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How to Choose an E-Mail Marketing Provider with a Good Sender Reputation

7 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Spam and Blacklists as Applied to E-Mail Marketing

Getting more of your marketing e-mails delivered starts with sending your e-mail from a reputable e-mail server. Because your own e-mail server isn’t likely to have a reputation, delivering your mail through an e-mail marketing program (EMP) with a respectable and well-known reputation is one of the most important steps you can take to maximize your e-mail deliverability. Make sure you choose an EMP that can do the following:

  • Authenticate your e-mail: Authentication allows e-mail servers to identify the sender of an e-mail.

  • Eliminate customers with high spam complaints: EMPs send e-mails from their own servers on behalf of their customers even though the e-mails appear to come from their customers. Because too many spam complaints might cause the EMP’s servers to become blacklisted, associate with an EMP that takes action when one of its customers receives too many spam complaints. Reputable EMPs keep their overall complaint rates low — and your sender reputation as clean as possible.

  • Affirm the quality of its customers’ e-mail lists: Although EMPs can’t guarantee or predetermine the quality of their customers’ e-mail lists, reputable EMPs require customers to adhere to strict permission policies to caution their customers when attempting to use e-mail addresses that could generate a high number of complaints.

  • Adopt a policy for spam tolerance: Some businesses, such as those in the financial and medical industries, inherently receive a lot of spam complaints because their legitimate e-mail content looks similar to a lot of spam e-mails. Use an EMP that either has options for such businesses or has a policy to refer such businesses to another service that specializes in industries where spam complaints may be higher than average.

  • Keep customers from sending repeated e-mails to unknown users: Spammers send billions of e-mails to every possible e-mail address hoping to uncover real addresses. Because ISPs (such as AOL, Yahoo!, and Hotmail) spend a lot of money bouncing e-mails sent by spammers, they aren’t appreciative of e-mails sent to nonexistent addresses. As a result, your deliverability could suffer if your e-mail server is labeled as a nuisance. To help protect your sender reputation (as well as that of the EMP), most reputable EMPs stop sending your e-mail to nonexistent e-mail addresses after two or three attempts even if you don’t remove the e-mail addresses yourself.

E-mail filters often rely on sender reputation before content filters, so check your EMP’s sender reputation against the competition by signing up for a free account at Return Path’s Sender Score service. Type the domain name of the company and then click each of its listed e-mail servers to see the sender score for each server used to send e-mail on behalf of the EMP’s customers. A score of 0 on a particular e-mail server is the worst, and a score of 100 is the best. After you feel comfortable that you’re sending e-mail via a reputable EMP, you can be sure that your efforts to optimize your e-mail content won’t be wasted.

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The Essentials of Spam and Blacklists as Applied to E-Mail Marketing

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