Most of the time you have to spend weeks, months and years working hard and slowly building a good reputation. And in business, your success and failure are tied to that reputation. When it comes to email marketing, however, reputation is a somewhat fickle entity. You start out with an impeccable reputation and a 100% trust score, and despite your best efforts, you can end up with a poor reputation in a matter of minutes.
And often, you’ll only find out that your reputation is in the toilet after you have already been added to that most terrifying of email marketers nightmares – the email blacklist. Now because email marketing offers the highest ROI of all marketing avenues, and often lies at the centre of every marketing campaign, having your emails blocked because you’ve managed to land on one of these blacklists could be a death knell for your company.
So if you are determined to keep your email reputation squeaky clean then here are the best ways to avoid IP and domain blacklists!
Clean your email lists regularly
Many businesses start their email marketing campaigns with a collection of addresses that is sometimes years old, or came from somewhat shady sources. So before you start your email marketing efforts you should use an email list verification tool to make sure every email is legitimate and active.
And no matter how you’re building your email lists, or at what rate, you should do the same with every new batch of email addresses (especially if you’re using passive opt-ins). People change their email addresses all the time, so old lists also need to be cleaned at least every 3-6 months if not more.
Use active opt-ins
No matter how you go about building your email lists, unfortunately passive opt-ins just aren’t good enough to make sure that any messages you send to those people won’t send them searching for the ‘Spam’ button.
Of course you want to extend your reach as far as possible, but the benefits of landing a few new prospects from a group of people who didn’t specifically ask to receive your marketing messages is far outweighed by the risk that they’ll report your message as spam.
Use double opt-ins
No matter how you originally got an email address, if you want to cover your bases then the best option is to use a double opt-in system. With this, people confirm that they want to receive further emails via an email you send them.
Not only does this ensure that the email they’ve provided is legitimate, it offers further protection against ever landing on an email blacklist. Just be sure that you’re clear about the types of email you plan to send, as well as who opt-ins might receive email from if you’re an affiliate or subsidiary of any kind.
Make sure your email servers are properly set up and secure
Incorrect DNS settings, timeout settings, rejection policies and malware infecting your network are some of the most common reasons that legitimate senders end up on email blacklists. That is why it is essential to ensure that email infrastructure has been set up properly.
There are companies who provide audit services to make sure you don’t inadvertently make a mistake, but you may want to consider a bulk email service provider to negate these risks. They’re pretty cost effective even if you’re a small business, and they do most of the hard work for you!
Be smart about your email practices
Bombarding your subscribers with dozens of emails every week is a sure way to find yourself on an email blacklist, especially if those emails are not very useful or poorly crafted. So take the time to plan your email campaigns and invite subscribers to visit your site for more information.
Maintain multiple lists, and don’t send someone marketing emails if they’ve only signed up for account related emails. Invest in a great email design and only include relevant content that people don’t consider spammy and you’re sure to see your engagement rates and returns grow!
Aim for email white lists
While blacklists are the email marketers worst nightmare, getting added to an email white list is a dream come true. Some blacklisting organizations maintain their own white lists, as well as many free email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo and AOL.
Based on the fact that sending dozens or hundreds of emails to the same domain can get you blacklisted – making sure that you’re on the whitelists of major email providers is definite must! You can also urge subscribers to add you to their ‘Safe Senders’ list, which means they’ll always get your emails!
Monitor your blacklist status and sender reputation
Because there are literally hundreds of different IP and Domain blacklists available today, there is no single tool that is guaranteed to check every single email blacklist in existence. However there are a number of effective online checkers that can alert you if your blacklist status changes.
And as stated, there are hundreds of email blacklists out there so there is a pretty good chance you’re going to end up on at least one of them at some point. But there are only a few that are widely used, and it is these that you should work hardest to avoid!
Don’t be a spammer!
Now this is pretty obvious, and a lot of you are thinking we’re idiots to point this out. But the surest way to end up on an email blacklist is to send unsolicited mail. And no matter how useful or wonderful your message is, if someone didn’t ask for it then they’ll report it as spam!
So do everyone a favour and make sure that you’re only sending emails to people who actually want them, don’t buy your email lists no matter how tempting it is and avoid crossing that imaginary line into the murky world of junk mail and spam!
If you do ever happen to find yourself on an email blacklist then halt your email campaign immediately, investigate why you might have ended up on that list and then follow the procedures to get yourself removed. Sending a nasty email or making an angry phone call demanding removal is not going to achieve anything, and might just get you listed for life – so stay calm, no matter how frustrating and painful the loss of potential revenue is!
Email marketing is far too important a tool to be able to survive without it for very long, but if you follow these simple tips then your chances of ending up on an email blacklist are drastically reduced. And at the end of the day, prevention is better than cure!