How To Improve Email Sender Reputation: Hacks And Tips

Email sender reputation hacks and tips

Reputation can make or break your business. A good reputation helps win new clients, build trust with existing customers, and gain a competitive advantage. Meanwhile, a bad reputation will drive clients away and slash your revenue.

Likewise, a bad email sender reputation can hurt your email marketing efforts and affect your email deliverability, which determines if your emails will end up in the inbox or the Spam folder.

This can further determine the click and open rates. And if nobody receives your emails and clicks on them, then what’s the point of sending them? 

Even seemingly unrelated factors can play a part in determining where your messages end up.

For example, a properly configured LiteSpeed web server guarantees a fast, reliable, and secure hosting environment, which, in turn, convinces the recipient server that the source is legitimate.

Only 85% of emails make it to the recipient’s inbox, and the email churn rate is between 25% and 30%. This is why improving email sender reputation must be one of the factors you should consider in your email marketing efforts.

What is an email sender reputation?

Email sender reputation is a score Internet Service Providers (ISPs) assign to you based on several factors that include:

  • Number of messages sent
  • Email sending frequency
  • Number of recipients that mark your messages as spam 
  • Spam traps
  • Bounces
  • Opens, replies, forwards, and link clicks
  • Number of unsubscribed users

sender reputation

It’s also tied to the domain emails are being sent from. That is, wherever an email is sent from that domain, it builds up its reputation. Using domains known for sending unsolicited messages can make your business invisible in the email world, as you have a high chance of ending up in a Spam folder.

How to check email sender reputation?

You are probably curious what your email sender reputation is. There’s a variety of tools that give pretty specific information about it. 

For example, you can check email reputation using a free tool like Sender Score. It will measure your reputation and provide a score from 0 to 100 (with 80+ being a great result). Numbers are calculated on a rolling 30-day average; you will see how your IP address ranks compared to other IP addresses. A high email sender score translates to a high sender reputation.

sender score

Do you have a negative sender reputation? Would you like to fix it or avoid the pitfall? Here are nibe hacks and tips that will set you on the right path.

How to improve email sender reputation

Quality email lists

There are different ways to own an apartment. You can either buy one or build one from scratch; either way, it’s yours. However, when it comes to email lists, the best practice is to build one from scratch

Don’t buy email lists. First, you will be in direct violation of anti-spam laws –  the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, the European Union GDP, and the CAN-SPAM Act are examples. 

Furthermore, you might be falling into a trap – a spam trap. These are email addresses that are added to certain email lists. When you send an email to such an address, spam filters are triggered. As a result, you are putting your IP reputation at risk, and you can be blacklisted. 

email finder

Double opt-in emails

If you shouldn’t buy email lists, then what’s the best practice? 

There are many. For example, the double opt-in option means you are explicitly asking for people’s permission before sending them emails. That is, recipients will have to click a link in the body of an activation email sent to the address supplied upon signup. 

The double opt-in option aims to help you build a quality email list – a collection of email addresses used by real people who regularly check and send out messages. A successful email campaign starts with a quality list that you can use to send marketing materials to multiple recipients. And in its turn, a quality list will lead to quality prospects. 

Confirmation email example
Confirmation email example (Source: BEE Free)

IP credibility 

Building a quality email list through double opt-ins is not necessarily a guarantee that you have a credible IP. 

IP (internet protocol) credibility is defined by the quality of your email sending environment. Your email content can be fully compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act or other anti-spam laws and still trigger spam filters. These spam filters are used by major ISPs to detect spam emails. 

Improving your credibility becomes valuable in helping email receiving networks to decide if the content is relevant and should be delivered or sent to the Spam folder. With 0.1% acceptability for emails reported as spam through a particular IP address, ISP tolerance for spammy messages has become thin. You must, therefore, have a framework of working with different ISPs to ensure that their users are not bombarded with spam. 

Note: IP addresses are unique identifiers of email streams and can be either shared or dedicated. By having a dedicated IP address, you can control your IP reputation without worrying about other senders’ bad practices.

Domain reputation

ISPs are increasingly looking at email domains too. It’s better to set up your email domain authentication with Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

SPF includes a list of the authenticated IPs that can send emails using your domain. Meanwhile, the DKIM signature is added to all of your emails and helps verify that the message was not changed after it was sent. As a result, it will be much harder to spoof your email address, and it will improve your reputation considerably.


To be blacklisted by an ISP hurts your sender reputation. It means your emails will get flagged by spam filters, and they won’t get to the recipients’ Inbox. And we bet you can’t afford to be blacklisted. 

Meanwhile, when you’re whitelisted, it has the opposite effect. It’s a proven and tested hack that can help you boost your sender reputation. 

How can you achieve this? In your welcome email, include a request to be whitelisted. You will most likely not head to an app store to rate a product if you are not prompted to do so. You can also politely ask your subscribers to add you to their address book.

Whitelisting email example
Whitelisting email example (Source: OptinMonster)

In subsequent emails, you can employ subtle promptings as well, where you can remind your clients to whitelist you if they have not done so yet.

Targeted and relevant content

Remember that while asking people to opt-in for your content, it’s important to ensure it’s targeted, relevant, and useful to them. Otherwise, you will come off as annoying and spammy. The fact that people gave you their email addresses willingly doesn’t mean you can send them any content. They can still complain about your email if it’s irrelevant, and you can be blacklisted.

Average complaint rate by email sender reputation score
Average complaint rate by email sender reputation score (Source: Return Path)

One of the most valuable hacks that can aid your email marketing efforts is to use segmentation. There are several ways to sort and segment your email lists. Segmentation will depend on how much information you have and your specific marketing goals. You will find more information on segmentation here.

Targeted and relevant content is much more possible with segmentation. You can speak to specific needs and interests. When this is done right, your clicks and the open rate will improve.


A stitch in time saves nine. You can be saving your business’s email reputation by just being on time! 

Timing is crucial in email marketing. It’s not enough to have all the relevant and targeted content; the right content has to reach the right person at the right time. Millions of emails are sent daily. And if you don’t want your content to get lost in the shuffle, you need to send your message at the time your audience will most likely engage.

According to research data, Tuesday is said to be the #1 day to send emails. Conclusively, the best time to send out your emails is between 10 a.m and 11 a.m. Find out more about the best time to send emails, according to science, here.


A negative sender reputation is sometimes a result of a lack of engagement. An indication of a lack of engagement is when your open rate starts to decline. You might want to consider remarketing to your disengaged subscribers. 

A re-engagement campaign will help you determine subscribers who are still interested in relevant content, as well as filter out those that are not. This is achievable by sending more targeted content. 

Ensuring customer engagement includes tools, avenues, and strategies utilized to maintain ongoing communication with clients across all touchpoints. 


Finally, your entire email marketing campaign can be automated. That means unified marketing automation software can optimize your campaign performance from start to finish.

With a smart outreach automation platform, you don’t have to worry about double opt-in, prompts to get whitelisted, inbox deliverability, segmentation, and, importantly, timing or frequency of your campaigns. You will also gain insights into how your campaign is performing and make more informed decisions.

Find an email marketing automation tool that suits your needs.

email drip campaigns

Wrapping it up

The essence of improving your sender reputation is so that your email deliverability can improve as well. Email deliverability is one of the most important factors in your email marketing campaign. If you’d love to have a guide to improving your email deliverability, you can download one for free

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