6 Practical Ways to Improve Your Domain Reputation
Written by
Ninad Pathak
Ninad Pathak

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6 Practical Ways to Improve Your Domain Reputation

Published : May 31, 2020

In this brief article, we go over the reasons why domain reputation goes bad, and the steps that you can take to improve your domain reputation to improve inboxing rates. Remember, higher domain reputation scores improve your reach.

The domain and the IP are the first things that a mailbox service comes across when you send an email. Based on how your sending history has been, and what reputation your domain and your IP address hold on the mailbox provider’s server, decide if your email lands in the inbox or the spam folder. 

That’s how important the domain reputation is. And it’s also clear that the better your domain reputation with the receiving server, the better your chance of landing in the customer inboxes. 

So the question comes to this: How can you improve your domain reputation?

Let’s get right into it today! But first, do you even need to fix your domain reputation?

Do you really need to fix or improve your domain reputation?

People who work in IT have a common saying:  “Don’t fix what ain’t broken”. 

But as marketers (and pretty much everyone living in 2020), we have to break the norm anyway.

If you’re seeing lower email open rates (lower than ~20% on a very consistent basis) or dropping delivery rates, you should take the steps to fix your domain reputation. 

And even when you don’t see any dropping metric, you should try them anyway. It’s going to end up well for your domain reputation in the long run! So with that set, let’s move to the first step.

How to Check Your Domain Reputation?

Depending on which website or tool you use to check your domain reputation, the scores may vary. We recently wrote an article on the different tools you can use to check your sending reputation and what the scores given by the tools mean.

What’s your first step?

The first step is to take a couple of hours out for analyzing data. (Yeah the boring old data analysis)

To fix and improve domain reputation, we need to identify what really went wrong. This would involve going back to the emails where things were going fine and slowly moving towards emails where you started noticing a drop. 

Understand what went wrong

View data on the email platform’s dashboard, or export it and do your analysis on an Excel sheet. Whatever comforts you best. 

All we want to figure out is what exactly went wrong. 

  • Did we start receiving a lot of unsubscribers?
  • Did a lot of your emails get marked as spam?
  • Did you have too many inactive emails in your lists where the emails just bounced?
  • Were you sending out emails to lists that did not provide you with their explicit permission to email?
  • Are you sending too many emails without proper DKIM and SPF records set?
  • Have you kept your email lists dormant for a long time and have just started mass emailing everyone?

These are some of the factors that you need to start looking upon. And if either of the metrics is high for any email, it’s time to read through the email, the code of the template, and figure out what’s missing compared to the other emails that went well before.

Practical Steps to Improve your Domain Reputation

That’s all theory until you take the steps to now improve upon your emails. So let’s get right into the steps you can take to improve your domain reputation starting from your next campaign.

1. Decrease your email sending frequency

This is going to be your first and the most important step if you are experiencing deliverability issues for your emails. You have got to slow down on your email campaigns for a while until the domain reputation begins to show improvement. 

Right now, you don’t want to be sending emails to a lot of people. But instead, send to only those customers who’re highly engaged with your emails. 

This includes people who’ve spent the time reading your emails or clicked on the links that you shared within the emails in the last few campaigns. 

Being sending emails to these highly engaged customers so the receiving email servers see very high open and click-through rates that are just way above average. It’s a very strong signal when emails coming from a specific domain are being read by such a high percentage of users.

We have this as step 1 because it is really a strong indicator to email service providers that your emails have indeed improved a lot!

2. Clean up your Email lists

This is going to be your second step if you’re seeing deliverability issues due to email lists with a lot of dormant emails. If an email address hasn’t engaged with your emails for more than 3 months, move them to another list and avoid sending emails to them.

Your lists will be smaller, for sure. But would also display better metrics now with cleaner lists of customers who really want to see emails from you.

And you don’t even have to throw away your unengaged contacts. Try and re-engage with them by directing them to a landing page and offering a valuable hook for free. This will get a lot of those contacts to engage with your brand and explicitly opt-in to your email list.

3. An Unsubscribe Button

Give your users the option to unsubscribe. It’s necessary. It’s important. 

Not everyone wants our emails, and we should not force them on everyone. When we’re sending out emails to our customers, we want them to end up buying our products or services. If we keep sending emails out to people who are just not interested in the product, you have a higher chance of them marking your emails as spam. 

In this case, the unsubscribe button is much better as it allows you to remove these contacts from your future campaigns, improving the overall opens and click-throughs.

This will in turn, also start to repair your domain reputation as you gradually move ahead.

Add to that, a preference center to allow the unsubscribing users to opt-out of specific or all lists. This will reduce the amount of work you require in maintaining your list of emails.

4. Send Really Good Emails

Decreased email frequency and clean email lists won’t solve issues caused by bad emails. So skip the norm, break the rules, and start an email from scratch. Completely new template, new formats, new styles of subject lines. 

Being testing these new formats to see which one works best. Let someone else on the team take care of writing emails in his/her style. This will let the algorithms “see” the change in your email writing patterns.

5. Catchy Subject Lines

The subject line is the first thing your email subscribers see in their inbox. And a subject line that grabs attention, is something that they’d open up first. There is no set of rules that are bound to work for everyone. But one thing that stays common in all subject lines is a benefit-driven approach.

6. Use Personalization

The norm of modern marketing is personalization. Paid ads, emails, websites, landing pages, and pretty much every part of the funnel can be personalized. And this technique also achieves much higher open and click-through rates compared to traditional bulk emails.

Use your customer’s first name, address their cities in the email, and write an email with just one person in mind. The person reading should feel the email was meant for them even though it’s sent to a lot of people. 

Why do domains end up with a bad reputation?

Low engagement.

A lower engagement tells the email service providers that your emails weren’t good enough for the people who received them. And as you send more emails that receive low engagement, your domain reputation starts to drop.

You should take the first steps as soon as you see lower engagement rates. This blog post is for you if you have started to see drops in your email open rates compared to some of your previous campaigns.

And finally…

There’s a lot that goes into calculating the domain reputation on the email servers. But don’t lose hope as Pepipost is right here to help you out. Of course, the steps outlined here will definitely improve your domain reputation gradually, but if you need some specific advice, we’re always here to assist you. Go ahead and hit the chat button on the bottom right side of the screen, and our email experts will be right here with you.

Other Related Article.

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Written By: Ninad Pathak