What Is Email Reputation Management?

Your email reputation is determined by how you rank in the eyes of internet service providers (ISPs) in terms of your ability to follow email best practices and is a key factor in helping your organization secure email inbox placement and benefit from your email marketing efforts.

Email reputation can be hard to measure. Sometimes it’s represented as a number or rating. Other times it’s hidden and approximated by spam placement and open rates. Because email reputation can be difficult to quantify, it’s essential that you and your team optimize your emails and avoid doing anything that could get you flagged by an ISP.

A few factors to consider within your email in order to maintain a good reputation include your:

  • IP address 
  • “From” domain
  • Content assets within each email
  • Domain links contained within each email
  • Specific email sender of the email
  • “Envelope-from” domain 

Your organization should also focus on collecting and using quality data. Your active sending lists should only include willing and attentive recipients to help you maintain high engagement rates and keep spam complaints low.

Why Is It Important to Maintain a Good Email Reputation?

First and foremost, maintaining good email reputation is important because it directly impacts your ability to hit the inbox and generate results from your email marketing efforts. You can’t attract, nurture, and convert leads through email marketing efforts if your audience doesn’t receive your messages. Additionally establishing a good email reputation can help you provide customers with a more targeted customer journey, leading to better engagement and conversions and fewer unsubscribes and spam complaints.

What Do You Need to Establish a Good Email Reputation?

Establishing a good email reputation is much easier than repairing a damaged email reputation — a process that can take months and waste significant resources — and involves meticulously following best practices to the letter. To maintain a good email reputation, you should start by making sure that everything from your subject lines, preview text, content, images, and CTAs are optimized for the inbox.

Making sure that your messages hit the inbox and inspire engagement from your audience also requires you to use quality data and follow the correct protocol when collecting contact information. This means that your lists should only include contacts who have willingly and explicitly indicated that they would like to receive information from you.

To ensure that your audience is engaged and avoid any future deliverability issues, you should take the following actions when collecting contact information:

Include an opt-in checkbox in your contact and content download forms and send a follow-up double opt-in email. If they don’t double opt-in, do not send.

Avoid buying or using scraped data from third-party vendors.

Clean your lists periodically to ensure data quality. Sunset (or retire) unengaged emails on a regular basis to keep engagement rates high and spam complaints low.

In addition to optimizing your content and ensuring that your contact lists are clean and consist of enthusiastic prospects, we recommend using a dedicated IP that is not influenced by other companies for sending emails.


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What Are the Challenges to Email Reputation Management?

Most organizations don’t set out to acquire a bad email reputation, but plenty of them do because there are so many challenges and best practices to follow. To start, there is a general lack of knowledge around email reputation and what it is. Many organizations don’t realize that their email practices can either make or break their ability to get their messages delivered. They might notice low engagement and conversions being generated from their efforts but are unable to pinpoint the cause and resolve these issues on their own.

Even when companies are more familiar with email reputation, they often lack the resources and expertise it takes to get back on the right track. Simply switching course and changing the way you do email marketing is not enough to restore ISPs’ confidence in you as a sender. And those who do realize they need an actionable plan of attack to get back in the ISPs’ good graces lack the time, resources, and tools (such as marketing automation and compliance forms) required to fix a damaged email reputation and maintain good email deliverability moving forward.

Adding to that, just as many organizations don’t have the proper analytics tools to measure whether the efforts they are putting in place are having any sort of impact toward improving their reputation.

How Do You Repair a Damaged Email Reputation?

It’s possible to repair a damaged email reputation, so organizations that currently have poor deliverability shouldn’t have to feel as if their email marketing efforts are a lost cause. Repairing an email reputation is similar to establishing a good reputation but requires tighter control and more oversight.


Only Use Quality Contact Data

During an email reputation repair, you should only use the very best data. This might mean that leads from a newly attended trade show sit on the shelf until the repair is complete, which can be frustrating, but waiting until you’ve improved your email reputation will produce better results.


Shorten Email Engagement Segmentation

Shorten the time of your email engagement segmentation by at least ⅓ (if not half) to only email those who are actively engaged with the sender. Email engagement segmentation must be implemented, and many emails will likely need to be sunset.


Perform Email List Hygiene

Perform thorough email list hygiene. Both the third-party list hygiene and sunsetting should be done to ensure data integrity.

Once your email open rates begin to rise and then plateau for a defined time period, you should carefully and gradually begin adding longer unengaged sections. In some instances, depending on what caused the damage to your email reputation, you might want to avoid this altogether.

After you’ve completed repairing your email reputation, you need to maintain your improved status by strictly following best practices to avoid slipping back to poor performance. Each time a reputation is repaired, it becomes a little more difficult to achieve. ISPs have long memories, and short-term success will not count in your favor against repeated bad actions.


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What Is a Hard Reset and How Can It Help Me Improve My Email Reputation?

Convincing stakeholders to perform a hard email reset can be extremely difficult, but this practice can achieve more effective and timely results than any other method.

Initially, the email reset is the same for all senders: Stop sending any emails on the affected domain/IP for at least 30 days. This might seem extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures. In this instance, it pays to have separate traffic streams for different types of emails on different domains so that not all company traffic must stop.

Once you’ve paused sending emails for the requisite 30 days, you can resume with the following strict setup:

  • Only send to the most engaged email recipients 
  • Ramp-up volumes must be observed 
  • Closely monitor the ramp up and immediately pause if volumes are not accepted 

The specifics of this hard reset depend on who the pause is for, who the audience is (which ISPs and filtering companies are being paused and reset), and the volume requirements at full sending. If your organization has decided it’s time to perform a hard reset, please contact Act-On’s deliverability services team to guide you through the process.


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What Resources Are Available to Help My Company Manage Our Email Reputation?

The first step toward managing your email reputation is becoming informed about what it is and what you need to do on an ongoing basis to ensure your emails are optimized to hit the inbox and that your organization’s messages do not get flagged by ISPs. We’ve listed several resources below to help you familiarize yourself with email deliverability and email reputation and equip you with tips to ensure your messages get delivered, opened, and read.

Having the right tools can also improve your ability to manage your email reputation — as well as enhance your overall email marketing efforts. Many marketing automation platforms have tools that help you perform tasks such as segmentation, which can drastically improve engagement and lower spam complaints. Act-On also has features that allow senders to test and measure the performance of their emails and continuously improve their efforts – including Litmus testing, A/B testing, and list management. Act-On also integrates with email hygiene tools such as Webbula and Neverbounce, which enable you to verify your emails and ensure you’re only using quality data.

Companies that are dealing with a damaged reputation and require an expedient and effective strategy to get their email deliverability and reputation back to health can benefit from working with expert consultants. Act-On has a team of deliverability experts who will work with your organization to identify problem areas and develop a strategy that will result in sustained email marketing success.

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