Do you know how much your email reputation matters?

By Jeff Hemming, Product Manager – Marketing Solutions, Tikit North America.

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Do you know how much your email reputation matters?

Do law firm marketers know all they need to about email reputation? Jeff Hemming, Tikit’s Product Manager, Marketing Solutions, thinks not – largely because email reputation is only just beginning to appear on most marketers’ radar. In this blog he explains what email reputation is, outlines why you should care, and suggests what marketers should be doing about it.

Did you know that up to 25 per cent of your emails won’t ever arrive if you have a poor email reputation? Indeed, that 83 per cent of undelivered emails are a result of it? This makes email reputation a very real issue. Yet when I presented on this topic at the LMA Conference in April – the thing that struck me most is that so few legal firm marketers had ever even heard of it.

The stark fact is that no matter how beautifully crafted your campaign, if your reputation is low, your emails might never reach the intended recipient’s inbox. So marketers have to get up to speed on email reputation and effectively manage it.

What is email reputation?

Here’s how it works. Every domain name has its own unique email reputation – which is expressed as a score, usually out of 100. The ‘score’ of each domain is built up by ‘grading’ every mailing against a number of criteria, principally: the number of bounce-backs; number of complaints; number of spam reports; number of times you send to a ‘spam-trap’; properly identified domains.

A handful of commercial organizations calculate these ‘email reputation’ scores using their own bespoke algorithms, so your score may vary a little from measurement service to measurement service.

The top services are:

As well, your score will go up and down over time. Send a large mailing out to a bad list and it will go down; send a large mailing to a very clean, current list and it will go up again. The bottom line though is that the higher your reputation score, the more of your emails get delivered.

By the way, email reputation has actually been around for a number of years. It’s just that in the past it was treated as a back-room, technical issue. However, because marketers in effect build their own reputation, and because that reputation has an impact on deliverability, you need to pay attention.

The profile of email reputation is also rising because the internet is groaning under the weight of huge slabs of spam. According to TrendMicro’s tracking 1 billion emails are sent every day – the majority of which are junk. The keepers of the web are trying to tackle this issue, and email reputation is one route.

Why should we care?

Your email reputation score is what the internet uses to judge whether you are trustworthy as an emailer, or not. Marketers should care about email reputation because your score influences the deliverability of your emails.

As a rule of thumb, scores in the 90 – 100 range mean your emails will go through virtually all the time without exception. Once the score goes under 80, your deliverability rates start declining. Score under 60 and your emails will really start to struggle and run the risk of being blacklisted. The smaller the score, the fewer of your emails will get through.

Remember, what you do influences the score, but the score itself is produced by third parties. The only way to change your score is by your actions.

What should we do about it?

Email marketers do need to act. The first task is to find out the scores of the domain names for which you’re responsible by contacting one of the services listed above.

Whether your score is good, bad or indifferent, you then need to put some procedures in place to monitor your email reputation score going forward so that you can keep an eye on how it’s performing.

Next marketers should do what they can to increase their score. The key actions are:

  • avoid purchased mailing lists
  • use only opted-in lists
  • avoid old mailing lists
  • put systems in place to stop bounce-backs being resent until validated (technology exists that will do the validation for you)
  • make sure you are not sending emails that are labelled as spam
  • send at consistent times and consistent volumes
  • work with your IT team to ensure your technical infrastructure is properly identified and compliant with the latest standards
  • systematically pay attention to and deal with emails marked as spam, as complaints and as abusive  – this shows you to be a responsible email user and bolsters your score.

In conclusion: marketers would do well to take email reputation seriously. Remember that if your emails don’t even get delivered, all your efforts are in vain. To get your content read, to build engagement, to enhance the circle of trust that your communications want to engender – first they need to arrive. So get started on your email reputation today!