Domain reputation plays a key factor in deciding the delivery rate of emails. Maintaining a high domain reputation ensures that email inboxes like Gmail and Outlook don't mark your emails as spam.
What is domain reputation?
Domain reputation is a score between 0 to 100 which is assigned to every domain name. It defines how trustworthy the emails from the domain are. A higher score means that the emails from the domain are good, and not spam.
What is the difference between domain reputation and IP reputation?
IP addresses are dotted decimal numbers (like 126.96.36.199) These act as addresses for servers. IP reputation used to be the primary source of credibility for email, but as IP addresses become more common and disposable, domain reputation became more important. Domain reputation is directly linked to your website's domain, so it's much more permanent.
What affects domain reputation?
Domain reputation is affected by multiple factors. When you send your newsletter, these are important to keep in mind.
- Open Rate
- Click Rate
- Reply Rate
- Forward Rate
- Action of "Report Spam"
- Action of "Report not Spam"
- Hard Bounces
- Sending emails to invalid email IDs (spam traps)
How can I improve my domain reputation?
Here are a few best practices.
1. Manual domain warmup
Domain warmup is a powerful method that has the power to confuse mailbox providers (like Gmail) to even make marketing emails land in the primary folder.
To warm up your email address, add it to your email service provider (like GSuite or Zoho mail) and start using it regularly. By using it regularly, mailbox providers will understand that this mail address is being used for personal/conversational purposes, improving email creditability. The more the email service provider registers the email is being used actively to answer and receive replies, the higher its credibility will be.
There are automated tools for the same purpose, but I suggest to do it yourself.
2. Validate domain using DKIM and SPF
DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) and SPF (Sender Policy Framework) are two of the most widely used email authentication methods. These indicate whether or not the sending server is authorized to send emails from the domain.
3. Use DMARC to block unauthenticated emails
There are times when someone tries to spam others by using your domain to send unauthorized emails. This can do a lot of harm to your sender reputation and can even cause legal issues. To fix this one should try to use DMARC which has the capability to block all emails which aren't verified by DKIM and SPF.
4. Use double opt-in
If you send marketing emails to your subscribers, it's important to use double opt-in. A double opt-in also helps you get a higher open rate by adding only interested subscribers to your primary mailing list.
5. Use ReCaptcha on signup forms
Bots are everywhere on the web. There are certain types of bots that will keep subscribing to your newsletter by using someone else's email. This will harm your domain reputation. Google has built a free solution to it called ReCaptcha which blocks all bots from entering data into your form, hence keeping your reputation safe.
How can I track my domain reputation?
It's important to keep a track of your domain reputation on a regular basis so that you are the first one to know if something goes wrong. There are multiple tools you can use to check your domain reputation. Here are the top ones.
1. Google Postmaster Tool
Google provides a free tool to all email marketers sending emails through Gmail addresses.
2. Talos Intelligence
Talos Intelligence is another domain reputation checker tool that is owned by Cisco.
3. Spam Checkers
In addition to SpamAssassin, there are some other tools that do a great job in checking the spam score of a domain which also represents the domain reputation. The best-known ones are Barracuda and McAfee which do a great job. MxToolBox can also be used for the same purpose.
Tip: Do note that these tools would work well when you are actually sending a trackable volume of emails(>100/week), the more the better.
Although domain reputation plays an important factor in deciding your inbox placement and deliverability, it's nothing to worry about unless you are sending "spammy" emails. Remember to maintain inbox sanity and if you aren't seeing much data in these tools then keep working until you reach a good sender volume.