IP Reputation for Email Marketing

IP Reputation for Email Marketing

If you’re having trouble with your email delivery, there are some steps you can take to audit your email marketing efforts to figure out where the problem lies. There are many variables involved with email delivery. I’m going to cover many of the basics, and nuances of email delivery to help you audit your own IP reputation, and your email marketing in general.

The information below is based on some of the following assumptions: That are you are mailing high quality content to leads that opted into your emails, and not to a rented/purchased list. That you are following best practices, and maintaining proper list hygiene. That you have set up CNAME, DKIM, SPF, and/or DMARC records for each domain/IP you are sending from. That you are sending emails from a high quality domain, and not a free email service.

What story is the data telling?

All ESPs should give you some basic data that will help you see at a high level if your emails are making it to the inbox, and how your users are interacting with those emails. There are some red flags for email delivery that can appear in your data.

1) Increased bounce rate

All ESPs should give you a bounce rate for each campaign. If you drill down into this data, you’ll be able to see why the email bounced. You should see a soft bounce (this isn’t a problem for you as a marketer, their inbox is likely full), a hard bounce (this means the email address no longer exists, or is invalid and should be removed from your list), or blocked. If you see that many of your emails are being blocked by the same ISP, that could be a big problem. I’ll cover further into the article how to handle it, if you are seeing ISP blocks on your email campaigns.

To really identify how you ended up on the block list in the first place, contact your ESP. They will be able to get the block information from the server logs and let you know what type of block you’re receiving.  Some blocks are temporary and will expire automatically. Other blocks are more serious, and can remain in place until you contact the ISP.

2) Low Open rates

Low open rates could be a symptom of poor inbox placement, or poor subject lines. If you have tried several different subject lines and are not seeing any success, this could hint that your problem is much deeper than a subject line.

My dedicated IP or domain is blocked — what do I do?

If you are being blocked at the domain or IP level, you’ll need to determine a few things — when this happened, why it happened, and who is blocking you.

IP blocks are usually caused by one or several factors: Spam complaints by users, hitting spam traps frequently, consistently mailing to low quality leads, being placed in a spam database.

To determine what the cause of the issue is, first check your dedicated IP or domain through one or all of the following services:

http://multirbl.valli.org/lookup/

http://www.senderbase.org/lookup

http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx

https://www.senderscore.org/

These services will give you a good idea of where your reputation currently is as an email marketer, and what you can do to improve that reputation. The first three links will allow you to see if your IP or domain has been placed in any DNSBL databases. Many ISPs use these databases to cross-reference the reputation and determine whether or not you are a trustworthy sender. If you’re listed in one of these database, it can severely impact your deliverability.

If you do end up listed in a spam database, you can request removal. To request removal, you may have to prove that you aren’t a spammer. That could include submitting your email copy, audits of your opt-in methods, etc.

Sender Score — Can give you a good idea as to why your emails are being blocked, this will give you a heads up if you have high spam complaints, invalid addresses, or if you are being blocked — but it does not give you a complete picture of your reputation.

A specific ISP is blocking my emails — not a whole spam database

If you’re only being blocked by one ISP, here is a list of the major ISPs, and how to contact them about spam/block list removal:

AOL:

Determine with your ESP technical team what type of block you are receiving, then visit this page.

AT&T / SBC Global / Bellsouth

You will need your dedicated IP address. Then visit the following page.

Barracuda Spam Filter

You will need your dedicated IP address. Then visit the following page.

Comcast: (This also includes Xfinity, and Verizon)

http://postmaster.comcast.net/block-removal-request.html

I had better luck calling comcast to remove blocks with Xfinity, Verizon, and Comcast.net: 888-565-4329

Cox

Send an email to unblock.requests@cox.net

EarthLink

Please send an email with the complete headers to openrelay@abuse.earthlink.net

Excite

Send email to Excite asking to be removed from email blacklist: abuse@bluetie.com

Gmail

Because Gmail has no feedback loops like other mail services, it can be difficult to identify blocks. If you believe you are being blocked by gmail, go here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=bulk_send&hl=en

Juno/NetZero

http://www.unitedonline.net/postmaster/blocked.html

 

If you are seeing frequent blocks, or if you’re being added to spam database lists consistently — I’d recommend reevaluating your lists, and the messaging you’re sending to your customers. While these blocks do pop up occasionally, if you are receiving frequently blocks (more than 2 a year) you need to audit your email marketing campaigns and ensure that you are following best practices. Be sure that your leads have properly opted in, and that the content you are sending is relevant to them. A/B test copy, maintain proper list hygiene, and keep up on current trends in email marketing.

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IP Reputation and Deliverability for Email Marketing
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If you're having trouble with your email delivery, there are some steps you can take to audit your email marketing efforts to figure out where the problem lies. There are many variables involved with email delivery. I'm going to cover many of the basics, and nuances of email delivery to help you audit your own ip reputation, and your email marketing in general.
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