Top 12 Domain/IP Reputation Practices That Build Everlasting Email Reputation

Do email deliverability rates really depend on the reputation of the domain and IP?

Experts, as well as novices, have long debated the effects of IP and domain reputation on the reputation and deliverability rate of an email address. Admittedly, there are various factors used to measure email reputation but the reputation of a domain or IP is the most indispensable.

Suppose your domain or IP has a bad reputation, emails sent will be rejected by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) or end up in the spam (or junk) folder of the recipient.

This piece of information discusses available statistics and the significance of domain/IP reputation in building a remarkable email reputation. Besides this, it outlines how to check your current IP reputation and necessary measures to be taken towards building a viable email reputation.

First, let’s dive into the pool of statistics as the following needs to be analyzed thoroughly to better understand why email reputation is of a high priority.

Primary Causes Of Failed Email Delivery

With respect to a recent research on the causes of failed email delivery conducted by email deliverability expert Return Path, emails with content-related issues account for only 23 percent while the whopping 77 percent belongs to emails with reputation issues.

The famous sage Christ Marriott in his words said:

How to Know the Email Reputation of a Sender?

Now, let’s examine the steps involved in knowing the reputation of a domain.

Knowing the reputation of your sender is important because it is a means of measuring the ability of your domain to get emails into the inbox of your recipients.To check this, you can use the easy-to-use Return Path email reputation finder tool. However, there are many alternative checkers available online.

Let’s take a look at the information displayed when you check an IP address or domain name for an email reputation score.

visit the email reputation lookup tool of Return Path and input your IP address or domain name, and click on the ‘View Report’ button.

The tool will halve the report. The first checks how correct two DNS records (MX Record and SPF Record) are configured and if the IP or domain uses a valid, highly-encrypted SSL certificate.

Let’s decipher some technical terms:

MX Record: Amongst all DNS records, this determines the IP address of the email server of the inputted domain.
SPF Record: On behalf of the domain, mail servers are allowed to send emails — these are identified by the SPF Record.
SSL Certificate: This is the standard certificate for encryption and security. Basically, a server that uses an SSL certificate is free from eavesdropping and similar worries.

Second, the lookup tool uses a number of parameters to calculate the score. Take the Gmail score below as an example:

With each column comes a specific use.

Sending IP: As the name implies, this lists all IP addresses the domain uses to send emails.
Hostname: This is the name of the email server’s host.
Volume: As simple as it sounds, the Volume is the monthly traffic of the email server. It is the number of emails sent within the last 30 days based on Return Path’s observation.
Sender Score: Each IP address has its individual Sender Score in a percentile format: a scale of 0 to 100. The score is based on performances calculated across key reputation measures important to both ISPs and the recipients.

Email reputation is cleaved into three score levels:

The Email Reputation is Bad when the Sender Score is >35
The Email Reputation is Neutral when the Sender Score is >70
The Email Reputation is Good when the Sender Score is <70

Summarily, you should know the reputation of your email and how each parameter works so you can track your progress by now. However, you need to take some key steps before seeing a progress.

Not to worry! We have 12 easy actions below written for the average Joe so you can easily understand and utilize. When done properly, you’ll definitely see a progress in domain/IP reputation.

1. Choosing A Reputable Service Provider For Your Email

The importance of an email cannot be overemphasized. No matter what you’re into, you need to exchange emails with your clients. Definitely, you wouldn’t want an important email anywhere else but in your client’s inbox. To ascertain the proper delivery, you need to choose a reputable email service provider.

Selecting the perfect provider is not as difficult as you might think. In fact, it’s a simple process.

First, you need to contact the providers you have in mind (you can choose to interview three providers at a time so you can pick the best option) and politely request for the IP addresses of their email servers.

Once you have the IP address of a particular provider, visit MxToolBox or a similar website to check the IP address.

Take MxToolBox for example, an ‘OK’ status means the provider has a good reputation. If the status is ‘Listed’, however, the reputation of the service provider is disagreeable and bad; so such provider is not to be trusted.

In addition to the blacklist status, there is a number of notable parameters and statistical data.These parameters will help determine the email delivery rate and customer engagement amongst other uses. Apparently, you should opt for the service provider with the highest email delivery rate. The higher the rate, the higher your ROI (return on investment) and revenues will be.

Similarly, customer engagement is important. Email campaigns with dynamic content and strategic automation are bound to engage customers more effectively.
But there is more to the success of email campaigns than that; a real-time, accurate reporting and analytics interface is overriding. When you have access to an interface of such, you can easily track the success of each email campaign and — with the stats — you can cogently improve your upcoming email campaigns.

Now, let’s a look at another effective action.

2. Correcting Your Disreputable IP or Domain

Knowing whether the IP address you’re using to dispatch emails is personalised or made use of by various clients is important. This is because of some reasons.

For one, it is highly accessible that your IP address still gets barred at diverse RBLs in the event that you have adhered to every safety measure to ensure that your IP address does not get barred. This is only possible if a number of clients use the IP address. If not, the measures must have safeguarded your IP address from any blacklist.

But in the event that you have an IP address personalized to you, you are the proprietor of the IP address with unparalleled authority. Yet, you will be beset with diverse issues while sending messages if your IP address is disreputable or blacklisted at different RBLs.

You will see some messages bouncing back, some will arrive in the recipient’s Trash folder, while some recipients will report your emails as Spam. Obviously, this is bad for your reputation and will portray you in a bad light in the presence of your subscribers.

While MxToolBox is a prime example, there are numerous tools available online which can be employed to check the status of your domain/IP. With one, you can know whether your domain/IP is blacklisted at different RBLs and how to settle any issue of such by taking every required activity recommended by the concerned RBL to vindicate your domain/IP and thereby reach your recipients.

Further, it is imperative that you fix the embarrassing issue of a feeble password. You can also use the appropriate validation for your mail server. Using a mail content? Ensure it isn’t vulnerable to hacking, and examine your whole framework to ensure that nothing is defenceless.

3. Employing Distinct Subdomains For Enterprise

When you have ensured that nothing is defenceless, employing a distinct subdomain for an enterprise email to send bulk emails for marketing is a brilliant idea. Basically, you can set up a specific subdomain to send your email marketing campaigns — and your main domain will be untouched.

This works when you are running any type of online business because it is important to make your main domain reputable. For instance, you can get your domain blacklisted at various RBLs by carelessly sending marketing emails. When such occurrences are repeated, your domain will be seen as a spammer.

However, you can easily avoid such issues. As said earlier, you cannot go wrong with a subdomain. Just create, configure, and send all your marketing emails through this subdomain. This way, your main domain will not be affected if there is an issue with your email campaigns.

4. Actualizing Adequate DNS Records

Many industry experts will emphasize the significance of having the appropriate DNS settings for your mail domain. This is highly efficacious in the light that it makes emails land in the recipient’s Inbox folder, and not Spam or Trash folder. There are three ways in which you can productively actualize adequate DNS records.

(a) Create a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Record

This is the secret of the most reputable emails as recipients’ servers consider an email reliable and trustworthy when they can find an SPF record. SPF records permit disclosing a catalogue of IP addresses which can be delegated as email senders on one’s behalf.

This will grant the server permission to re-examine the domain appellation as opposed to the affiliated IP address. Also, it ensures that the email is original and not counterfeited or a scam. Lastly, it makes an email more cumbersome for spammers to send any unwarranted email from one’s personal domain.

To generate SPF records, MxToolBox’s SPF Record Generator is up to the task.

Prior to the record generation, you just have to choose the benchmark for your email preferences.

(b) Create a Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)

Similarly, DKIM is an essential record which you can create with the help of your email service provider. In basic terms, a DKIM is a highly-effective method of authorization to showcase the fact that an email was established at a definite domain and that no alteration occurred when the email was being delivered.

As a prime example, a sender who dispatches an email on behalf of clients can configure their DKIM signature to employ their domain. This way, the address and DKIM signature are in alliance when disseminating traffic over a specific IP address.
And to do this, you need to collect the DKIM record from the mail service provider you’re using and configure it in your domain’s DNS settings. To find out more, check out the well-detailed article DNSSimple has on DKIM records.

(c) Create a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC)

You might be discouraged by its long name but it’s nothing to fear. Basically, DMARC is a blueprint connecting SPF together with DKIM. By using it, you can securely eliminate the risk of cyber-criminals using your domains in phishing and email spoofing scams.

DMARC makes sure that the licit email is appropriately authorized through traditional DKIM and SPF records, so the suspected activity is swiftly prohibited. If your email domain uses a fixed IP address, employing DMARC is paramount. For more information about DMARC records, you can carefully read our well-detailed article titled Everything you should know about DMARC protocol.

Moving on, you can generate DMARC records for any domain on a number of diverse online tools but MxToolbox’s DMARC Record Generator is probably one of the easiest tools out there.

5. Employing a Confirmed Opt-In or Two-Way Opt-In List

Now, it’s time to employ an efficient list after creating the three aforementioned DNS records. First, you should never at any point go with a paid list. This is mainly because your ‘supposing’ subscribers did not subscribe to your list and they probably are not interested in your services and/or products. Therefore, your emails can easily be reported as a spam, thereby influencing the reputation of your domain/IP.

Second, what is a two-way (or double) opt-in list? Well, this is when recipients receive an email which requests their affirmation before adding them to the list.

Accordingly, choosing a two-way opt-in list is best when sending a mass of emails (such as marketing or bulk emails).

By utilizing a double opt-in list for your email campaign, you can prevent spam complaints that will negatively affect the reputation of your domain/IP. Double opt-in and confirmed opt-in lists are the best options to defend your email against spam complaints.

These procedures work because they help filter good email addresses from the bad while keeping a reputable image in the recipients’ eyes. If you’d like to learn more about two-way opt-in lists, check out this astounding aide on how double opt-in works.

6. Sticking With An Expedient Timeframe For Sending Emails; Weekly Is OK

You’ve successfully covered five actions, now it’s time to know when to send emails to your subscribers. By now, you ought to have a solid system for emailing to your recipients.

To be honest, knowing how often to email your subscribers is quite difficult to factually define. But it’s said that an excessive number of emails can destroy the effectiveness of your email list. Similarly, when you email your subscribers scantily, you can hamper your income.

In the event that you send emails intermittently, there is a possibility that a greater percentage of your email list would have changed their email addresses before the next email. If you tend to send emails frequently, you will definitely have a low, solid bounce rate.

Therefore, the real question is how to augment the deliverability and increment the income. You should simply send the appropriate number of emails with respect to a specific timeframe. This time, you have to do a little research and testing. First, recognize the time between each email. Second, know the number of emails to send. Lastly, conduct some tests before sending messages to your live list.

One email per week is the standard benchmark today. As soon as you have a number of peculiar content for your emails, you can decide to send two emails per week — or three per week if they are truly worthy of your subscribers’ time. In contrast, you can scale down to one email per two weeks. However, care should be taken so as to avoid putting some distance between you and your subscribers.

Once you’ve picked the perfect timeframe for your emails, let’s move to the next action on our list.

7. Frequently Cleaning Your Email List

Now, you know the number of times to send an email to your subscribers but when should you clean your email list? Perhaps, you ought to keep a spotless, neat email list so your emails can reach your recipients’ Inbox folders more probably.

For one, the reputation of your domain/IP suffers when your emails end up in the Spam folder and when you send emails to non-existent email addresses. With either of these two, your delivery rate will decrease like a descending wind. When you face a situation of such, frequently cleaning your email list to have a spotless email list is essential.

Removing inactive subscribers from your email list is one of the most well-known recommendations to have a spotless list. But be perpetual about the removal process so you don’t just remove any subscriber. The best measure is to remove the subscribers who haven’t opened any of your emails in a long time, apparently six months.

Following a long period of inactivity, ISPs might have ‘gravestoned’ some email accounts and classify all incoming emails as spam. As a result, purging long-term inactive subscribers will free your email from a Spam trap. A higher email engagement rate and a decreased overhead are the remaining factors that help free up some space from your email list.

With a practical data, you should also compare what you could have saved if you had cleaved off inactive subscribers two years back with what you could have earned if they were active. Let’s say you could have saved $1000 per month compared to an income of $100 per month. Therefore, you can conveniently decide to clean your email list or not.

Notwithstanding, there is an alternative which is also simple. You simply have to verify your email list by using one of the many Email Verification and Validation Services available here. You can use any one of them to verify your email list once a month to evacuate invalid emails, spam traps, and dispensable emails from your list.

After cleaning your email list, we need to deal with the bounce rate of your email.

8. Ensuring A Qualitative Process To Manage Email Bounce Rate

To say the least, there are three major classifications of bounce rates; these are…

Hard Bounce: This classification is a result of the recipient’s email being invalid or no longer in use. In such cases, you should remove the email address from your list since this is permanent.

Soft Bounce: This, on the other hand, is temporary. When the recipient’s mailbox is full, the server is down or unavailable, or the email is bigger than the account can receive.
General Bounce: This is nothing compared to hard or soft bounce. Basically, the server cannot deliver an email for a reason that is unknown.

To begin with, determine two factors: the reason for the bounce back and its classification — permanent, temporary or unclear. You might want to turn to your email service provider but they cannot deliver the exact data that you need to manage your bounce rate.

This is mostly because you’re using one of their shared IPs which many email marketers are also using.

Therefore, everything is left in your hands. You can start by regularly updating your email list. We understand that you might not be familiar with that, so below is a quick overview:

  1. Send an ‘Update Profile’ form to your subscribers to request they update their profile.
  2. As stated in the Frequently Cleaning Your Email List section above, remove subscribers whose inactivity is at least six months old.
  3. Auditing your bounce rate routinely is key to building a reputable email. You can make use of an email scrubbing service to reduce about 85 percent of your bounce rate if you’re encountering a rate higher than expected.
  4. To reiterate what we discussed in the sixth point, you should stick with a defined interval of sending emails so as to reduce your bounce rate and thereby increase your domain/IP.

9. Creating A Room For Blacklist Monitoring Of Your Server

As discussed earlier, your emails being reported as a spam and a high bounce rate can both hinder the reputation of your email. As a result, your domain or IP can be blacklisted by DNSBL (DNS Blacklist) or RBL (Real-time Blacklist). Either of these two can limit your mail server from sending out emails.

In fact, there are hundreds of organizations throughout the world and each uses its own defined set of measures to blacklist an IP address or domain name. If you find your email server on any blacklist, your emails will never deliver. To tackle this challenge, let’s have a quick overview of how blacklist monitor reputation really works.

First, you should know Spam Blacklist services now monitor sending reputation with respect to the IP of the mail server, the domain of the mail server, and the DKIM identity. Second, they are close to delivering results in real-time.

Now, let’s discuss the main types of blacklisting:

1. Public Blacklist: You can easily and directly check public or open blacklists. Numerous blacklist tools are accessible online to rapidly check in excess of 100 blacklists that are open.

2. Private Blacklist: Internet Service Providers and email service providers such as Gmail, Yahoo!, and Outlook use their own private blacklist solution.

3. Enterprise SPAM Firewall: Large corporate IT companies such as McAfee, Barracuda, and Cisco’s IronPort use this type of service. Basically, an Enterprise SPAM Firewall is a better version of public blacklist services, with real-time data and a distribution of network maintained by the firewall.

Nevertheless, checking if your domain/IP is blacklisted might not be on your schedule. So, you can opt for a blacklist monitoring schedule of your mail server to periodically monitor if your domain/IP is blacklisted.

Luckily, MxToolBox, Hetrix Tools, and many other blacklist monitoring service providers offer such service free of charge. They simply monitor your domain/IP according to a configurable interval and email you once your domain/IP is blacklisted in any DNSBL or RBL.

Once you’re done signing up, you simply need to provide your IP address or hostname to Add Blacklist Monitor.

10. Employing Reputable, Secure Email Marketing Software

When all is said and done, you still need one or more email marketing software programs to advance the success of your email. Most of these software programs will help attract new clients while strategically associating your existing clients. So far, we have discussed nine points; when you carefully follow each point, you’ll notice how fast the reputation of your domain/IP increases.

Yet, you need one or more email marketing software programs to plan, create, send, and analyse your email campaigns with the help of available tools. No matter what type of business you are in, how large the business is, or if you work as an individual, you can market or promote your services and/or products with an email marketing software.

One of their advantages is the use of multiple reputable IPs to deliver emails to your subscribers. Therefore, there is a high probability — almost a certainty — that your emails will land in the Inbox folder of your subscribers, not the Spam folder.

As stated earlier, they provide tools to analyse your email campaigns individually. Statistical data usually include open and click rate, geolocation performance, bounce rate, and links according to clicks. With these data, you can track your progress and better understand your subscribers.

For more information, check out the best Email Marketing Software compared according to features and plans. Also, as an addition to our seventh point, it’s highly recommended to use a bulk email verification software to properly clean your email list prior to an email campaign.

11. Regularly Tracking The Performance, Thereby Improving Content

Well, the end result of starting an email campaign is to attract new subscribers while satisfying existing subscribers. What most business owners don’t understand is that a failed email campaign is another chance to drive a better email campaign the next time.

You should monitor the reports so they can help create better content in your upcoming email campaign.

After an email campaign, you should focus on these points:

1. Open Rate: The open rate of your email campaign measures the number of subscribers who opened your email. This is one of the most important metrics to check because your email campaign won’t achieve anything tangible unless your subscribers open and read it and take an action. Two elements that mostly influence your open rate are the subject line of your email and the name of the sender.

Open Rate = Emails Opened / Sents Email – Bounced Emails

2. Click Rate: As important as the open rate is, the click rate is often as important in cases where the rate of clicks is the primary objective of your email campaign. There are four elements that usually influence your click rate are the location of the link in the email, how many times the link is included, the anchor text of the link, and the landing page of the link.

Click Rate = Total Clicks / Emails Sent

3. Unsubscribe Rate: Lastly, we have the unsubscribe rate — which is a direct calculation of the number of subscribers who unsubscribed from your email list.

Unsubscribe Rate = Number of Unsubscribers / Emails Sent

Let’s look at the unsubscribe rate particularly. There are certain factors which cause a high unsubscribe rate.

  1.  Sending entails too often or rapidly.
  2.  Sending emails irregularly or sluggishly.
  3.  Emails have misleading titles.
  4.  Sender’s name is difficult to recognize.

Pro-Tip: When you have a low open rate or click rate with a high unsubscribe rate, it’s time to effectively improve your email content.

12. Reducing Complaints of Spamming

Did you know that four in every ten unsubscribers come through feedback loop as spam complaints? While there is an innumerable number of reasons why people hit the ‘Report spam’, some are quite obvious:

  • Unsatisfactory, unhelpful, or irrelevant emails
  • Absence of an ‘Unsubscribe’ link or banner, or being difficult to locate
  • If the ‘Unsubscribe’ link or banner is visible, the process is slow and therefore the subscriber believes the request won’t be processed

You can successfully reduce the number of spam complaints about your email by…

1. Clearly showcasing the ‘Unsubscribe’ link or banner

This technique has been tried and tested by shrewd, expert email marketers for a long time: give your subscribers a chance to unsubscribe easily. If you’re using a link, bold the particular text. If you’re using a banner, you can use a color tinged very different from the color of the other elements in your emails.

The link or banner is mostly placed in the bottommost part of every email. In addition to the link or banner, you should include some administrative information. Your contact number(s), corporate address, and privacy policy are the norm these days.

To reiterate, showing the ‘Unsubscribe’ link is not enough, showing it clearly is. Subscribers normally report an email based on how trustworthy the sender seems. If you hide or disguise the link, you clearly are not worthy of their time so they’d probably report your emails.

For example, some ‘supposedly’ smart marketers disguise the link by using a font color identical to the background color. Let’s say the texts of an email are colored black while the background is white. The sender can put the ‘Unsubscribe’ link in black so subscribers won’t be able to see it easily. This might seem smart but it’s actually dangerous to the reputation of your email.

Similarly, some senders disguise banners. Some put the link behind an image that may not display by default. Also, a simple ‘Unsubscribe’ or ‘Opt Out’ text will do the magic; when the link is given a vague or dubious name, reputation suffers. Once finding the ‘Report spam’ button is easier than the ‘Unsubscribe’ button, it’s only logical they go with the easier option.

2. Making the unsubscribe process seamlessly easy

Often times, senders deliberately make unsubscribing from an email list a hot-button issue. Don’t be like these senders. Instead, make the whole process simple and straightforward. Once they click on the Unsubscribe button, the page should be auto-filled with their information so the ‘Submit’ button will be all that is left.

Once done, you can refer them to a fast-loading page which thanks them and tries to convince them into keeping in touch. This way, they will feel safe and believe you respect their decision; some might even re-subscribe. And the process must be immediate so they do not receive the next email. If they do, they will definitely report the email as spam.

Conclusion

A massive list of email subscribers is important to generate the best ROI possible. But these days, emails don’t just end up in the receiver’s inbox; there are far too many measures to respect before your email can have a good reputation.

Well, this step-by-step guide has listed and explained the necessary information to help increase your email reputation. Do follow the steps to significantly boost your email reputation. And do not forget to leave your comment, extra information, or criticism in the comment section below.

Jason-Pat
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Jason-Pat

Jason is CTO at AccuWebHosting.com. He shares his web hosting insights at AccuWebHosting blog. He mostly writes on the latest web hosting trends, WordPress, storage technologies, Windows and Linux hosting platforms.
Jason-Pat
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