Your subject line is catchy. Your email body looks great and reads even better. Your landing page is maximized for conversion. Yet your ROI and performance metrics are still a dismal failure. Sound familiar?

If your email marketing performance is poor, it might be time to take a good, long look at your sender reputation. A strong reputation will land you in the inbox the majority of the time, but a bad reputation will drag your mind-blowing content right into the junk folder. It won’t matter how much time and thought went into your messages. If they never make it to the inbox, they won’t generate results. It’s that simple.

The good news is that you, as a marketer, hold the keys to your own sender reputation and email deliverability.

How it works

Each email receiver, such as Google or Microsoft, has a different methodology to determine sender reputation but they all look at similar data. Their scoring metrics are used to evaluate your sender reputation and ultimately determine where your email will be delivered – to the inbox, junk folder or not at all.

What you need to do

You need to build a strong sender reputation to ensure your email messages make it to the inbox. To do that, you’ll need to consider these key variables and how they can be applied to your email marketing practices.

1. Clean your list. List hygiene is absolutely critical. If you send to an old, stale or purchased list, you’re going to hit a lot of unknown/nonexistent mailboxes. This is going to drive up your bounce rate. Email receivers will take note of this and will count it against you. A good email validation service, such as the one included in the Salesfusion platform, can help make sure your list remains clean and reduce bounce rates by 98%. Make sure you leverage a service like this to avoid high bounces.

2. Send good stuff to people who actually want it. Another strong reputation metric is the number of users who tag your messages as spam or move them to the junk folder. These complaints are generally accrued when you send to contacts who didn’t ask to receive email from you, didn’t expect to receive your emails, and/or didn’t like the content you sent. Ask for permission to email someone when you acquire their email address. You also need to set expectations about what you will send them and how frequently they’ll hear from you. This will keep your complaints low and your deliverability high.

3. Don’t fall into spam traps. Spam traps are email addresses which do not belong to real users. Guess what else? Purchased lists are full of them. Email receivers use these accounts to catch spammers. If you purchase lists and email spam traps, you can pretty much say goodbye to great email performance. You’re going to get blacklisted or blocked which means NONE of your emails will reach your desired recipients list. That’s right. ZERO. The best way to avoid spam traps is to send to known users who ask for your email – never purchase email lists!

4. Stop sending to contacts who don’t care about you. Sending to contacts who no longer respond to your mail or fit your buyer profile can hurt your overall sender reputation. This is because email receivers leverage engagement data to determine inbox placement. Engagement can be measured by opens, clicks, website visits or current purchases. Make sure you regularly remove stale or inactive contacts from your email list on a regular basis to protect your sender reputation. If you’re using a full-suite marketing automation platform like Salesfusion, you can set this up to happen automatically.

5. Don’t spike your send volume. Email receivers will learn your sending habits as you build your reputation over time. Significant spikes in sending volume will raise a red flag. It’s important that you maintain a consistent volume, or plan for spikes, to keep your reputation intact. One way to do this is to slowly ramp up volume when huge increases are expected.

Just like good financial decisions will drive your credit score, your sender reputation is determined by your adherence to email deliverability best practices. A good credit score leads to favorable loan terms and a bad score will create obstacles. Similarly, a good email reputation will help get your emails to the inbox. A poor reputation will likely land you in the junk folder, or you’ll never make it through spam filters at all. How you manage your sending practices and content will directly affect your success as an email marketer.