Reputation

The Complete Guide to Email Marketing

What's at stake is more than just validity of the content. It's the integrity of the sender and the courier that brings it.

Whose Reputation Counts?
Good question. Everyone's. That means that your domain name matters as well as the IP address of the server your email was sent from.
A Helpful Metaphor
Imagine for a second that the content of your email message is like the passengers in a car. They are traveling from New York to Los Angeles,and there are checkpoints along the way that are judging whether or not they should be allowed to visit their final destination. Whether they are allowed in doesn't just depend on the character of the individuals in the car, but also the roads they take, the car they drive in, the gas they put in the car and - even more shocking – the other cars on the road with them. This is the kind of journey your emails face en route to their destinations!
Your Reputation is a Score
Your email reputation is like a credit score that ISPs and email security vendors use to block spam, which makes up for over 80% of all email. Individually, your return address references your domain and that domain will be assigned a score based on:
Spam Complaints
If real people report your email as spam, your reputation could be taking a hit. Many email hosts have "report spam" buttons that are easily clickable by its users.
Spam Traps
Internet Service Providers will reactivate old email addresses that are no longer used for the sole purpose of catching spam. Since the email address is old, no mail should be sent to it and anything it receives is most likely unsolicited. Spam traps are usually being sent to because of people purchasing email lists (with old addresses) or worse, legitimate marketers using stale contacts.
Hard Bounces
The number or percentage of email sent to unknown or nonexistent addresses.
Volume of Email Messages
Differences or spikes in sending volume. Both spammers and legitimate email marketers send out volumes of email, so consistency counts.
Authentication
You can think of this as your secret handshake. As the email moves along its path to the eventual inbox, an authentication process is in play to verify that the email is really coming from who it says it's from. There are three main protocols: SPF Records, DKIM and Sender ID.

Use Your Email Marketing Service's Tools to Improve Your Reputation
The factors above are aspects that you can control. You can choose to checkmark benchkmark email authentication as you send out your campaigns. You can minimize hard bounces by cleaning your lists. You can be consistent in your email marketing by scheduling your campaigns at an even keel. If you're a particularly large company or do high volume, you can elect to have your own dedicated server and IP address to ensure that your reputation is 100% yours and yours alone.
Does My Choice of Email Service Providers (ESP) Help My Reputation?
Yes, yes, and yes. The top email marketing service providers are constantly working behind the scenes so that your email campaigns have the highest delivery rates because it's in their best interest.