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How Do You Fix a Bad Reputation?

image of "Bad" email

In my last post, “The Reputation Score You’re Not Checking and Should Be” we looked at ways to monitor your email reputation. Your email reputation determines whether companies like Hotmail and Yahoo deliver your email messages to your customer’s inbox or spam folder. Email providers are very aggressive at keeping unwanted emails out of inboxes. Yahoo rejects 7 out of 8 emails. Hotmail rejects 1 out of 3 emails.

As I mentioned previously, customers can’t respond to messages they don’t know that they have so inbox delivery is critically important to generating the sales prospects we’re all looking for.

If you’ve discovered that you have a bad email reputation, here are seven steps you can take to fix it:

1. Eliminate spam traps. Spam traps are inactive email accounts that email providers monitor to identify spammers. Their justification is if the accounts aren’t active anymore then they should not be receiving email which means you are emailing to someone who hasn’t requested it.

Repercussions of sending to a spam trap can be severe such as having all of your emails blocked to that provider until you remove these spam traps from your list. Of course the difficulty is that no one will tell you which email address is the spam trap.

One option is to take a break from emailing your whole list and only send to those that have opened your emails. This will help you eliminate the spam traps on your list while dramatically increasing your open rates which the email providers like to see. I know eliminating people from your mailing list is blasphemous to some, but if they haven’t opened an email from you in the last year, how much of a loss is that prospect?

2. Reduce spam complaints. Add an unsubscribe link to the top of your emails to make it easier for people to unsubscribe – rather than just at the bottom. Studies show that a large percentage of people who report email as spam have actually requested the email so you want to make it as easy as possible for people to unsubscribe rather than hitting the “this is spam” button.

3. Analyze your message and frequency to make sure you are not creating database fatigue by over-sending messages that folks don’t want. Practice the email Golden Rule: email unto others as you would email to yourself. Does the customer who just purchased from you need to receive your email about the big sale you have going on?

4. See if your email service will allow you to create a suppression list. This is a list of email addresses that will not be imported/emailed which helps you pre-emptively avoid sending to bad email addresses. For instance, you might add prefixes such as “info@ or noreply@” and domains such as “ or yahoo.c0m” If you need ideas for this list, look at your email addresses that are bouncing.

5. Make sure you are automatically removing opt-outs, complaints and bounces. And then make sure you don’t continue to email unsubscribers after 10 days which not only leads to more spam complaints but can result in up to a $16,000 per incident fine from the FTC.

6. Set up feedback loops if you haven’t already. A feedback loop enables email providers to let you know the identity of people who have complained about your email so you can remove them from your list.

7. Getting blacklisted can also be due to identity issues with your sending domain. The three main causes of identity issues are incorrect records, sender authentication configuration issues, and basic DNS setup problems.

It’s a slow process to rebuild an email reputation but it is definitely worth the effort. Once you are back in the good graces of the email providers then apply for whitelisting status. Once you rebuild your reputation, make sure you regularly monitor it so you don’t find yourself back in the spam folder.

Are you practicing all 7 of these Steps?

  • K
  • March 22, 2012
Love the email feedback loops, I was not familiar with those.  Great information, thanks Malinda!
  • M
    Marc Bodner
  • March 23, 2012
This is tremendous information and should be very helpful with dealers who have trouble with spam reviews.  Most dealerships however suffer from a few poor reviews without a process for making sure those particular reviews don't overly influence their rating.  That process must include customer feedback loops, immediate alerts to dealership management for response, and a process to collect reviews that enables the full content file of reviews to be more influential.
  • E
  • May 27, 2012