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This post is the second in a four part series on best practices for email marketing. Want to learn more? Download our ebook here.

What is Reputation?

Reputation is a metric used by ISPs to distinguish legitimate email marketing senders from spammers and other malicious senders. Simply put, if you send relevant emails to willing recipients, your sending reputation will increase over time. If you deviate from this pattern (for example, having inconsistent volumes, uninteresting content for your recipients, and so on) your reputation will be hurt.

ISPs keep track of senders’ reputations in various ways. The emails sent by those with low reputation can be blocked right away or they end up in the recipients’ spam folders.

A good sending reputation is critical in ensuring high deliverability rates, and it’s built over time.

Using a reliable email sending infrastructure and service provider will make it easier to build a good sending reputation as we will see in the rest of this guide.

4 Elements of a successful email deliverability infrastructure

Having a professionally configured and maintained infrastructure is essential in ensuring high deliverability rates. Apart from problems like blocking or filtering, there are four important considerations that can tremendously affect deliverability.

1. IP addresses

An important decision is whether to request exclusively dedicated IP addresses from your Email Service Provider or to use the standard shared IP pools. It is a common misconception that shared IP addresses are problematic. If your Email Service Provider routes emails according to your reputation and volumes, shared IP addresses can be beneficial. Shared sending IP addresses cushion you from uneven sending volumes and occasional missteps in deliverability because the IP addresses are shared with other virtuous senders that will help sustain a steady reputation. On the other hand, if you are an expert in email marketing and plan to reach steady daily sending volumes over time, then dedicated IP addresses can be more advantageous. In that case you can split volumes between IP addresses used for transactional emails and those used for marketing or promotional emails.

2. Secure infrastructure

It is important to rely on a secure infrastructure by following the best practices of network and physical security to avoid access by unexpected users.

3. Feedback loops

Sign up for ISP Feedback Loops with all the major ISPs, and act on complaints quickly and effectively. Also have “postmaster” and “abuse” mailboxes set up for all your domains and monitor them frequently. These mailboxes are also used by ISPs that don’t have Feedback Loops and by recipients looking to file direct complaints.

Make sure your sending domain is able to receive emails and has valid DNS record types like MX, A, PTR, and TXT records. If not, some ISPs will block emails from your domain.

4. Authentication

Authentication is a process to validate that your emails are actually from you (and not somebody else impersonating you). It applies to both transactional and promotional emails. Authenticating your emails does not guarantee your email will be delivered, but it can help a lot.

ISPs differentiate you from spammers and other illegitimate senders. There are two accepted methods of authentication that you should implement: Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM).

Want to learn more?

Missed something? Read the first post in the series, Getting Into the Inbox with Grace, here.

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