Blue Utopia Blog

Understanding Email Sending Reputation

Tue, Sep 26, 2023 - 11:14 AM

in Email Outreach

Email Sending Reputation

Email remains a vital tool in political campaigns for correspondence, organizing and fundraising. But by some estimates, nearly 90% of all email is unwanted SPAM email. Email service providers (ESPs) like Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Hotmail), Yahoo, et al are constantly trying to filter out this unwanted email for their users. You may have frustratingly noticed that, after hours of creating, editing, and testing your email, that not all emails are treated (e.g. delivered) equally. One of the primary methods ESP's use to treat your email is your sending reputation, which has two main parts: IP and domain reputation. Let's break these down in plain terms.

What is IP Reputation?

Think of your IP address as the historical sending behavior of the email server (IP address) that you use to send email. This past behavior tells the ESP how to gauge the trustworthiness of the email server itself. So, for example, if you send email from MailChimp, your account will have been given access to a specific email servers (well, you, along with a bunch of other clients). When you send an email, it will almost always come from that server and that same IP address.

Obviously, one limitation with this is that there are many clients using a single IP address and one bad actor can have an effect on all the others. This is why many email senders have very stringent protocols around ensuring that your list is a verified opted-in list. The second limitation with IP reputation is that email senders can easily change servers and just simply send from another IP address.

As a result, many ESPs have added domain reputation as a way of measuring a sender's reputation.

What is Domain Reputation?

Domain reputation, as the name suggests, is a way for the ESP's to understand the reputation of a sender's domain name, which is usually more closely associated with an organization or individual and less likely to change -- e.g.

Factors Influencing IP and Domain Reputation

Consistent Sending Patterns: Regular and consistent email sending demonstrates reliability, which positively affects both domain and IP reputation.

Engagement Rates: Engagement rates, such as opens, clicks, and replies, indicate to ESP's whether recipients find your emails valuable or not. This contributes to your domain and IP reputation.

Spam Complaints: When recipients mark your emails as spam, it negatively affects both domain and IP reputation.

Bounce Rates: High bounce rates which occur when emails can't be delivered. A high bounce rate will negatively impact your IP and domain reputation.

Authentication: ESP's use DNS settings such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to verify that the email that comes from your domain is genuinely coming from your domain. These should always be set up consistent with the way you send email.


Ways to Improve Your IP and Domain Reputation

Consist Sending: Sending a steady volume of emails is one of the best things you can do as it gives ESP's a history of your sending reputation.

Send Relevant and Valuable Content: Ensure your emails contain valuable information for your audience and you are sending to recipients that genuinely want to hear from you.

Keep Your List Quality High: Consistently clean your email list by removing bounced emails and emails that have generated spam reports, as well as ensuring that unsubscribes are removed promptly. It also is a good idea to periodically cull your list of recipients who may have signed up in the past but are clearly no longer engaging with your emails. Sending a targeted email to inactive recipients is a good way to either reengage them or remove them from regular sending.

Provide Clear Opt-Out Options: Most all emails include options in the footer for opting out. Some ESP's even embed this option toward the top of the email. It is important to make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe. This is even more important if you don't have a repeated engagement with your list - for example if your kicking off a new campaign and haven't been in regular touch with your audience.

Authenticate. Depending on how you send your emails, authenticating your domain and/or IP address can help ESP's know that your email is legitimate.

In conclusion

Understanding and actively managing your email sending reputation is crucial for successful email marketing campaigns. By paying attention to both IP and domain reputation, you can increase the likelihood that your emails reach their intended audience, ultimately leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.

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