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November 21, 2011

Email Delivery & IP Reputation

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Deliverability all starts with reputation! And we’re talking, specifically, about the reputation of your IP address. This is the IP address from which your emails are being sent. This is not necessarily the IP address of your domain/website.

Reputation is kind of like your credit score! There are a number of factors that go into making up the score such as spam complaints, unknown email addresses, etc. Each has a different “weight” so to speak – just like the factors on your credit report.

Likewise, it takes some time to build a good reputation just as it takes some time to build up your credit.

And just as there are a number of different entities that “report” to the credit agencies, your IP reputation is the sum of several factors as well.

These include:

– The ISPs themselves

– The “Anti-spam” community

– Subscriber feedback (and interaction)

Let’s take a look at each of these components:

The ISPs (Internet Service Providers)

The ISPs are looking at things such as authentication measures, ISP spam traps, user spam complaints, DNS information, list maintenance, and even links (URLs) in the email messages themselves.

NOTE: We’re referring to items at the ISP level at this point, and not 3rd party providers of data.

These factors determine not only whether your emails will be blocked (rejected) entirely, but also whether they end up in the inbox. In other words, the ISPs may accept your message into their system, but filter it into their users’ spam folder.

Keep in mind that the ISPs are always testing new things and it ultimately comes down to their subscribers’ feedback so don’t get too worried if your emails temporarily end up in the spam folder IF you’re doing everything correctly!

TIP: On the first email you send to your subscribers after they opt-in, include instructions for them to whitelist your “from” email address.

The Anti-Spam Community

Next, we need to look at the anti-spam community.

This refers to both spam complaints AND spam traps.

The thing that’s important to realize is that there are dozens, if not hundreds – even thousands, of “lists” out there! But there are only a handful of reputable services that significantly impact your deliverability.

The main ones that you need to pay attention to are SpamCop and SpamHaus.

Basically, customers of the service simply forward objectionable emails as attachments to a customized reporting address. The service does a number of checks on the message and ultimately reports it to the ISPs.

These complaints are NOT the same as a subscriber hitting the “spam” button in their email client.

Subscriber Complaints

The next factor is your subscriber complaint rate. It doesn’t matter if you using single or double opt-in for your mailing list when it comes to subscriber complaints.

Even if someone has confirmed their opt-in, they can still click the spam button and adversely affect you. The ISP has no way of knowing if they opted in at all, let alone single opted in or double opted in.

One of the bigger problems when it comes to delivery problems is that the spam complaint rate is too high. Different ISPs have different acceptable rates. The bottom line is that you want this number to be as low as possible. The acceptable rate varies with different ISPs, email providers, and hosting companies (if you’re using a self hosted email solution).

It is best to treat these complaints as unsubscribe requests and remove these subscribers from your list.

TIP: Use a one-click unsubscribe process to make it easy for people to get off of your list. If you make the process too complex, you’ll increase the rate at which people simply click the “report as spam” button (or equivalent in the subscriber’s email client).


IP Reputation is one of many factors that affects your inbox deliverability. Download your free whitepaper entitled: “Get Your Email to the Inbox” Today at http://www.EmailDelivered.com/reports/email-reputation.

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