Email Warmup

How Email Sender Reputation Gets Damaged & How to Improve it

A short guide to improving sender reputation


Khalil Ismail


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Email sender reputation score is an important factor that greatly influences your email campaign’s success. The greater the score, the greater will be chances that the email service provider (ESP) will deliver emails to the primary inbox. A damaged sender reputation may cause your ESP to divert your email to the recipient’s spam folder. 

How is email sender reputation damaged, and how to improve it? This article briefly explains the top 4 ways in which email sender reputation is damaged and the top 5 ways to improve it.

What are the factors that can hurt the sender reputation heavily?

1. Spam complaints from recipients

Email marketing is a strategy adopted by most marketers in the twenty-first century as it has a very high return on investment. According to Statista, for every USD 1, the ROI is approximately USD 42. This is huge. It further says that almost 87% of digital marketers use email marketing for advertising their products and services. This email marketing strategy and ROI can be adversely affected if people start complaining about your emails. In email marketing, the recipient has the option to call any email as spam email. If the recipient starts considering your email spam, it adversely affects the sender’s reputation and email deliverability. 

2. High bounce rate

Email bounce rate is the percentage of emails sent but not delivered to the right address. The greater the bounce rate, the worse your email marketing and email deliverability will be. This usually happens when people change the email address with which they have subscribed to your website. In addition to adversely affecting your email campaign success, a high bounce rate also deteriorates your sender reputation score. In general, 1-2% of bounce rate is acceptable, says Direct Marketing Association. Therefore, email marketers should make sure that their email list is up to date and does not contain any dormant emails. 

3. Continuous sending to dormant email addresses

The quality of the email list is also very important in the success of email campaigns. It really matters where you get your email list. Whether you got it through a subscription, harvested it from the internet, or purchased it from any platform. Usually purchased, rented, or harvested email lists consist of email addresses where you would be sending emails without their permission, says Ian Brodie, an email marketing expert and the author of the book, “Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience.” This drastically increases bounce rate and spam complaints, ultimately affecting your sender reputation.

4. Low open rates

There are multiple factors that lead to a low sender reputation score, consequently reducing email deliverability. In addition to the factors discussed above, a low open rate is also an important factor that reduces the score. This result from multiple factors. It is possible that your caption or subject line is not attractive, which results in the recipient ignoring your email. In addition, sending emails to the wrong person also leads to a low open rate. Lastly, if the email is not personalized, then it is very less likely that the recipient will open the email. The statistic says that an email sent with the recipient’s name at the start is 22% more likely to be opened. Hence, a low open rate is a major factor that leads to a low sender reputation score.

How can one improve sender reputation?

1. Verify your email list

Dormant emails are detrimental to your sender reputation score and email deliverability. Sending emails to initiative or dormant emails is a huge red flag and it should be avoided to maintain a good sender reputation. Most people stop using their emails or subscribe to a website with a temporary or invalid email address, so keep updating and verifying your email address. Start with a small email list and implement a warm-up period. This will also help in improving email deliverability.

2. Send relevant and interesting content

If you send low-quality or irrelevant content to people, they will get offended and declare your email as spam, which will hurt your email deliverability. Sending customized and targeted emails reduces your spam and bounce rate and increases your engagement with the audience. Hence, sending customized and relevant content is also an important strategy to improve sender reputation score.

3. Keep checking sender reputation

Your ESP could place you on a public blacklist for email marketing if your sender reputation keeps decreasing. Kath Pay, founder of Holistic Email Marketing and the author of the book “State of Email Marketing,” says that a sender reputation score of less than 70 can adversely affect your marketing campaign. Hence, another important way to improve your sender reputation score is to keep checking your score and not letting it go below the critical score.

4. Remove inactive subscribers

KrestenBergsoe, in his article, “Reasons Why Your Email Subscribers are Inactive,” says that the main reason for inactive subscribers is that they have subscribed to your website with a fake email or they have achieved their goals. Therefore, email marketers must keep updating their email lists. Hence, removing inactive subscribers is also an important strategy for improving sender reputation score and email deliverability.

5. Enable double opt in and reCAPTCHA

This is the very least used strategy; however, it is a very effective strategy to stop bots from subscribing to your website or services and help build an email list that is more likely to engage with you. This strategy also prevents spam addresses from filling your sign up form and adding dormant emails to your email list. In brief, enabling opt in and reCAPTCHA will also help increase your reputation score, ultimately enhancing your email deliverability.

Your sender reputation score heavily influences your email deliverability. If your score is less than the critical score, then most of your emails land in the receiver’s junk file. If you’re an email marketer and looking for software to bypass the receiver’s spam folder and want to land your email into the recipient’s primary inbox, then GoCustomer is your solution. GoCustomer optimizes your sender reputation, warms up your domain and avoids your mail from being stuck in spam.

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Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    Email sender reputation score is important for email marketing because it can affect email deliverability and whether emails end up in the recipient's inbox or spam folder.
    Factors that can damage sender reputation heavily include high bounce rates, spam complaints, low engagement rates, and sending emails to inactive or purchased email lists.
    The bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that are returned as undeliverable, and a high bounce rate can negatively impact email marketing and sender reputation.
    A low open rate can negatively impact sender reputation because it suggests that the email content is not engaging or relevant to the recipient.
    Double opt-in and reCAPTCHA can help improve sender reputation by reducing the likelihood of spam complaints and ensuring that email addresses are verified and belong to real individuals.
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