How to avoid getting on email blacklists?

E-mail marketing today is very important for all of those who want to succeed in business. Although it seems not applicable to all kinds of businesses, e-mail marketing is important for the majority of them. However, email blacklists often stand in the way of success. Here are some stats that I’ve found:

1. On average, subscribers receive 416 commercial messages a month.
2. There are more than 3.2 billion email accounts.
3. Email ad revenue reached $156 million in 2012.
4. 91% of consumers reported checking their email at least once a day.
5. US internet users will average 3.1 email addresses this year, according to a July 2013 survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of MyLife.
6. According to eMarketer, there will be around 236.8 million US email users by 2017.
7. Worldwide, market research firm The Radicati Group forecasts the email audience will grow from 2.42 billion this year to 2.76 billion by 2017.
8. Purpose of email marketing programs according to UK brand marketers? 78% said retention.
9. 64% of decision-makers read their email via mobile devices.
10. 89% percent of UK brand marketers polled by the UK’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) in December 2012 said email was important to their business strategies.
11. For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.
12. 56% of businesses say they plan to increase their use of email marketing in 2013.
13. eMarketer estimates the US adult email audience will reach 188.3 million in 2013 and will continue to climb to 203.8 million by 2017.
14. 93% of consumers also get at least one permission-based email daily.
15. 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email
16. email ad revenue reached $156 million in 2012.
17. There were 3.6 billion email accounts in 2013.
18. eBay made a study that if they don’t deliver 1% of their email, they lose 14 million dollars / yearly

People are sending billions of emails, some end up on email blacklists

1. 21% of email recipients report email as Spam, even if they know it isn’t
2. 43% of email recipients click the Spam button based on the email “from” name or email address
3. 69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line
4. IP addresses appearing on just one of the 12 major blacklists had email deliverability 25 points below those not listed on any blacklists
5. In 2010, the typical corporate user sent and received about 110 messages daily.
Roughly 18% of emails received are spam, comprising both actual spam and
“graymail” (i.e., unwanted newsletters, alerts, etc.).
While users mostly see spam as an annoyance, for the fastest-growing companies, it is a considerable expense. According to our projections, a typical 1,000-user organization can spend upwards of $3.0 million a year to fight and manage spam.

Despite that, there is one great problem with e-mail marketing, and even the greatest experts are facing it: blacklists. You can’t even know that you’re there without checking it yourself. Most common reasons for getting there are:

1. Shared IP address

If you don’t have your own SMTP server, you can easily end up on a blacklist just because of a shared IP address. When you share IP addresses with hundreds of websites, any of those users can be the reason for finishing up on the blacklist. The solution to this is to get a dedicated IP address!

2. Bad “hygiene”

There is a possibility that a certain number of e-mail addresses on your mailing list are invalid. Nothing will happen if you send a few e-mails to those addresses, but if you do it frequently, you will probably end up blacklisted.

3. Recipient report

Believe it or not, many IP addresses end up blacklisted because of recipients’ reports of unwanted mail. It might be a joke, accidentally, or on purpose, but ISP takes it very seriously, so your IP comes to the blacklist.

Email Blacklist Check API

Email Blacklist Check API

4. Usage of the words that are commonly used in SPAM e-mails

If you market certain products or services like watches, medications, etc., which are often met in spam emails, you’re sentenced to be blacklisted and/or filtered. This makes it more important that you respect the best e-mail marketing practices.

As I’ve already mentioned, you won’t be informed about email blacklisting your IP address, so it is very important to use some of the methods for discovering it and responding.

5. Follow your user’s complaints about not getting e-mails

Your loyal subscribers will know something’s wrong if they don’t get the e-mail. They probably wouldn’t just ignore it but warn you about it.

6. Check the email system for security gaps

If you’re not using ESP and you’re sending e-mails directly from your company, spammers can use botnets and access your e-mail servers to use them for sending SPAM. Be sure your IT section knows how to react to this problem and eliminate it.

7. Install an Email Blacklist API

Constantly check your IP address or domain name with an email blacklist API. That way, you are the first to respond if you do get blacklisted. It’s never pretty, but at least you will be the first to find out that you are blacklisted.

What to do once I’m blacklisted?

If you, despite precautions, end up blacklisted, it’s most important to find it out on time. If you’re using ESP (email service provider), contact their customer support because, in most cases, they have good cooperation with ISP that put you on the blacklist, so that can be fixed quickly. If you’re not using an ESP, make sure with your IT department that your servers haven’t been hacked.

It is important to find out the reason you ended up blacklisted in the first place so you can avoid repeating your mistakes and getting on the email blacklists, which might get more difficult to solve next time.
Each email blacklist has its own procedure for requests.

Right now, you’re probably asking this question: how can you permanently protect yourself against getting on email blacklists. The answer is simple – you can’t. Your sender reputation and authentication, whitelisting, and best email practices can only reduce the risk of being blacklisted but do not exclude it.

Branimir Grabovac

Branimir founded a hosting company when he was 15 and sold it three years later to one of the biggest Croatian hosting companies. Branimir has 3+ years of experience in business development and more then 8 years of experience in web design and programming.

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