Email Reputation: A Complete Overview

The Warmup Inbox Team
The Warmup Inbox Team

What Is Email Reputation?

Also known as a sender reputation or a domain reputation, an email reputation is a generalized score assigned to inboxes and domains by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ISPs use this score to judge the safety of an incoming message from a sender. ISPs and spam filters take reputation into account when determining whether they’ll allow a message to go through to the intended recipient.

If an email has a positive reputation and high score, it’s more likely that their message will be sent through to the recipient’s inbox. However, if a sender’s reputation falls below a certain point, ISPs will automatically forward their incoming messages to the recipient’s spam folder. With enough spam complaints and a bad reputation, there’s a significant chance that the domain could be placed on a blocklist that brings all email communication from that sender to a screeching halt.

Having a good sender reputation is essential because it’s one of the first things mail servers consider when determining what to do with your message. A high reputation will ensure that your email campaigns are effective because your subscribers will actually see your emails. Additionally, a positive reputation will help spam filters recognize your email address as a safe sender, so they don’t bounce or block your messages.

What Factors Contribute to Email Reputation?

Multiple factors work together to make up an email reputation. For example, when you apply to colleges, the universities look at your GPA, standardized test scores, personal essays, and involvement in extra-curricular activities. They don’t take one of these components alone because that doesn’t provide the complete picture of who the applicant is. Email reputations are the same way.

Some of the components of an email reputation include:

  • The number of emails you send
  • The number of spam complaints you receive
  • The number of times you fall into a spam trap
  • Whether you’ve been put on a blocklist
  • Your email bounce rate
  • Audience engagement rate (including opens, replies, forwards, click-throughs, etc.)
  • How many people delete your messages without opening them
  • The number of unsubscriptions you get

It’s also important to understand that not all components carry the same weight. For example, if you have people unsubscribe or don’t always forward your emails or reply to them, your reputation will be minimally affected. However, your bounce rate and spam complaints carry a lot more weight. And being placed on a blocklist is the worst thing for your sender’s reputation.

How to Protect Your Email Reputation

Protecting your email reputation comes down to constantly practicing good email hygiene. Being an ethical email sender isn’t too tricky, but it’s not something you can ignore and hope for the best.

We understand that your focus is likely on producing incredible content for your subscribers, but your campaigns won’t be effective if you don’t have a good reputation. Monitoring your email reputation needs to become a frequent practice for your marketing team if you want to maximize the return on investment of your email efforts.

There’s no single cure for protecting your email reputation. Like we said before, it’s a sum of many parts. Whether you assign one person to be in charge of maintaining your reputation or assign different tasks to various team members or you employ a service or software to do the work for you, keeping a positive reputation is a crucial part of email marketing.

There are multiple ways to check your reputation online, and you can take advantage of applications by Sender Score, Barracuda, and Trusted Source.

How to Maintain a Good Email Reputation

If you already have a good email reputation, keep up the great work! We’ve compiled a list of best practices to help you add to or improve your reputation routine so you can get the best reputation you possibly can.

  • Clean Your Email List: People change, deactivate, or abandon their emails all the time. If you’re sending emails to people who aren’t responding, remove them from your list. Continuing to send emails to recipients who aren’t responding can signal to ISPs that you aren’t maintaining your email list, and they may start bouncing your emails or reporting your messages as spam.
  • Use Double Opt-In or Confirmed Opt-In: Instead of using traditional single opt-in measures, adopt a double or confirmed opt-in policy. These can help your reputation in two ways. One, your subscribers will verify that they want to receive content from you and signal ISPs that your content is important to them. Two, it gives consumers the chance to confirm that their email was entered correctly and saves you from any unnecessary bounces.
  • Keep Tabs on Your Deliverability Rate:Email bounces are bad for your reputation, so it’s good to monitor your email deliverability rate. It is important to remember that deliverability generally only covers whether or not your email made it to the recipient and doesn’t only count the messages that make it to the inbox.
  • Craft Fabulous Emails: Customers will decide to open an email based on who sends it and what’s in the subject line, so you have to catch their attention right away. Once they open the email, you want the message to be clear, concise, and engaging with a clear call to action. If customers reading your message know what they’re supposed to do next, there’s a better chance that they’ll click the link to your site and see what you’re offering.
  • Avoid Spammy Words and Content: ISPs are looking for any red flags that might indicate a message is spam, so proofread your copy for any typos or anything that could be misinterpreted as a phishing scam.
  • Warm Up Your Inbox: Before you start sending out emails in bulk, give ISPs the chance to recognize that you’re a safe sender by slowly increasing the number of emails you send in a day. The process takes about four to six weeks, and we can help streamline the process.

How to Improve a Bad Email Reputation

If your reputation isn’t as high as you’d like it to be, don’t panic. Your email reputation can be fixed with time and careful consideration of your email habits. In addition to the practices listed above, to improve your reputation, you should also:

  • Take a Break from Sending Unsolicited Emails: Cold email marketing can be effective, but too many unsolicited emails can damage your reputation quickly. While you work to improve your reputation, focus on the subscribers you have before you introduce cold emailing back into your marketing strategy.
  • Remove Your Domain From Any Blocklists:This is absolutely essential. If your reputation is damaged, make sure you aren’t on any blocklists. If you are, then contact the list administrator to have your domain removed. If you aren’t on any blocklists, be sure to do everything you can to stay off of them.
  • Provide an Unsubscribe Button: Giving your recipients the option to unsubscribe gives them a way to stop receiving your emails without reporting you as spam. Make unsubscribing easy and honor the request quickly to avoid any bounces.
  • Purge Your List: This goes back to maintaining a clean email list, but if your reputation is bad, you have to make sure that your email list is sparking. Never buy email lists from sellers who claim to have addresses to your target audience, as these lists are often filled with fake emails and spam traps.
  • Verify Emails Before You Send: To avoid any unnecessary hard bounces, verify that the emails you have are active and valid.
  • Switch to a Dedicated IP: If you’re operating on a shared IP, you may want to consider transferring your information to a dedicated IP to have more control over your email practices.
Email Reputation