Email marketing has come a long way over the past few years.

Many would associate you with spammers at just the mere mention of email marketing not long ago.

Email marketing’s reputation has been won in part by the impressive Return On Investment that it offers.

The other part is that marketers have gotten smarter. They’ve learned best practices and put them to use.

Marketers have begun to learn and accept that it’s the quality, and not the size, of your list that counts.

List health is imperative to succeeding with email marketing.

Aside from sending only to the individuals who want to hear from you, there are other dangers to keeping an old, outdated or inactive list.

Aside from raising bounce rates from unengaged subscribers, you can suffer a much worse fate in being blacklisted.


A blacklist is a virtual list of email senders that have been deemed and labeled as spammers.

Creators of these lists are organizations that are committed to fighting spam on the internet. Organizations such as Spamhaus are widely regarded as leaders in fighting spam.

Service providers also have their own blacklist, but service providers can also subscribe to Spamhaus to block even more spammers.

The most common way to get onto a blacklist is by not cleaning your list, removing unsubscribes or constantly getting spam complaints.

This starts a battle that is complicated to win.

If you find yourself blacklisted, you are likely to receive a very strict call from your ESP requiring you to take action and resolve the issue.

Steps to Follow if You’re Blacklisted

You first have to find out which blacklist you are on.

Spamhaus publishes a widely used list, but there are others as well.

You can check which blacklist your IP address resides in, using tools such as MXtoolbox or MultiRBL. These tools will check the blacklists they support and inform you which lists that you are in.

Once you have identified the list you are on, you can now request for delisting.

You will need to visit the organization’s website (if they have one) and find where they take delisting requests.

Sometimes the organization just ask for an IP address. Others may ask for more information such as company name and the reason for requesting. Additional information to include might be the URLs where your subscribers can opt-in and possibly even some examples of the types of emails you send.

Next is nobody’s favorite: the waiting game.

The organization will review your request and take actions they think is appropriate. If you have properly collected the emails in your list and are practicing proper email etiquette, you should be fine and will be delisted.

If your Domain-Name or IP Address is blacklisted at any ISP, you need to send them a request them to be removed from their blacklist (de-listed).

Here are the basic steps that you should follow for the whitelisting/de-listing procedure at the ISP in question:

  1. You should follow the URL links & apply for whitelisting/de-listing using their online form. And/or:
  2. You should send an email to the mentioned email address.

List of ISP’s:

List of Blacklist’s [RBL/DNSBL]:

It’s Better to Avoid Being Blacklisted

There are things that can prevent a nightmare and possibly days without email.

Keep your list(s) clean, honor unsubscribe requests and use double opt-in.

You can even use list verification to help weed out the bad our outdated addresses in your list(s).

It’s best to find a list hygiene routine that makes sense for you. It could be once per quarter, monthly or even before every campaign you send.

Pay close attention to who is and who isn’t opening your email addresses. Remove the ones who consistently do not. This will help to keep you from hitting spam traps or other missteps that will land you on a blacklist.