One of the most important assets you have in the email world is your reputation.
If you don't have a good reputation tied to your domain and your IP address, your email will not reach your recipients' inboxes.
Due to its popularity and unique ability to send information to users, email has been overrun by spammers. By their definition, approximately 90% of all email is spam (source: MAAWG). Because of this, email service providers ("ESPs") such as Gmail, AOL, Yahoo and MSN/Hotmail have declared an all-out war against spammers. This has made our inboxes a nicer place. This also makes it very important to manage your email reputation. If it is not spotless, it will get caught in ESP 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 out, at least initially. It's hard to blame them given all the spam out there. Because of the importance of reputation, a significant part of our discussion of best practices revolves around building and maintaining your email reputation.
Our goal with respect to your email reputation is to ensure that the infrastructure is optimized so that emails reach the inbox. We test the reputation of all our IPs before assigning them and use the authentication methods required by the major ESPs.
Beyond making sure the infrastructure is set up correctly, we also provide the tools to answer some important questions:
- Are emails being delivered and, if not, why?
- Is a recipient's ESP accelerating their traffic and why?
- Are messages bouncing due to incorrect domains or outdated addresses?
- Are recipients unsubscribing or complaining about spam?
- Are recipients interacting with your emails by opening them and/or clicking on links?
You should use all of this data to make sure you are meeting ESP guidelines and adjust your email sending to stay in good standing.
We provide you with all the tools to establish a good sending reputation, but ultimately it is up to you to send emails properly. Some email service providers use F.U.D on email deliverability to sell you a capability that magically gets your emails to the inbox. This is definitely not the case and your actions, as the email sender, play the most important role in good deliverability.
However, if you follow a couple of rules (along with proper authentication of your audience's emails), you will most likely build an excellent reputation for sending emails:
Only send emails to people who have signed up to receive them from your website/application/service and always send a confirmation link first to confirm that their address is correct (aka "double opt-in").
Track your email and adjust your delivery based on feedback from ESPs and recipients (e.g., do not send additional emails to recipients who have unsubscribed or complained of spam).