If you want your brand's email newsletters to land in the inbox of your intended audience and not end up in the spam folder, then you need to understand and maintain your Sender Reputation - that is, the score that ISPs give you as a sender of mass emails, based on your bounce rate, how many people flag your email as spam, and how many people unsubscribe. Here, Really Simple Systems explains how to keep your reputation clean. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

If you have a good Sender Reputation, your emails will end up safely in people's in-boxes. Conversely, a bad Sender Reputation will see your emails flagged as spam or at worse, simply discarded before reaching the recipient. It will also affect the speed that email marketing software will deliver your emails - a bad Sender Reputation will result in your email delivery rate being throttled way back.

The key thing about sending out marketing emails is simply being a good sender. Your Sender Reputation is incredibly important when it comes to the deliverability of your emails and if your customers aren't receiving your emails then they're not worth the bytes they're made of!

An important point here is that you're sending emails to your 'customers'. These are people that will not only be expecting to receive emails from you, but will also accept them and be interested in what you have to say. The fastest way to end up in someone's junk bin and gain a bad reputation is to send unsolicited emails. That typically includes email addresses you've bought in a list or have never had any contact with before. You'll get so much more from a smaller list of interested subscribers who genuinely want to know what you have to say and sell.

And don't forget that the mail servers receiving your emails will be set up to separate good emails from bad and will increasingly base their decision on your sender reputation along with the content of the message. A good reputation will be decided by how many unsubscribes, bounces (addresses that don't exist etc.) and actual spam complaints you get. The less you get and the more people who happily receive your mail, and even click through to further content, the better.

Hourly Send Quotas
One important factor of email deliverability is the rate that emails are sent at. The right balance needs to be maintained between getting a large volume of messages out in a reasonable time and not looking like a nasty spammer.

If you have a good reputation then mail servers will happily receive your emails and won't treat a high sending volume with suspicion. A bad reputation will cause high send volumes to be treated more suspiciously and your sending quota may be restricted.

How Sender Reputation is calculated
Each email service provider has slightly different rules that they take into account. Common rules include:

  • Bounces
    Lots of bounces means that either you've bought a list or you haven't cleaned your mailing list for a while. So don't buy email lists and make sure you keep your list clean by not sending emails to addresses that have already bounced.
  • Spam
    Getting flagged as Spam by recipients is the worst thing than can happen to your Sender Reputation. Don't send emails to people who haven't asked for them. That means NO purchased lists (no, not even "permission based double opt-in" - when they get your email they'll still hit the spam button). Honour unsubscribe requests quickly and don't ever email them again. And, if you can, spread your email campaign out over a few days, or even weeks, to reduce the number of identical emails hitting the same mail provider (like Google) at once.
  • Click-throughs
    Lots of click-throughs are good, recipients like your newsletter. No click-throughs means that it is uninteresting, so could be spam.

There are a few simple rules to make sure you earn and maintain a good Sender Reputation:

  1. Start by sending small email campaigns, maybe to only a few hundred recipients. That will allow the ISPs and ESPs time to see that your emails are reputable.
  2. Make sure your list is clean by using it regularly and cleaning out the bounces.
  3. Never, ever, send emails to people who you don't have a relationship with.

With this in mind, it may be time to look at reinventing your existing email marketing strategy and remember that, by following the simple steps above, you could maintain a better Sender Reputation and ensure that your marketing emails are read on time, every time.