Lift your email reputation for best newsletter deliverability

With our few essential tips and best practices you can easily boost your email sender reputation to top tier. Learn how you can proactively monitor your email reputation and use this insight to grow your own authentic audience: newsletter subscribers who are craving to read your next publication.

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When you distribute your articles in the form of newsletters to your subscribers, one of the key metrics to look for is open and unsubscribe rates. While these metrics are extremely important, many often overlook the first step to a successful email publication.

Start with high quality content

The best tactic isn’t worth the effort if your content doesn’t resonate with your audience. Everything that helps to inform, entertain and engage your readers will result in high quality content. Visual appeal, article length, spelling and grammar, readability, your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness all contribute to the overall value of the article, but do not fully define it.

The only way to find your secret sauce that spices your readers’ engagement is by looking at the analytics of your past articles and other top-ranking sites in the same domain. Although there is no one-to-one relation, an article that ranks well in search engines will also do a good job when sent out in a newsletter format. If you don’t optimize for anything else, optimize for quality content!

Grow your own email list

It is all too tempting to buy a huge email list for your next bulk email campaign, but please refrain from doing so. The people behind those emails have no allegiance to your brand, articles or products and will probably mark the mail as spam. The damage you’ll do to your sending reputation will outweigh the very few who will “discover” your blog that way. All of these behaviors will negatively affect your sender reputation and it may take a long time to restore your reputation again.

When you use Blogody, all your published articles will display a subscribe button and a newsletter subscription section at the end of every article.

That’s the best way to get new subscribers that are looking forward to receiving your publications. The double-opt-in method also guarantees your members made a conscious decision. Yes, growing a list may be a slow process — especially in the beginning — but trust me, you’ll be rewarded in the long run.

What is email sender reputation?

I already talked about what can damage or improve your email sender reputation, but how is it determined? Email reputation is how mailbox providers decipher who is a trustworthy email sender and who is a spammer. With over 40% of spam emails worldwide, and the involved difficulty to detect it, there will never be a 100% guarantee that your email passes the spam test.

However, by understanding the factors that go into the reputation score, you can achieve a high success rate. There are multiple factors that determine the final spam score, which is the gatekeeper for allowing your newsletter into the recipient’s inbox. Let’s have a look at the most important ones:

Email spam scoring

Different systems have different strategies to determine this score. Some look at certain red flags in your email such as poor or click-baiting language, spelling errors, suspicious links or formats.

Other systems rely on user’s previous actions, which means that your newsletter is more likely marked spam when it was previously moved to a spam folder. Again, the best you can do is produce authentic, high quality content as discussed earlier.

Subscriber complaint

Most mailbox providers include a prominent Spam or Junk button in the inbox to allow people to report unwanted emails. If a user marks your newsletter that way, it will be counted as a subscriber complaint. You cannot completely eliminate these complaints, as some users confuse the spam with the trash folder, the latter of which is harmless.

Industry standard for spam complaints is less than 0.02%. That's about one complaint for every 5,000 recipients. It is therefore important to keep an eye on this metric. Blogody will automatically set a subscriber to inactive, if it detects a complaint.

That way, the subscriber will not get further publications from you. Although the complaint could be made by mistake, it is best practice to eventually remove the subscriber from your list.

Hard bounces

There are two types of situations in which emails cannot be delivered: hard and soft bounces. Soft bounces, for example due to a full inbox, are temporary and mail servers will attempt re-delivery after certain time intervals. Due to its transient nature, soft bounces are not an issue for your sender reputation.

As you may have guessed, hard bounces are something to avoid and they should be scarce if you grow your own list with Blogody. Hard bounces occur for email addresses that don’t exist or when the recipient email server has blocked delivery.

As is the case with complaints, subscribers with hard bounces will be automatically set inactive by Blogody, to exclude them from further newsletter sending.

How Blogody facilitates best sender reputation

A lot of the best practices for maintaining a good sender reputation are already built into Blogody. You can generally concentrate on creating excellent content and growing your subscriber list. Here are some important measures we take to facilitate an outstanding sender reputation for you.

Industry leading technology

When it comes to bulk email sending, one of the important prerequisites is to partner with one of the most reliable and trustworthy providers. Under the hood, Blogody uses Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) which is one of the best services worldwide. Amazon SES ensures, that your newsletter emails are sent securely, globally, and at scale.

Email layout with good spam scores

The email layouts that Blogody generates from your articles resemble closely the online publication style of the Pure Theme across many different email clients and are optimized for excellent spam scores.

This is achieved through Blogody’s domain authority and through following best practices (inclusion of unsubscribe buttons, trustworthy address headers, providing matching html and plaintext formats, and many more).

Automatic subscriber inactivation

As described for subscriber complaints and hard bounces, Blogody constantly monitors these events and automatically removes these subscribers from your active recipient list. You can still find these members under the inactive member category. In addition to these events, subscribers are also moved to the inactive list when thy press the unsubscribe button that is available to them at the end of every newsletter.

Blogody suppression lists

Blogody also maintains a suppression list across its entire user base. This suppression list prevents you from sending email to addresses that previously produced a bounce or complaint event.

That means, emails on that list will never receive an email from you or any other Blogody user again, even if you manually set them to active in your members dashboard. If you think an email is on our suppression list by mistake, please contact us directly to resolve the issue.

The only exception to this rule are unsubscribed users. You can manually re-activate newsletter sending of unsubscribed users. Please use it with caution and only do it upon explicit user consent.

Understanding the Open Rate metric

While complaints, bounces and unsubscribed users are handled by Blogody as far as possible, the open rate is something that you should actively monitor yourself. So, how is the open rate measured?

Every newsletter sent with Blogody contains an invisible 1-pixel web beacon. When a user opens the newsletter, the beacon is loaded and registers an open event. The open rate is simply the ratio of opened emails against received emails. Blogody shows this metric for every user in percent, along with the number of received and opened emails:

While this metric is a really good measure of subscriber interest and engagement, there is one caveat you must be aware of. Some email clients do not load external content unless the user explicitly allows it. In these cases, the open event is not triggered although the subscriber has actually read your article.

Unfortunately, these silent readers are technically indistinguishable from the ones that never open and read it. So, it’s important to keep in mind, that open rates might be distorted - your actual open rate is likely better than the rates shown in your dashboard. Also keep in mind the time lag between receiving and opening an email. While some users open every new email immediately others open it only after weeks.

While its important to keep these caveats in mind, there is an incentive for your subscribers to allow loading external content: only then can they enjoy the styles and fonts of the Pure Theme layout and see the images of your article. Thus, I expect both the number of silent and late readers to be small.

What you can do to lift your sender reputation

Most of the reputation management is taken care of by Blogody, but here is what you can do to lift your reputation even further:

  1. Prioritize high quality and engaging content

  2. Grow your own subscriber list (avoid paid lists)

  3. Monitor unreachable and churned subscribers: complaints, bounces, unsubscribes and eventually remove them from your list

  4. Optimize for high open rates (it should correlate with your website analytics) and low number of unsubscribes

Some marketers recommend to remove subscribers with zero or low open rates, but due to the fuzziness of that metric, it’s a hard choice to make as you may kick out a loyal subscriber. On the other hand, user’s that never read your newsletter may be more tempted to mark it as spam in the future.

There is no right or wrong here and you are in a better position to make a decision that fits into your audience strategy.

Summary

Attaining an outstanding email sender reputation is an invaluable asset for building your own audience. As outlined in this article, Blogody handles important events like bounces and unsubscribes automatically and protects you (and other platform users) from actions that could potentially damage your sender reputation.

Nonetheless, your actions are vital in establishing a high reputation score. Past user engagement plays an important role in determining whether your emails make it through the spam filter or not. If you’ve previously had high open rates, low spam complaints, and a low bounce rate, then your email sender reputation will be strong.

Conversely, if your emails generally receive low opens, high bounce rates, or contacts tend to mark your emails as junk, then your sender reputation will suffer and you might be classified as spam.

By understanding the key metrics and by taking appropriate actions as explained in this article, you are in an excellent position to build, grow and nurture your own audience — without any black magic.

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