A Quick Guide to Boosting Your Email Domain Reputation

How many emails do you send every day? 

With 2023 seeing a total of around 347.3 billion emails sent each day, there’s a good chance your answer would be a significant number. 

For businesses, emails remain one of their primary ways of both marketing and communicating with their customers through newsletters and other content. 

When it comes to email marketing, it’s also a tactic that represents a very healthy ROI (return on investment). 

In fact, you could see between $36 and $40 ROI for every dollar you spend. 

But when it comes to emails, sending or receiving, how much attention do you give to the email domain? 

Email domain reputation can be a very important factor in success. 

Just what is it, and how can you improve it?

What is Email Domain Reputation?

When you look at an email address, the domain is the bit that comes after @. With a personal account, you may have an account with Gmail, Yahoo, or one of the other providers. For businesses, you will find that most have a more professional domain and usually one that matches their website domain. 

Having a domain that’s the same as your website looks more professional and, along with a strong subject line, will be more likely to entice a customer to open the mail and read it. But that customer won’t know about email domain reputation, though if the address has a poor reputation, the email may end up in their spam folder regardless of the domain name.

If you create a digital brochure for prospective customers, then you – of course – want it read by as many people as possible. But if you have a poor domain reputation, you will find that bounces and spam rates are going to increase, thus reducing the effectiveness of your brochure.

How Many Emails Are Sent Per Day
How Many Emails Are Sent Per Day

Providers measure email domain reputation on a scale from bad to high. Every time you send an email from your domain, it is scored by those providers for different factors. At this point, it would be great to be able to tell you how those points are awarded, but, sadly, it is arcane knowledge known only by a few.

If you have a good domain reputation, your emails are more likely to end up in customers’ inboxes. If it’s poor, then hello, spam folder! While we may not know the exact scoring system used by providers, some factors are likely involved. If you haven’t verified your email domain, then it is probable that you will remain toward the bottom of any scale.

Another factor that may affect you is the volume of emails sent. If you send out a large volume and don’t use special email software, then there’s a strong chance that your reputation will be damaged. Your email domain reputation, combined with your IP address reputation, can determine where you sit on the scale.

5 Most Common Domain Extensions
5 Most Common Domain Extensions

What Happens if Your Email Domain Reputation is Poor?

Regardless of whether it’s a free or paid email domain, if it’s a poor name it can damage your reputation and lead to your emails going to customers’ spam folders. But, what are the other effects you could see?

What Might Affect Email Domain Reputation?

We might not know the exact scoring system used by ESPs, but it’s not overly difficult to identify bad practices that will likely reduce your domain reputation score. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Spammy Email Practices

Spam Trigger Words
Spam Trigger Words

Email outreach may be an integral part of your strategy, but it needs to be done correctly. If you just dash off some content, add some links, and then send en masse to your email list, then it might be time to think more carefully about your email practices.

Remember that 347.3 billion figure from 2023? Well, every single one of those emails will have been analyzed by the ESPs. There are a few things they look for in those emails.

Lack of mobile optimization. With almost 60% of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, neglecting this demographic is a red flag to ESPs.

2. Inconsistent messaging

ESPs like consistency. It’s safe and can mean that an email domain is trustworthy. This is one of the main reasons professional marketers plan campaigns carefully to match previous patterns as closely as possible. There are a few things that might set off alarm bells.

3. Sending from a new domain

Many businesses often set up new domain names when expanding their business or what they offer. For example, if you’re starting to sell branded merchandise, you might purchase a completely separate domain called mybusinessmerch.com. Or you might use a subdomain instead, such as merch.mybusiness.com (this is an extension of your existing site, so you don’t have to pay for a new domain).

However, ESPs are not always aware that there has been a domain name vs subdomain change. If they see a high volume of emails coming from (what they see as) a new domain, then they may suspect you have bought your email list and act accordingly.

How to Improve Your Email Domain Reputation

The first step in maintaining a good email domain reputation is to avoid some of the bad practices listed. But how can you be active in ensuring that you get a good reputation and keep it?

1. Build or Rebuild Trust

If you want to build a good domain reputation or if your reputation has suffered, one step you can take is to increase the perception of trust in your emails. Send emails to solid contacts and/or customers and ask them – politely – to either not mark them as spam (or if in the spam folder, to move them to inbox) or to reply to them.

This will signal to your ESP that people want to read your emails and that you can be trusted.

2. Authenticate Your Domain

ESPs want to see authenticated domains. That starts with your sender policy framework (SPF), an email authentication protocol that detects spoofing and prevents unauthorized sending from your domain. It acts as a foundation for verifying your identity. 

To add to your email domain’s legitimacy, you also want to configure your DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which adds a digital signature to your domain, and your Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), which checks SPF and DKIM.

How does DMARC work
How does DMARC work

3. Review Your List Regularly

Circumstances and people change. That means someone who might have engaged regularly with your emails no longer has any interest. Review your list on a regular basis and remove any customers who no longer engage with you

Also, pay close attention to addresses that register soft or hard bounces. Keeping your email list ‘fresh’ can help improve your domain reputation.

4. Don’t Send Too Many Emails

Keep a close eye on the volume of emails you send, especially if you’re beginning your email marketing journey. ESPs will flag new domains that send high volumes of emails, so start small and slowly build, even if you have a contact list from your parent domain.

5. Segment Your List

Try not to have one large mailing list. Segment your list according to relevant factors such as age or geographical location. You can then use analytics to identify if any of your segmented groups are producing poor open or CTR (click-through) rates. In turn, this can help you when it comes to reviewing and cleaning your email lists.

6. Make Sure Content is Relevant

Organizational Goals for B2B Content Marketing
Organizational Goals for B2B Content Marketing

They say content is king, and this is also true when it comes to your emails. Avoid using any trigger words or phrases, and that includes the email subject line. By ensuring your content is relevant and not spammy, you have a better chance of improving your reputation. For subject lines, use A/B testing to be sure they work.

7. Ensure Regulatory Compliance

Be sure that your emails comply with any email marketing regulations, including data protection laws. If you practice any form of cold email marketing, it’s essential that you comply with any laws that apply, or you may face substantial financial penalties.

8. Use a Consistent Sending Strategy

As we mentioned earlier, ESPs like consistency. That means you should keep the pace, volume, and content consistent in any strategy. Any sudden changes to any of those factors will be noticed and could adversely affect your domain reputation. Review and audit your email tactics as often as possible to ensure you’re remaining consistent.

9. Optimize for Mobile Devices

Given how many people use mobile devices, ensuring your emails are optimized for mobile should be paramount. If someone can’t read your email content on their mobile device, then you could lose that customer. This is an area that ESPs look for and if you have neglected to optimize your emails for mobiles, it could damage your domain reputation.

10. Confirm Opt-in

As well as making it easy for people to opt out, you should consider confirming that they do want to opt in. While you may grow your mailing list with a single opt-in option, asking people to confirm their signup via email ensures that a mistake has not been made and that they have a genuine interest in your brand.

Factors Affecting Sender Reputation
Factors Affecting Sender Reputation

11. Use Analytics

As well as analyzing data from any segmented groups, you can also use analytics provided by your ESP to track more general data. If the data shows poor results, such as low open rates or high rates of spam reports, then you know that something is not working and that you need to review the content or how you email. Focus on data-driven marketing as much as possible.

12. Check Blacklists Regularly

If your emails get reported as spam, or if other factors raise concerns, you may appear on an email blacklist. By following the advice here, you should avoid being blacklisted, but it’s still worth checking you are not on any blacklists. This is a relatively easy task, and there are multiple online tools that allow you to check regularly.

Key Takeaways for Email Domain Reputation

While the purpose of emails can vary from business to business, their importance can be equal to every one of those organizations. 

Whether you are looking to generate leads or to inform customers of special offers, you want as many people as possible to open those emails and engage with the content.

Your email domain reputation is the beating heart of all your email tactics. If that reputation is damaged, there could be severe knock-on effects for the rest of your business.

Ensuring that your heart is healthy and that you maintain a good domain reputation can mean you can get the positive effects that come with a good reputation.

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Edgar Abong

Edgar is a skilled software developer with a passion for building and evaluating software products. His expertise in software development enables him to provide in-depth evaluations of software products. He can draw out insights about features, functionality and user experience.

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