Email providers maintain a reputation scoring for email sender domains. A good domain reputation means that your emails are likely to be delivered to the recipient's inbox and are not going straight to the spam folder.
A damaged domain reputation is hard to fix. You want to avoid this at all costs.
What do you need to do to damage your sender reputation:
(1) Send big email campaigns to people who didn't subscribe to your email lists
Those people will very likely mark your emails as spam. Spam complaints hurt your domain reputation.
(2) Send lots of emails to unknown mailboxes
This is also perfect to destroy your domain reputation. Having lots of bounces is a good indication that you have a messy email list. You look like a spammer and this will be reflected in your domain reputation.
(3) Send emails nobody opens
Sending emails with low engagement is a good indication that your emails are not interesting to the recipients. ESPs take metrics like opens and clicks into account.
(4) Get lots of unsubscribes
Having frequent unsubscribes to your emails is also a good indication that your emails are considered spam.
(5) Send emails to spam traps
Sending emails to spam traps is an effective way to damage your domain reputation. Spam traps are accounts set up by Internet Service Providers that look like normal email addresses. Sending an email to one likely gets you on a blacklist. It's a good indication that you have an unmaintained email list or even scrawled the web for email addresses.
How to check your domain reputation?
Google Postmaster Tools gives you insights into how Google's email system sees you.
The Get started with Postmaster Tool guide from Google is a good starting point to explain the basics.
Postmaster Tool provides insights into the following topics:
- Spam Rate
- IP Reputation
- Domain Reputation
- Feedback Loop
- Delivery Errors
For Domain Reputation Google shows four categories:
- Bad - your domain is known to send high volumes of spam emails. All emails are rejected or marked as spam.
- Low - known as sending spam frequently and emails are likely marked as spam.
- Medium - known as a good sender, but are occasionally marked as spam by some recipients. Emails from such a domain have a good deliverability rate, but an increased spam level can cause some penalties.
- High - Very low spam rate and good reputation. Mails from such a domain will rarely be marked as spam from the spam filter.
Senderscore.org gets information from various ISPs and filtering companies and compute a score between 0 - 100 for sender IPs. It's not available on the domain level though. If you have dedicated IPs, it's absolutely worth monitoring your sender score. Email Providers use the score for their mail filtering decisions.
How to improve your domain reputation?
To improve and maintain a good domain reputation, you can take action on the following three levels:
(1) Technical Level
Make sure to use all domain authentication features correctly:
- SPF (Sender Policy Framework) to set rules who can send emails for your domain
- DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) lets recipient systems check that the mail was authorized by the sending domain by using a digital signature.
- DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) to protect domains from email spoofing.
Use services like MX Toolbox to check your technical configuration and get advice for improvement.
(2) Email Content
Make sure you send emails that are relevant to your target audience. Sending emails with low engagement, high unsubscription or even spam rates do damage to your sender reputation. Use double opt-in in your sign up forms to send only emails to people who actually care about your emails.
(3) Mailing list cleaning & segmentation
Segment your email lists by engagement and slow down sending emails to people with little to no engagement. Remove emails from your list at some point if they never interact with your emails.
Use an Email Validation Service to clean your email lists from undeliverable emails (bounces), temporary email addresses and risky email addresses.
if you don't use an email validation service yet, signup now and try CampaignKit's email validation service for free.