of email campaigns you send out. The postmasters inform you on how many emails have reached the inbox and how many have been placed into spam, how many emails have errors, how many users mark your emails as spam, and whether all authentication settings for emails are set correctly.
These services assess the quality of your email lists and clean them of irrelevant or harmful addresses. They look for spam traps and misspelled addresses, identify nonexistent addresses, remove duplicates and check the activity of mailbox holders.
Other services assess the likelihood of emails getting into spam, like spam score checkers, and help you take appropriate measures before you click on the “Send” button.
There are also services that check the technical side of emails and mailing lists before sending. For example, they test the settings for email authentication (SPF, DKIM and DMARC), assess the reputation of the domain and check if it shows up on popular blacklists.
4 Tools to Check Your Sending Reputation
1. Sender Score
As mentioned earlier, your IP reputation accounts for a good half of your overall sender reputation. To perform an IP reputation check as well as to check email deliverability, you can go to Sender Score. Just enter the IP address and specify some information about you, your email campaign, and your company.
Then you will see an overview of your email infrastructure, as well as number of spam trap hits, complaints, nonexistent addresses and other useful metrics.
The score you’ll get is expressed in numbers from 1 to 100 — the higher it is, the better the reputation. Verification is available for free, but registration is required.
To avoid problems with deliverability, be sure to check your domains and IPs at SpamHaus without paying a dime. It also has a Spamhaus Block List Advisory with a database of IP addresses that are not recommended for accepting emails from. In the Domain Block List tab you can check your domain reputation and get some tips on how to get removed from SpamHaus blacklist, if you happen to find your domain name there.
Before submitting the blacklist removal request, however, be sure to check your newsletters and mailing lists. Fix any known problems, then send SpamHaus a request with a report on what you have done to improve the situation.
ZeroBounce service can check addresses with 98% accuracy at a moderate price. It can show you additional information about your subscribers like name, gender, or location area by extracting data from sources like social networks and correlating it with an email address.
It can also find spam trap email addresses and delete them from the mailing list. After the verification is complete, you receive a password-protected report.
The service scans emails for any spam-like wording, attachments with prohibited content, or technical errors. It also gives an assessment of each email campaign you are conducting.
To test the newsletter, you should send an email to a random address shown on your screen. The service generates a new email address after each page reload.
To see the overall rating, click "Check the score" on the main page. You also can see the details of six parameters by clicking next to them. Mail-Tester checks authentication, email formatting, blacklists and broken links, and uses SpamAssassin to test for spam.
This is a clear and simple pattern — bad reputation leads to distrust and a negative attitude towards the sender, and a high chance of getting into spam. Good sender reputation gives you the opportunity to be forgiven for occasional spam complaints, delivery errors, etc. And your campaigns are also more likely to go smoothly and successfully. Use the tools listed above to check and improve your sender reputation.