How to Improve Your Sender Reputation Score and Raise Your Deliverability Rates

Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia
Avatar for Kat Garcia Kat Garcia

July 22, 2021

11 min read

How to Improve Your Sender Reputation Score and Raise Your Deliverability Rates

Sender reputation score is the secret tool that will drive your deliverability rates through the roof. Contrary to what you might think, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with your current and potential customers online. This remains true to even the younger, more tech-savvy generation.

That being said, an email campaign won’t deliver the best ROI if your emails aren’t even reaching your target inboxes. The key to any successful email marketing campaign has a lot to do with your sender reputation score. With a good score, you can increase your deliverability rates and ensure the best return on your investment.

Today, it is crucial to maintain strong email notoriety and understand how your sender reputation impacts your marketing efforts, ROI, and deliverability of your emails.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about your sender reputation and how to raise your deliverability rates.

Sender reputation scores and deliverability scores

On average, 121 emails are received per day for the normal business person. If that’s the case, and assuming it takes 30 seconds to read each one, that means that it would take over an hour each day just to read through emails. Due to this, this is where sender reputation comes in.

IPS will block unwanted or seemingly spam messages to prevent recipients from receiving unnecessary junk in their inboxes so they can focus on their more important or time-sensitive emails.

The sender reputation score serves as a protective barrier from inboxes becoming cluttered with unwanted emails. This process is carried out by an algorithmic analysis, with zero invasion of an email’s privacy or personal information. After the continuous verification that automatically occurs, the IPS provider sets the sender’s score, and if it happens to be low, then your message may end up in the spam folder.

What is sender reputation?

First off, sender reputation is the numerical score that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to an organization that sends emails. The higher the score, the more likely an ISP will deliver emails to the inboxes. Your reputation score basically signals to an email inbox whether or not you’re a spammer.

Email inbox providers use your IP reputation (AKA your IP score, sender score, or email sender reputation) to determine if your email should be delivered to the desired inbox.

If you want to make sure that your emails don’t end up directly in the spam folder, the first step is to avoid common mistakes that damage the reputation of your sending IP address.

Multiple factors go into determining your sender reputation score. Some include:

  • How many emails are being sent by an organization
  • How many recipients mark the email as spam or complain to the ISP about the messages
  • How often do the emails hit the ISP’s spam trap
  • If the organization is on any blacklists
  • How many of the emails bounce because they were sent to unknown recipients
  • How many recipients reply, open, forward, or delete the emails
  • How many recipients unsubscribe from the particular organization’s email list

As mentioned above, the algorithm will take into account all these variables of what happens when you send your email and determine your score. The higher the score, the more likely your emails will pass the spam traps and get delivered to the desired inboxes.

However, there are a few more factors to consider. ISP’s will also analyze the body of your email. Emails with several buttons such as “Click here”, “Subscribe” or “Learn more”, usually will go to the spam folder.

Additionally, it is up to you to take into account the content and the relevance of your message.

You wouldn’t want to send a tampon promotion to a list of male subscribers because the chances of them opening the email would be a lot lower than if it was delivered to women’s inboxes.

The number of recipients who receive the email, voluntarily click and access the webpage would be seen as an indication of confidence from the sender and will be taken into consideration by the ISP to determine your score.

Why is a sender reputation important?

The biggest incentive is because it is one of the key reasons for success in any email marketing campaign. Emails from senders with a lower sender reputation score are at greater risk of being rejected or automatically sent to the spam folder.

You work so hard on your email campaigns or have important information for your recipients, you want to make sure that your emails are delivered. This is why you need to have a good sender reputation score -with a higher score you increase the chances of your email reaching your target audience’s eyeballs.

Email providers will do their best to protect their users with spam filters to weed out any emails or senders that aren’t worthy of reaching their primary inbox.

Past user engagement is also taken into account when determining whether emails will move past the spam filter or not. If you have had high open and click through rates, low spam complaints, and low bounce rate this will ultimately help your sender reputation and make it stronger.

However, on the flip side, if your emails have a generally low open rate, fewer click-throughs, high bounce rates or your recipients tend to mark your emails as spam, then your sender reputation will definitely take a hit and suffer.

How does a spam trap work and how to avoid it

There are multiple types of spam traps, and you can hit one completely without knowingly doing anything wrong. It depends on the way the traps were created.

Pure Spam Trap

These are the addresses that have never been used by anyone. They have been opted into a mailing list, used to sign up for an account or handed out on a business card. The only way this trap could possibly end up on your subscriber list is if it was obtained without permission.

Pure spam traps are set up with the sole intention of luring in the spammers, which is done by leaving these emails out as bait. Addresses placed on the internet where people or robots harvesting emails will illegitimately find them and fall prey to them. However, if you get a hold of them and add them to your email list, now you have fallen prey to them and it will affect your sender score.

Recycled Email Addresses

This kind of trap you could hit even if every single email on the list was obtained with proper consent. They are still bad news because sending to these addresses can make you appear as a spammer.

Recycled spam traps are very old email addresses that are no longer used by the original owner. They have been abandoned for so long that the provider has repurposed them as a way to expose and block emails from senders who are not responsibly managing their email marketing campaigns.

If you are hitting a recycled spam trap that indicates that you are not keeping your lists up to date (which you can do by removing inactive subscribers and managing bounced emails).

Invalid email addresses

If someone subscribes using an email address that has a typo, or a deliberately fake address, and you use it, then you run the risk of falling into this spam trap. Just out of pure coincidence.


An email with a typo in the domain, such as @gnial or .con, is some of the most common spam traps because typos happen naturally and frequently.

Fake Addresses

Most commonly, website registrations and shopping cart forms are where fake email addresses occur. If you have ever had to put your email address for a ‘free promo code’ you can understand how this happens, and it happens often.

What can you do to best avoid these spam traps? CLEAN. YOUR. LISTS. Stay tuned, we’ll get into the best way to clean your email lists below.

A negative sender reputation and the doom that comes with it

There is a multitude of factors that can impact your sender reputation, as we mentioned above.

However, an important factor to note is that sometimes a high bounce rate is caused by sending multiple emails to multiple addresses that are no longer valid. This can happen because organizations try to cut corners by renting or buying existing email lists without validating or cleaning these lists.

The impact of bad data can lead to damage to your sender score. Keeping a subscriber or email list clean helps you avoid emails bouncing, which is an essential and effective way to keep your reputation score high!

It’s important to stress that there is no point in wasting your time on an excellent email marketing campaign when it won’t even get delivered. Although your email may be a great one, sending it to a list of unclean or damaged emails will hurt you in the long run.

Instead, you need to keep your lists clean and have a good sender reputation score to ensure your hard work pays off and your emails get delivered.

How can you improve your sender reputation?

Fun fact: did you know that roughly 45% of all emails sent are considered spam?

Let’s talk about how to improve your sender reputation.

Step 1: Know your sender reputation score

The rule of thumb is that you want to be above 90 but if it falls between 50 and 90, then you should take a look at what’s going on and see where you can start to improve your score. However, if you fall below 50 you need to act fast, things are serious if you are below 50.

There are a few different ways that you can check your sender reputation score. Here we’ll list a few to get you started:

  • There is, which will measure your reputation from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the better reputation you have and your deliverability rate. Numbers are calculated on a rolling 30-day average where it will rank you against other IP addresses.
  • A real-time database of IP addresses, where they rank you with either a ‘poor’ or ‘good’ reputation. Provided by Barracuda Networks, under their Barracuda Reputation System.
  • Another tool you can use is Google Postmaster Tools. Google offers their Postmaster Tool which allows you to track data at a high volume sending it into Gmail. They provide IP reputation, domain reputation, Gmail delivery errors, and more.

You can also measure your reputation by tracking your email marketing metrics. Take a look at your open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and engagement rates. These are the KPI’s you need to be looking out for.

Step 2: Collect quality emails

This depends on if you have your own list of emails or if you’ve purchased a list from a third party. The key here is to collect only high-quality emails. By using a real-time email verification tool, you can easily check if your emails are of high or low quality.

Step 3: Check if you’re on any black lists

If your emails are continuously not performing well, it could be that you have been cited on one or more blacklists. Here are a couple tips to help get you off any blacklists:

  • Self service removal. There are some blacklists out there where you can remove your IP address off the blacklist without too much hassle. However, you will want to make sure that you have any and all issues resolved before doing so; because if you don’t and your IP address gets listed again, then it won’t be as easy to remove the next time.
  • Time based removal. Most blacklists have a built in and automatic process that will remove lower level listings, but if an IP address had sent spam more than once or at a high volume, the time period will be longer.
  • You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. When you’re trying to get off a blacklist, you’ll get farther along if you follow the rules and cooperate. The more open and direct you are with a listing database, the easier it may be to have your IP address taken off the blacklist.

Step 4: Clean your lists!

Using a bulk email verification service will save you time, sweat, and maybe even tears. The hygiene of your mailing list is key to preventing hard bounces and removing poor quality email addresses.

Step 5: Segment your list

This is based on how segmented your mailing list is, stop sending emails to the least engaged addresses. Try to focus on those who are engaging back with your emails and reaffirming that they want to continue receiving your emails.

Additionally, you should try targeting your customer base. Not everyone has the same interests, and not everyone is at the same stage of the customer funnel.

You can strategically target your audience by personalizing your campaigns into different segments and help improve your open rate. When information is relevant it is way more likely to be opened (remember: having a higher open rate will help your sender reputation score).

Step 6: Keep your email strategy fresh and engaging

Users will get tired of seeing the same emails or the same information over and over again. Keep your email campaigns interesting and always provide value with each email you send.

This could be adding a case study for them to read and help further their business or promotional information that will keep your business in the back of their minds for future searches.

You’ve improved your sender reputation, now what?

Now that you have a great sender reputation and know your score, it is time to get your email campaigns ready to rock and roll.

Let’s go over your checklist:

  1. You have a great email marketing campaign
  2. You’ve checked your sender reputation score and it’s high
  3. Now, it’s time to clean your lists.

What is the use of an email list if not all the emails are deliverable?! If you send your campaign without checking your list you are running the risk of your sender reputation score being damaged!

A lot of lists are outdated, with typos, or have fake email addresses. The best way to ensure that your hard work gets seen is by cleaning up your lists! The most efficient and competent way to clean your lists, no matter the size, is with Emailable!

With Emailable you get features like:

  • Disposable email detection: checking your emails against a frequently updated list of known temporary addresses.
  • Email verification API: add their API directly to your platform and seamlessly remove user data.
  • Misspelled domain detection: identifying all common typos in email addresses and suggesting alternatives.
  • Syntax validation: ensuring all addresses have the necessary characteristics of a legitimate address.
  • Email quality score provides each email on the list a quality score from 0 to 100.
  • Real-time results: view your results as they process your list in real-time.

Those are just to name a few, there are many many more. Your email account’s reputation is a reflection of your company or operation. It is imperative to have digital reliability for your customers. The entire process of digital campaigns should be done in a concise and coherent manner.

If there is anything you need to take away from this article is the importance of your sender reputation and how it will help improve your deliverability rates. The better your sender reputation, the higher the chances of success in your campaigns. You can count on Emailable to ensure that your mailing list is efficient and clean, protecting your sender score and deliverability rates.

Want to see the benefits for yourself? Start running your email verifications right away!

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