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7 Factors that Impact Email Reputation & Strategies to Improve It

Preserving your brand’s reputation is essential in the current digital landscape. To achieve this goal, you need to comprehend how your marketing efforts influence the buying choices of both your existing and potential customers.

For instance, 59% of B2B consumers say marketing emails influence purchase decisions.

Image source

In light of this, ensuring your emails are delivered to your target users seems important. This is where ensuring your reputation as an email sender comes in.

Email reputation is the degree of trustworthiness an ISP places in the emails sent by your brand, which is primarily defined by your email-sending domain and IP. Here’s the thing: not every prospect or customer who you target via your email campaigns will receive the emails you painstakingly craft — and this leads back to your email reputation. 

For every email you send out, email service providers (ESPs) calculate a sender reputation score, based on which they decide whether your emails should be delivered to your target audience. This makes tracking and prioritizing your reputation as an email sender crucial. Having a high reputation as an email sender can boost the likelihood of your emails being delivered successfully and enhance the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts.

This blog will cover all aspects of email reputation, such as its determining factors, how to calculate your sender score, and effective ways to enhance your email deliverability.

Factors influencing email reputation

Here are the primary factors influencing your email sender’s reputation:

1. IP address reputation

Your email-sending IP address’s reputation is among the most significant factors affecting your email deliverability. But first, what is an email sending IP address?

Your email-sending IP is the address that pinpoints the sending server for your emails — and your IP reputation as the level of trust inbox providers have in that sending IP. It is the address from which emails are sent when you send them. So, why should you maintain its reputation?

The main motive is to prevent being blocklisted. IP addresses might be blacklisted because of spam reports, disorganized email lists, or sending emails to invalid or inactive addresses, as well as to people who have unsubscribed from your emails. Getting put on a blacklist can greatly affect how well your cold email campaigns work.

2. Domain name reputation

An email sending domain is a domain used to indicate who an email is from via the “From:” header. For example, “[email protected],” where is the sending domain. DNS records can be configured for a sending domain, which allows recipient mail servers to authenticate your messages.

Similar to IP address reputation, domain reputation also plays a critical role in email deliverability. Every mailbox provider calculates your domain reputation score. Factors such as sender authentication, sender’s email history, and the quality of the email content influence this.

Email recipients trust a domain with a good reputation to send them legitimate emails that are relevant to their interests. Consequently, this raises the likelihood that your emails will get in your subscribers’ inbox. Email deliverability may be adversely affected if recipients of your emails designate them as spam due to a low domain reputation. This can also result in your domain being blocked.

Verifying your own email-sending domain is crucial for achieving the best deliverability and maintaining your own email reputation attached to that domain. Not only that, but as of February 2024, Gmail, Yahoo, and other email clients have enforced the requirement to verify your domain name. If you fail to do this, your emails will stop being received by people using these clients.

Put simply, you must have an impeccable IP address and domain name-sending reputation in order to achieve good deliverability. The following factors we’ll share are tied in and impact your IP address and domain reputations.

2. Spam complaint rate 

The rate of spam complaints tracks how frequently individuals designate their emails as spam or junk mail in relation to the total quantity of emails sent. It informs you of the number of recipients dissatisfied with the content of your emails. A high spam complaint rate can damage your email reputation and lower your email deliverability rate. Therefore, it is crucial to guarantee that you develop original and relevant content for your email marketing efforts.

Spam metrics in Encharge

3. Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of email addresses on your list that didn’t get your message because the recipient’s email server sent it back. The number of emails returned due to undeliverable addresses can significantly affect the success of your emails in reaching their intended recipients.

There exist two kinds of bounce emails —

  • hard bounce (when emails are sent to incorrect email addresses), and
  • soft bounce (when emails are not delivered due to temporary problems, like server downtime or a full inbox).

A high bounce rate could lead to email providers blacklisting your IP address.

Encharge provides a free email address verification that will reduce or completely eliminate incorrect email addresses in your audience.

4. Unsubscribe rate

The unsubscribe rate is another key indicator mailbox providers consider when assessing your email reputation. It computes the number of recipients who opt to stop receiving your emails after they have been delivered. Various factors, including the season, sales cycle phase, and your product or service industry, can impact it. 

“A high unsubscribe rate indicates to mailbox providers that your content is irrelevant to your target demographic, leading to low email deliverability.”

— Vineet Gupta, Founder of 2xSaS

Here is the formula to calculate your email unsubscribe rate:

Image source

5. Spam traps

Sending emails to spam trap addresses can significantly harm your reputation. Spam traps pose a serious risk for salespeople conducting cold email outreach since they might impede delivery. The main reasons behind your email being caught in a spam trap include a disorganized or outdated email list and non-adherence to recommended emailing standards.

There are three types of spam traps created by ISPs and anti-spam organizations:

  • Recycled spam traps – email addresses that have long been abandoned by real people and taken over by ISPs.
  • Typo traps – email addresses that contain intentional misspellings of popular domain addresses like Gmail and Yahoo.
  • Pure spam traps – email addresses intentionally created for catching spammers. 

Emails that land in a spam trap alert ISPs that you may be sending unsolicited emails and that your email practices are subpar. Both your email reputation and deliverability may be significantly impacted if this results in your IP address being blocked or blacklisted.

7. Sender frequency

Your sending frequency is one last element determining your sender’s reputation. Inconsistent or overly frequent email sending can negatively affect your reputation. However, as you send out enough emails, your recipients can start to recall you or become disinterested in what you have to say. This may negatively affect your email reputation. What is the sweet spot, then?

To keep your subscribers interested without annoying them, you should send emails on average once a week. This further helps trigger spam flyers. When a new member signs up for your email list, you can inquire how often they want to receive communications from you. You can categorize your email list into segments according to subscriber preferences or use email categories to build categories for different cadences. For instance, while some subscribers only want monthly emails, others could want daily updates.

The communication preferences feature in Encharge allows users to select which categories and how often to receive emails

So, how can you measure email reputation? Let’s learn about it in the following section.

Measuring email reputation

You can evaluate your email reputation score on two main levels — domain reputation and specific IP reputation.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that more than one domain could be on the same IP address. When using shared IP addresses, other email senders would also impact the reputation of that IP address. If you send more than a few hundred thousand emails a month, it is recommended to use a dedicated IP address to ensure that other senders won’t impact your email deliverability reputation.

Email domain reputation can be determined by tracking how your domain is used in emails and assessing how well it performs in recipients’ inboxes. Internet service providers (ISPs) then use this information to give your domain a reputation score, usually ranging from 0 to 100. This score helps ISPs gauge the reliability of your emails when they scan them. 

You can check IP reputation using one of the following online services or tools: Powered by EmailLabs, is an easy-to-use browser-based tool that assesses the quality of sender authentication, the reputation of IP addresses and domains, the accuracy of the code, and other aspects. 

Image source Sender Score, a reputation rank provided by Validity, is a useful metric for gauging your emails’ health.

Image source

Cisco Talos Intelligence: This Cisco software gives users access to a reputation lookup tool that tells them about an IP address’s standing.

Spamhaus: Spamhaus is a software that keeps up several reputation services and blacklists. You can see whether your IP address is on their Exploits Blocklist (XBL) or on their normal Blocklist (SBL).

To use these tools, you can visit their websites and use the search or lookup feature by entering your IP address (or domain name). Following that, they will tell you about your IP address’s reputation and whether or not it is on any blacklists. Still, if you’re unsure about your email reputation, you can get professional help from a data scientist consulting. These experts provide valuable analysis and recommendations based on your email performance metrics. 

Now that you have thoroughly grasped email sender reputation, including the influencing factors and score calculations, let’s explore various strategies and tips to enhance your email reputation.

Strategies to improve email reputation

Maintaining a high email sender score is essential if your business relies on email marketing to attract and retain customers. For the finest outcomes, follow these pointers to assist you preserve and enhance your sender reputation:

1. Authenticate your email domain

Impersonation is one of the quickest ways to ruin your sender’s reputation and is not a kind of flattery. Email spoofing, which involves someone taking control of your email domain, can decrease email deliverability. Implementing the Sender Policy Framework (SPF), the Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) protocol or a DMARC record can prevent this situation.

Image source

Using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to send authenticated emails demonstrates to ISPs that you are the legitimate sender and proficient in sending emails.

Verifying your domain name in Encharge will automatically take care of all the records required for authentication. 

2. Check if you are blacklisted regularly

You could wind yourself on a blocklist even if you mail high-quality content and are a reputable sender. Thus, before you launch an email campaign, ensure your messages arrive in your readers’ inbox by checking to see whether you are on a blocklist or not. Your communications won’t reach your reader’s inbox if they are blocked. You can use a tool like MX Toolbox or Zerobounce to check if your IP and domain have been blacklisted and where.

In addition to this, a high rate of bounces can damage your reputation for sending emails.

3. Maintain a clean email list

Purchased email lists will generate bounce rates, spam complaints, unsubscribes, and other issues for ESPs and ISPs. This is why you should never purchase such lists; instead, you should grow your email lists organically by following tried-and-true best practices. 

However, even organic email lists can have inactive or invalid subscribers. Individuals frequently remove their personal or work email addresses, either because they’ve changed them or left the organization. Such outdated contact information might lead to hard bounces that damage your email reputation. 

One of the greatest ways to ensure you have correct and current email addresses is to set up double opt-in. This technique involves asking subscribers if they want to receive your emails. You can explain the double-opt-in technique to your subscribers in your welcome email so that they know exactly what they are getting into. 

4. Make unsubscribe easy

No one likes an inbox filled with emails they don’t want to read! This is why it is imperative to ensure that subscribers may easily unsubscribe from your email list without experiencing any problems. If the unsubscribe procedure is complicated or confusing, it will negatively impact your deliverability rate and make your email appear spammy.

Allowing customers to opt out if they want is a smart practice. In light of this, you should provide an obvious unsubscribe link or button in every email you send. Additionally, making unsubscribing easy helps you to prevent more spam complaints. 

Furthermore, if you truly want to enhance the impact of your email campaigns, you could provide your recipients with a preference center so they can choose how often they want to receive emails from your brand after they have consented to receive them. This can help your email recipients feel more in charge and ensure better user engagement. 

5. Write non-spammy subject lines

While particular catchphrases won’t land you in the spam folder automatically, the filtering algorithms of ISPs are getting more sophisticated, which means it is advisable to steer clear of typical spam buzzwords altogether. Some examples of such catchphrases include “Pay off your debt!”, “Free of risk!” “Fraud alert!” and more. 

Keep in mind, though, that there is no hard-and-fast rule or words that will ensure you end up in the inbox if you stay away from them. It is recommended, however, to emphasize true value within the message of your subject lines without coming across as obnoxious or commercial to avoid landing in the spam folder of your recipients.

Read more: 6 Killer Tips to Craft Compelling and Clickable Email Subject Lines

6. Migrate to a dedicated IP address (if you are sending large volumes)

If you are just starting with email marketing campaigns, capitalizing on a shared IP with a solid reputation could be advantageous. However, this could backfire if the other senders on your IP have poor email-sending practices. To stay clear of these issues, use a dedicated IP address once your email sending volumes increase. At Encharge, we generally recommend shared IPs for new senders and accounts sending below 100 thousand emails a month, and dedicated IPs for larger volumes.

7. Maintain a consistent sending frequency and schedule

In order to prevent recipients from ignoring your emails, you should establish a regular routine for delivering them at the appropriate time and frequency.

Sending emails that are not viewed is pointless; therefore, you should research thoroughly and pick the ideal time and day to launch your email campaigns. Factors such as your industry, the type of email campaign you are running, and the interaction patterns of your recipients may influence this.

Sending out a large number of emails all of a sudden can raise suspicions with mailbox providers. This kind of activity is considered “spammy” and might damage your sender’s reputation. Alternatively, you can gradually warm up your IP before broadcasting loudly. 

8. Increase engagement with advanced technologies

Engagement is a key factor influencing why people open your emails. You can use advanced technologies like deep linking and behavior-based emails to boost your email engagement. Deep linking technology lets you send users directly to specific locations within an app rather than a generic homepage or mobile website. By providing a seamless and targeted user experience, deep linking can significantly improve the interaction rates with your emails.

Behavior-based emails, on the other hand allow you to send emails based on what people do or don’t do in your site and in your app. 

Users who find your emails helpful and engaging are more likely to interact with them, positively impacting your email reputation. High engagement rates signal to email service providers that your emails are valuable to recipients, improving your chances of reaching their inboxes.

Final thoughts

Email reputation is at the crux of any successful email marketing strategy. The potential of your marketing initiatives will be limited if inbox providers perceive your emails as spam due to a lack of trust and inappropriate sending methods. The reputation of the email sender is crucial to email deliverability.

Leverage the best practices listed in this blog today to increase your email reputation and, thereby, email deliverability and convert more prospects into paying customers!

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