Precautionary measures to prevent email blacklisting

Although we already wrote last year about avoiding blacklists, this is an important topic that requires revisiting. In this day-to-day growing digital world, the biggest fear an email marketer encounters is the fear of being blacklisted. Blacklists are becoming the worst nightmare to today’s generation of email marketers. No matter how efficiently you practice all precautions, there is a number of spam and other such problems that can reduce the impact of your email marketing.

Email blacklists are lists that use some criteria to determine if an IP address, domain or e-mailer is sending an email that can be considered spam. The worst problem with email blacklisting is that it can be created by anyone receiving or processing an e-mail.

Different types of email blacklists

  • Public blacklists: Public blacklists are blacklists that can be started and published by anyone. Hundreds of blacklists can be found today on the Internet.
  • ISP Blacklists: Large ISPs who know some spammers and e-mailers blacklist them, creating their own blacklists.
  • Server-side filters: Some anti-spam filters use their own set of criteria and guidelines to make their own blacklists.
  • Client-side filters: Many software programs help users to shield themselves from different types of spam. These programs also provide the option to filter the incoming emails.
  • Corporate blacklists: Many organizations customize the rules to filter their incoming emails through a server administrator. These internal blacklists are used to block suspected spammers and e-mailers.

Not getting notified on time makes email blacklists even more troublesome. Until you notice or investigate, you have no way of knowing that you are being blacklisted. There are a few steps that can help you identify whether you are hit by this problem or not.

Steps to identify blacklists

  • Notice your open/clicks statistics by domain: A blacklist causes a decline in your overall open /click rates. Blacklisting problems are clearly visible on open/ click statistics rather than overall statistics.
  • Check complaints from your recipients: If the recipients regularly complain of not receiving your emails, it can be a case of a blacklist. Ensure your customer service does not neglect such important complaints.
  • Use blacklist research tools: There are various tools such as our blacklist API that can help you make sure whether your IP address is blacklisted or not.
  • Check for security gaps: Make sure there are no loopholes or security gaps in your email system. It is best to have an email service provider for your company to track all these problems.
  • Check if your IP address is listed on any email blacklists

The above-mentioned points are the steps to identify problems, but there can be many more reasons for your email being blacklisted. And the reason for any email blacklist can be different from another.

Mentioned below are some of the reasons for email blacklists

  • Spam complaints: Most emails are blacklisted because of recipients. Most spamming is due to internal or unintentional hitting the option of “This is spam”. Almost every email can be reported as spam no matter how many precautions you take to avoid it.
  • If your bounce rate exceeds the acceptable: The increase in the bounce rate of your emails automatically makes you a blacklist candidate. There are some spam trap addresses on which any email is considered spam. If you continue sending emails to such trap addresses, you automatically get blacklisted.
  • Due to bad IP reputation: There are several servers and IPs that have blacklisted IP addresses. If you use a blacklisted server or IP, you will also become blacklisted.

Now that we know all the aspects of email blacklists, the main question arises: what to do if we suffer the same problem? There are a few steps and measures that can help in reducing the impact and consequences of email blacklists.

How to face email blacklists?

  • Check your IP address: Make sure that the IP address you use is not blacklisted. Ensure that your IP address is not blacklisted on any specific ISP.
  • Contact your email service provider: If you use an ESP (email service provider), you can have a talk with them about the issue. Many ESPs have good bonds with major blacklists and ISPs and can help solve your problem quickly.
  • Contact the ISP: If you send emails through a server instead of an email service provider, you need to directly contact the ISP about the issue.

So basically, it is clear that being blacklisted cannot be totally avoided; but its impacts and risks can be reduced to a large extent. However, these measures and steps can only let you check and monitor the risks of blacklists, not completely avoid it.

Now that you know everything about email blacklisting, you will definitely agree that it is important to keep an eye on it in order to maintain a good brand reputation. Although your email service provider will help you monitor this and make you aware of it, they cannot prevent ISPs from receiving negative responses from your recipients in your database. You should build an effective marketing strategy on the basis of the best email marketing practices to make sure you are not getting blacklisted in the future.


Goran Duskic has been the Founder and CEO of WhoAPI Inc. since 2011, a company that specializes in developing APIs, including the well-known Whois API. He started his career in internet entrepreneurship in 2006 and has co-founded several online businesses, including a web hosting company that he later sold. Goran's work primarily involves creating practical API solutions to meet technological needs.

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