Sender Reputation and Email Deliverability In 2020
If you are doing email marketing for a longer time already, you will remember times where you just would create a new account with aweber or getresponse, import 10k leads and blast them right from day one, all inboxing fine. Well, those times are gone. Why? Because Google changed their way to look at incoming emails and decide if they inbox or sent to the spam folder.
Back then it was only important that you send from good sending IP’s. Those IP’s are managed by the autoresponder services. However, spam was getting totally out of control, so Google had to do something.
Fun fact: Did you know that over 80% of daily emails around the globe are spam emails?
Fun fact 2: 85% of all email addresses that people use daily are Gmail
No wonder that the most important provider to inbox with is Gmail.
Google now takes a lot of factors into consideration to decide if they let your email inbox or move it directly into spam. The most important factors are IP reputation, sending domain reputation, lead quality and email content.
Let’s take a detailed look on all of them.
IP reputation: You have to differentiate between using an autoresponder service, or a self hosted solution. On autoresponders you can’t control the IP reputation, because the sending IP’s are managed by the autoresponder services. The downside of this is that a few bad users can destroy the reputation for every user. This is why aweber, getresponse and the other autoresponder services ban pretty fast. They worked their arses off to build a good reputation for their sending IP’s, and they don’t want spammers to hurt the reputation, as every single user on those autoresponders would have to live with a bad reputation, resulting in bad inboxing rates. On self hosted solutions, you alone are responsible to build a good IP reputation. This can have the downside that you can ruin your reputation within minutes if you don’t know what you are doing. But on the other side no one else can ruin the reputation with questionable email practices.
Sending domain reputation: This one is different to the IP reputation. If you create a new sending domain, it won’t have any emailing history. Even when you used the same sending domain on, let’s say, getresponse, and then moved it to aweber, you will start at zero email history. Why? Because Google looks at the combination of IP and sending domain, not the domain alone. Anyways, when you use an autoresponder, you will have full control of the way you warm up the domain reputation. Same when using a self hosted solution. It is your responsibility to do proper warmup and keeping your list healthy.
Lead quality: This one is important too. With lead quality we don’t necessarily mean high open and click rates. Of course this is important too, but more important is the percentage of hard bounces, spam complaints, dead leads in your list and spamtraps. Spamtraps are email addresses that only exist to hurt the sender reputation. Those email addresses are leads that don’t opt in anywhere, for example email addresses that were used some time ago, but then were abandoned. When you send emails to spamtraps, this will hurt your reputation immediately, because this normally means that you are sending to a scraped list or list that you bought somewhere, but not built through regular optins.
Email content: A few years back the content of the email was super important. A few bad words could make the difference between inbox and spam folder. Well, this has changed. Of course you should focus on creating good content and don’t send anything like „PayPal just sent you $500“. However, the importance of content is not as important as it used to be. You can basically inbox every content when you have a healthy reputation.
So how do you build a good sender reputation?
This topic alone is a science on its own, but here are a few pointers that can help you massively to build a good reputation with Gmail:
- On new sending servers, the best way to start is to use double optin for the first few days. You will lose traffic in the beginning, but you will thank yourself later because this is the foundation for high reputation
- Engagement is key: Get people to reply to your follow ups and broadcasts. The more engagement you create, the faster you will be good friends with Gmail
- Start slow: When you start sending to 1k, 2k leads on day one, you can immediately say Good Bye to your reputation. Google needs time to evaluate your sending behaviour, quality etc., therefore you need to start slow. Otherwise Gmail will just say „Wow, day one and this guy is sending tons of emails. We better move him to spam to protect our users“
- Clean your lists: This is very important. Get rid of dead emails, complainers, spamtraps etc.. In the beginning you only want to have active and engaged users to have a good foundation for your deliverability
- Check your reputation daily:
Use services like Google Postmaster
to evaluate your reputation. This way, when something goes against your plans, you can act immediately
How are you guys managing your reputation? We hope you were able to get some golden nuggets out of this post
Stay strong, Daniel & Simon