Email Sending Reputation (Vol.2) – IP reputation
Over a period of time, the importance of IP reputation will slowly fade away, and the sender domain reputation will gradually acquire more weight when determining overall email reputation and deliverability. In the near future, all email anti-spam technologies will start measuring the sender domain reputation to decide what to do with an email - whether to put in Inbox or Spam.
The reputation of the email sender determines whether or not email messages will make it to the inbox or land in the spam box.
For over a decade mailbox providers have primarily looked at the IP reputation of the sender when making filtering decisions. However, in the past few years and going forward, your IP reputation will no longer enough make an informed decision about the health of your email deliverability.
Domain-based reputation provides the holistic picture
Nowadays, email box providers are factoring in dozens of different variables when making a decision about whether to place your email in the recipient's inbox or spam folder. And, the most important factor is Sender Domain Reputation.
What is the Sender Domain Reputation?
As a sender, you’ll gradually gain a reputation as you send messages over time. The content of the email, frequency, and volume of emails sent, how often they are tagged as junk, spam, bounced, open contribute to the reputation.
A good email sender domain reputation can be a result of the best practices you’ve been following; on the other hand, you'll end up with a bad reputation when you don't follow best practices. Bad reputation may prevent your emails from reaching your audience.
You can never change an IP Address to troubleshoot a domain reputation issue.
How is the Sender Domain Reputation calculated?
Individual user behavior is the main factor. This is calculated based on multiple factors, such as:
1. Engagement rate: Number of emails a user has received vs. the email open rate
2. Email Read Time: Time spent on an email to read
3. Click Rate: Number of clicks made on the email
4. Reply/ Response Rate: Whether the user replied or responded to the email
5. Sender Compliance: Following the best email delivery guidelines like;
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication standard developed by AOL that compares the email sender’s actual IP address to a list of IP addresses authorized to send mail from that domain. The IP list is published in the domain’s DNS record.
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) was designed to help ISPs prevent malicious email senders by validating email from specific domains.
Phishers and spoofers send email to unaware recipients by pretending to be a trusted sender. By verifying DKIM records, the ownership of the domain is confirmed.
DMARC stands for “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance.” DMARC is a protocol that uses DKIM and SPF to determine the authenticity of an email message. In order to act on a message, DMARC requires both DKIM and SPF to fail.
Domain Name Servers (DNS) are like the internet's phone book. They maintain a directory of domain names and translate them to Internet protocols (IPs).
rDNS is a method of re-translating an IP to a domain name.
- Proper MX record
Having a proper MX record will assist you in keeping a track of responses from ISPs and recipients. An MX record is an entry in your DNS zone file which specifies a mail server to handle a domain's email. You must configure an MX record to receive an email to your domain. You can check a DNS MX record using an online tool known as MXToolBox.
6. Business website on the sender domain
The sender domain should have a clear web presence, usually where a customer can sign up. Your sending domain must have a live and working website attached to it. It should not be under construction or a static, non-operating page. The website must have a source of collecting user data.
7. Number of spam complaints
Spam complaints are a direct signal from recipients that your SMTP emails are unwanted to the receiver.
8. Number of hard bounces
This is a permanent delivery error caused by an invalid email address (e.g. an invalid email, destination server unavailable). If you continue to email the email address, hard bounces have a negative impact on your sender domains reputation and are blocked by the ESPs.
9. Number of spam trap hits
Spam traps are email addresses that ISPs use to trap illegitimate senders who add email addresses to their mailing list without permission. If you send an email to any of the spam traps in your mailing database, ISPs might tag you as a spammer, irrespective of the quality of emails you send. It's a good thing to use a Dedicated IP. This brings you closer to your email marketing goals.
10. Spam score
Spam score is the score given to an email depending on multiple rules. The higher the score, the higher is the chance of the message being spam.
Calculate your spam score here: SenderScore.org
Considering your domain reputation as a part of the analysis is important for all – big and small, irrespective of whether you are using dedicated or shared IP addresses. That’s because of majority email box providers, who have historically looked at IP address reputation, are now also taking domain reputation and domain-based authentication into account when making filtering decisions.