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Email Deliverability: What is Sender Reputation?

Sender reputation is a term frequently used in email marketing. At a high level, this term refers to the measurement of your email sending practices and how trustworthy your IPs and domains are deemed by ISPs and spam filters. Much like a credit score, there are many factors that are considered in a sender reputation and it takes time to build. You can look up the Sender Score of an IP or domain at Senderscore.org. Sender Score is a proprietary algorithm created by Return Path and it, in general, translates to the sender reputation. The higher your Sender Score, the more likely your emails will be delivered to the inbox.

Here you can see an example of the Sender Score for one of ClickDimensions' IPs:

The factors that go into your Sender Reputation are the same measurements that ISPs use to determine if your email is legitimate. Each ISP/spam filter has their own algorithm for determining whether the email is wanted by their users, so even if your Sender Score is high, there may be other reasons that are unique to the ISP/spam filter that cause emails to be filtered or rejected.

Following email marketing best practices is the best way to ensure a good reputation and a high Sender Score. There are three primary best practices that will have the most impact and three secondary best practices that will also help with your email deliverability (but the primary best practices should be in place first).

Primary Best Practices:

1. Make sure your sending domain infrastructure is in place.

  • Use a registered domain that is consistent with your brand.
  • The SPF record should include the ClickDimensions domain and be free of errors.
  • The DKIM record will be set up on the ClickDimensions side. You don't need to set it up.

2. Practice good list management.

  • Permission is key. Make sure all of your contacts and leads have opted in to receive your communications.
  • Validate the email addresses that you collect using a double or confirmed opt-in.
  • These actions will reduce invalid addresses, complaints and blacklists, all which have a major negative affect on reputation and deliverability.

3. Be compliant.

  • Compliance goes hand in hand with permission marketing, but you must also honor unsubscribes.
  • The recipients' country denotes which regulations need to be followed.
  • Review the guidelines for where your customers are located: US (CAN-SPAM), Canada (CASL), EU (EU Directive/PECR).

Secondary Best Practices:

1. Send consistently.

  • A consistent send frequency will help with sender recognition and may catch an old email address before it's converted to a spam trap.

2. Send solid content.

  • Include a text version of your email (it's easy!).
  • Test for HTML errors and broken links before sending.
  • Avoid spammy words in subject line such as "free," "guarantee" and "help."
  • Make sure your email is mobile friendly.

3. Keep engagement in mind.

  • Unengaged recipients are more likely to generate a spam complaint or turn into a spam trap.
  • Some domains use engagement in their spam filter algorithms. If you send to a lot of addresses that never open or click, it could be hurting your reputation.

Remember, it's much easier to establish a good sender reputation than it is to fix a bad one!

Written by Julie Turner, ClickDimensions Senior Email Deliverability Engineer

About the Author:

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Julie Turner is a Senior Email Deliverability Engineer

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