How and Why to Protect Your Sender Reputation

Here is all you need to know about how and why to protect your sender reputation

03 July 2022

7 minutes

Khalid Ismail

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The more you search for ways to improve email deliverability, the more you will find different ways; however, one thing would be common in all searches which is sender reputation. Email deliverability and email marketing success is mostly determined by sender reputation. It is a crucial factor to land your emails in the primary mailbox instead of the spam or junk folder.

Despite a belief that email is a thing of the past, research shows that email marketing is one of the best strategies to advertise your product, get customer engagement, generate leads, increase sales, and boost your growth. However, the return on investment on email marketing would not be great if your sender reputation is low. It is imperative to keep the sender reputation score high for the success of your email marketing campaigns. 

In this context, this article briefly discusses why and how to protect the sender reputation.  

But before we jump on that, let’s discuss what sender reputation is and the factors affecting it. It is imperative to understand how and why to protect the sender reputation. 

What is sender reputation?

Sender reputation is a score the email service provider gives to the domain and IP address that sends emails. It is like a credit score; the greater the score, the better the reputation. The better the score, the better your email deliverability, which means that your emails will land in the recipient’s primary inbox. This greatly increases the open rate and possibility of engagement of the recipient with your product and services.  

The two primary factors that determine sender reputation are IP addresses reputation and domain reputation. Let’s look at these two factors.

IP address reputation: IP address is a series of numbers that are associated with your emails. Your email service provider assigns you a unique identity that it uses to track emails sent from your organization or a company. This identity is embedded in the header of every email that you send; however, it is invisible to the recipient. An example of an IP address is “192.168.1.2.” The IP address reputation score is determined by the reputation of your IP address, which means how your ESP perceives emails sent by this IP address and how recipients interact with emails sent with this address. It can be shared or dedicated. Usually, it is recommended for email marketers to have a dedicated IP address so that they can have complete control over their IP address reputation. It is a  measure of interaction at the recipient level, such as open rate, bounce rate, types of interaction, spam rate and others. 

Domain reputation: Unlike IP address, domain name determines the standing and ranking of your email sending domain by analyzing the history and patterns of interaction with the email sent through this domain. In contrast to an IP address, it can not be shared; hence, domain reputation is more permanent than the IP address reputation. Three domains play a critical role in determining domain reputation: From Address, Return-Path domain, and  DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) signing domain.

What determines the sender reputation?

Sender reputation is composed of domain reputation and IP address reputation. Following are some of the main factors that play a critical role in determining these two primary factors. 

  • Sending email volume

  • Bounce rate

  • Open rate

  • Kinds of engagement with the email

  • Number of spam complaints

  • Unsubscription rate

  • Spam trap email addresses

  • Sending emails to inactive or dormant emails

  • Email content

  • Typos and errors in emails

  • Quality of email list

  • Sender history

  • Consistency in sending emails

  • The authentication protocols used (SPF, DKIM, DMARC, etc.)

  • Opens, replies, forwards, and link clicks 

Why protect the sender reputation?

Email marketers need to protect sender reputation because it plays an essential role in the success of email marketing campaigns. Following are some of the main reasons that show why email marketers need to protect sender reputation. 

1. Influences email deliverability

Email deliverability is the ability of email to land in the recipient’s primary inbox instead of a junk or spam folder. Email marketers use it to gauge whether their emails have reached the targeted inbox of the recipient or not. The email sender reputation score plays an essential role in increasing email deliverability. If your emails are not landing in the primary inbox and the recipients are not being able to read them, then there is no point in sending emails during email marketing campaigns. Hence, it is important to protect sender reputation to improve email deliverability. 

2. Protects recipients from fraud 

Sender reputation score plays a critical role in community help. Each day billions of emails are sent, some of which are sent by cybercriminals to hack others’ systems and networks. ESPs use sender reputation, which is composed of email reputation, IP address reputation, and domain reputation, to suppress emails that cybercriminals have probably sent, says the article titled “Sender Reputation” by Anthology. Emails coming from IP addresses or domain names with low sender reputation scores are marked as spam and are sent to the junk folder by the ESP. In a nutshell, in addition to improving email deliverability, sender reputation also plays a role in community help by protecting people from cyber criminals; therefore, it is imperative to protect sender reputation. 

3. Identifies the level of success 

A strong sender reputation score indicates that emails are landing in the recipient’s primary inbox, and the ESP is not considering them spam emails. This is one of the criteria to gauge the level of success of email campaigns. Suppose you have a very good email sender reputation score. In that case, your email marketing campaigns are successful, and the subscribers are receiving your emails in the primary inbox. Therefore, to identify the level of analysis, it is essential to do an email reputation check. 

4. Makes or breaks your email marketing campaign

A sender reputation score is critical for the success of email marketing campaigns. It has the ability to make or break your email marketing campaign performance. If your sender reputation score is low, your emails will likely land in the recipient’s spam folder, and your subscribers won’t be able to read them. Email marketers need to protect the email reputation score for the success of the email campaigns and to increase the return on investment. 

5. Keeps brand reputation spotless and excellent

A good sender reputation score indicates that the domain name and IP address the sender uses to send emails are credible and trustworthy. This shows that your brand reputation is spotless and excellent. A good email reputation score is the reflection of a good reputation of your organization or business. Hence, to protect the reputation of your brand, it is imperative to protect sender reputation score. 

So far, it has become crystal clear that sender reputation has a major role to play in the success of email marketing campaigns; hence, it needs to be protected. The following part of the article discusses some strategies to improve sender reputation score. 

How to protect the sender's reputation?

Following are the top 4 strategies to protect sender reputation. 

1. Email Validation Services 

Poor quality email addresses is one of the major reasons for the decrease in email reputation score. If you are sending emails to misspelled business email addresses or wrong addresses, then your email might bounce back or land in the recipient’s spam folder. To protect sender reputation score, email validation is imperative to get rid of wrong or misspelled email addresses. You can use email validation and verification service to clean up your email list. 

2. Use dedicated IP addresses 

You can use both the shared and dedicated IP addresses for sending emails. If you are using shared IP addresses, then the email content and behavior of other people using the same IP address will also affect your email reputation. You don’t have complete control over your sender reputation score. However, if you are using dedicated IP addresses, then your sender reputation is affected by your email activities only. It is highly recommended to use a dedicated IP address to prevent sender score. 

3. Boost your campaigns 

The simple truth is that most of the factors affecting sender reputation, such as domain reputation and IP address reputation score, will drastically improve if you send emails to only those who like to engage with your emails. Therefore, it is important to boost your campaigns by writing captivating subject lines, maintaining clean email lists, doing A/B testing, and writing relevant content. 

4. Monitor your negative marketing signals

Tom Wozniak, Forbes Councils Member, in his article in the Forbes titled “Improve Your Email Sender Reputation In Three Steps”, says that most email marketers focus on positive signals such as open rate, click rate, click-to-conversion rate to gauge the success of email marketing campaigns, but ignore the negative signals. However, it is equally important to monitor negative signals such as bounce rate, unsubscription rate, opt-out requests, and non-respondents to protect your email reputation score. 

Sender reputation plays a critical role in email deliverability and the success of email marketing campaigns. Email marketers need to understand and protect the sender reputation score to enhance email marketing campaigns’ performance.