Oh, You Didn’t Know About Your Reputation?

Posted by Ahmad Salim on

Know anyone who doesn’t care about their reputation? They’re one of two personas: a contestant on some drama-laced reality TV show or someone you want to have a restraining order on to keep away from your email program.

The truth is that reputation is a pivotal component of your email program’s success. If you want your deliverability and ROI to be at its apex, then both your IP address and domain reputation need to be at their optimal state.

An IP address is a unique number set assigned to each device connected to the internet. Mailbox providers apply unique interpretations of your reputation and in turn decide whether to deliver your message to the inbox, spam/bulk folder, or outright reject the mailing based on your IP address reputation and other key reputation metrics.

Key points
IP addresses can either be dedicated or shared, as well as permanent or dynamic. With few exceptions, a shared IP address should be avoided. Imagine being on a train and the conductor passes out a nice refreshing drink but only one straw! Do you want to trust the hygiene of every other passenger? A shared IP address does not allow for you to have control of the reputation, and all it takes is one sender to ruin the reputation and cause major problems for your campaigns.

Moreover, avoiding dynamic or shifting IP addresses for your sends is also vital, since this is a method employed by spammers in an attempt to game the security filtering apparatus (snow-shoeing). Rather, your IP address should be permanent and dedicated to your mail stream. Own your identity.

Once you have your own dedicated IP address, you’ll want to avoid some major pitfalls. A mistake many email programs make is sending to their entire list right from the start. An IP address warm-up process is key at this stage. Send to select and highly engaged segments within your subscriber list. In addition, maintaining a permanence of volume is important to ensure you’re not suspected of being a spammer. Mailbox providers will restrict the number of allowed inbound email messages per IP address and oftentimes directly filter in the bulk folder until the they monitor legitimate mail and consistent volume from the IP address.

There are many other fine points regarding IP address reputation and health. Contact us to get full expert guidance and unique insight into your program. It’s important to keep in mind that the issues adversely affecting your IP address reputation cannot be fixed by changing IP addresses; rather the issues need to be fixed.

Domain reputation
A domain is a registered name on the internet (e.g., returnpath.com) and a domain’s reputation is the sending reputation of that particular domain. Being such a recognizable component of your brand, it’s important to protect all areas of your domain (like registrant ownership and encryption certification for any sensitive data collection points).  Mailbox providers are focusing on domain-based reputation when making filtering decisions about your email.

The question is, does only the top-level domain (e.g., returnpath.com) influence domain reputation, or is the sub-level domain (e.g., blog.returnpath.com) important as well? Or are they analyzed as two separate reputations? This is especially important for organizations that have various business units which at times do not have insight into each-others’ sending programs and practices. The answer is that top-level and sub-levels jointly affect the domain reputation.

When filtering based on domain reputation mailbox providers will consider factors such as:

  • Inbox placement rate: The number of mail sent from the said domain that lands in inbox
  • Spam rate: The number of mail sent from the said domain filtered to the spam folder
  • Complaint rate: The number of complaints mail from the sending domain has received
  • “This is not spam” rate: The number of mail sent from the sending domain which received a “This is not spam” selection by the user

Moreover, you can further protect your domain’s reputation by employing DKIM and DMARC requirements.

Suffice it to say that IP address and domain reputation are both vital in ensuring your email program is performing at optimal levels. Find out more about your reputation at senderscore.org, and check out the The Ultimate guide to Email Deliverability to learn more about how reputation can effect your email program.


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About Ahmad Salim

Ahmad is a Technical Account Manager at Return Path and is intent on elucidating how applicable data can guide in optimizing email deliverability programs. Data rules the land and opinion can be king if it has an army of data. He's been involved in the digital security and veracity field for over six years. Connect and read more about him here: www.linkedin.com/in/ahmadrsalim

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