One of the most important assets you have in the email world (much like the real world) is your reputation. If you do not have a good reputation tied to your domain and your IP address (“IP” used herein for abbreviation), your email will not reach your recipients’ inboxes. Due to its popularity and its unique ability to push information to users, email has been overrun with spammers (as if you didn’t notice). Depending on your definition, approximately 90% of all email is spam (source: MAAWG). Due to this, email service providers (“ESPs”) like Gmail, AOL, Yahoo and MSN/Hotmail have declared an all-out war on spammers. This has made our inboxes a more pleasant place. This also makes it very important to manage your email reputation. If it is not impeccable, you will get caught in the ESPs’ spam filters.
A good analogy for your email reputation is your personal credit score. Obviously, a bad reputation will hurt you. However, not having a reputation will also hurt you. If ESPs don’t know you (or more specifically your IP and domain) they will assume the worst and filter you, at least initially. It’s tough to blame them given all the spam out there. Due to the importance of reputation, a significant portion of our discussion on best practices revolves around building and maintaining your email reputation.
Our goal with respect to your email reputation is to make sure that the infrastructure is optimized for emails reaching the inbox and doesn’t get in your way. We test all of our IPs’ reputation before we allocate them and we use the authentication methods that major ESPs require.
Beyond making sure that the infrastructure is properly set up, we also provide the tools to answer some important questions:
- Are emails being delivered and if not, why?
- Is a recipient ESP is throttling your traffic and why?
- Are messages bouncing due to incorrect domains or stale addresses?
- Are recipients unsubscribing or complaining of spam?
- Are recipients engaging with your emails by opening them and/or clicking on links?
You should use all of this data to make sure that you are complying with ESPs guidelines and adjust your email sending to stay in their good graces.
We give you all the tools for establishing a good sending reputation, but it’s ultimately up to you to send emails appropriately. Some email service providers use F.U.D. about email deliverability to sell you a deliverability fairy that magically gets your emails to the inbox. This is most definitely not the case and your actions, as the email sender, play the biggest part in good deliverability.
However, if you follow a couple rules (along with properly authenticating your email), you will most likely build up a great email sending reputation:
- Only send emails to people that have signed-up to receive them from your website/application/service and always first send a confirmation link to confirm their address is correct (aka, “double opt-in”); and
- Track your email and adjust your sending based on feedback from ESPs and recipients (eg., don’t send additional emails to recipients that have unsubscribed or complained of spam).