How to Increase Sender Reputation Score for your Job Site

 In Email Deliverability

Your Sender Score is like a bank running your credit score to gauge your credit history. It gauges your email sending history to determine what kind of emails you send to your subscribers. Which in turn directly affects the email deliverability of your job board. Mailbox providers take a lot of metrics into consideration while determining your Sender Reputation including spam complaints, mailing to unknown users, industry blacklists, and more.

Here in this article, we will be talking about the factors influencing the Sender Reputation of your Job Site, how you can build, monitor and protect it.

But first, let's talk about what sender reputation score is and its major types.

What is a Sender Reputation Score?

It is a number between 0 and 100 that identifies your sender reputation and shows you how mailbox providers view your IP address. Your sender reputation score is a dynamic number and can keep changing as your email sending practices change. The higher the score, the better your Sender Reputation is.

If your sender reputation score is:

  • Less than 70 - This might just be the reason you are facing email delivery issues and you need to start taking drastic measures immediately to repair your sender score reputation.  You can start by following industry best practices and reviewing the quality of the content you are sending. You might also consider buying a dedicated IP for your job board. 
  • Greater than 70 - Your sender score reputation is good. You should keep following industry best practices and keep trying to improve the score. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't drop
  • Greater than 80 - Your score is great!! Keep doing what you are doing. You are probably eligible to enter a Whitelist for Sender Score Reputation.

The factors which mainly affect your Sender Reputation Score are:

  1. Domain Reputation
  2. IP Reputation
  3. Content Reputation.

Domain Reputation

Domain Reputation is becoming the ultimate factor in determining the deliverability of emails sent by your job board. It is simpler to map compared to IP reputations and has a huge impact on your Sender Reputation. Here's what you need to look out for: 

The components of your Domain Reputation.

  1.  DKIM signing domain: DKIM Domain is the authoritative signing domain of your email. It can be seen when you look at full headers of any email. You can find it in the header called “Authentication-Results”.
  2.  Return-path domain: The domain used in the Returnpath header of your email.
  3.  FROM domain: The domain used in visible FROM address of your email. 

 Various mailboxes have different parameters for determining Sender Score Reputation and give importance to varying parameters. 

Example: Gmail is a Domain Reputation heavy mailbox, i.e, it gives more importance to your Domain Reputation compared to other mailbox providers.

IP Reputation

IP reputation is the reputation of the delivery IP of your mail stream. Lately, mailbox providers are moving to domain heavy reputation systems, but IP reputation still matters and it can have a direct impact on the Inboxing of your job board's emails.

Mailbox providers weigh IP and Domain reputations both in order to determine your Sender Reputation Score and ultimately in deciding whether your emails will be delivered in your candidate’s inbox.

Content Reputation

The body of an email also carries a reputation. While domain and IP reputations are measurable using postmaster tools mailbox providers give, content reputation cannot be directly tracked. Instead, it can be arrived at after multiple tests.

Here are the usual pieces within your email content that contribute to content reputation. 

  •  Link tracking domains, Image hosting domains, etc.
  •  HTML structure and layout of your email.
  •  Text Phrases within HTML tags an email like alt tags.
  •  Text Phrases in the content of your email.

A 101 Guide to Build your Email Sending Reputation

After looking at the factors which affect your Sender Reputation Score, we will look at how you can improve your score. Here are some techniques you can employ in your email strategy which will directly impact your sender reputation. 

Simple metrics such as delivery, open and click rates are the primary indicators of your sender reputation.

You can follow these best practices to further improve your sender score.  

Data Collection 

As a sender, you need to look at every path a user can take to signup for your service. It could be social signups (Google and Facebook authentication), Manually entered email IDs, Coreg signups, Third-party opt-ins, signup over an app, etc. Track them differently as each of these sources will show a difference in terms of responses, quality and might need a different treatment. Segmenting your user base at this stage will, later on, help you in designing a personalized campaign for them. We treat them differently as social signup users don’t need to get a signup confirmation email again, but a manual form filled email ID should get one.  

Example: Auto-authenticated signups like Google and Facebook are highly accurate as compared to manual fill of email ID where a user can enter a typo’d email address (like abcd@gmail.com). Beyond accuracy, Co-Reg and 3rd party opt-ins will likely have different engagement patterns than 1st party opt-ins. This is especially important in the jobs space where Co-Reg and 3rd party opt-ins can be fairly common.   

Data Segmentation 

Data Segmentation is a practice where you segregate your users into different dynamic lists based on their life cycle stage. The users we have segregated in the last step can be segmented by fixed attributed in this stage. Targeting various candidates with different types of content can ensure the data is relevant giving you higher engagement activities. 

The questions you need to ask while segmenting your users are: 

  • What email is my user getting as soon as he or she signs up?
  • What’s the average time the user is active with my job alerts before going dormant? 
  • What stage of the job search process is a user in?
  • Am I sending relevant emails based on the stage of their job search? 

Example: Daily 2 job alerts, 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening. - User preference center link to manage subscription and adjust the frequency.

Content Targeting

Spam filters break down the creative into tens (in some cases hundreds) of components and calculate reputation for each of these components. If cumulative reputation for that creatives comes as negative, your emails will not see the light of inbox. Let’s assume that you have a first-party organic email program from ESP A and a third party affiliate program to generate leads from ESP B. While the domains and IPs are completely different, if you have the same creative running between these two providers, the poor quality of your affiliate creative will start infecting the organic program since they share the same signature.

Best Practices to Monitor your Email Sending Reputation

Now that you have worked on techniques to improve your Email Sending Reputation, you need to look out on maintaining and improving them. Email Sending Reputation is a dynamic score and changes as per your sending habits. You need to monitor every campaign against your sender score to determine what works best in improving your score. 

You can use the following practices to be constantly updated about your Sending Reputation.  

Authentication: Ensure that your emails are authenticated properly, with SPF and DKIM pass

Feedback Loop complaints: These complaints are when your users are marking your emails as spam in Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. Make sure your average has to be less than 0.1%, so that that mailbox providers do not flag and report all the spam complaints.

Open rates and Click Rates: The engagement metrics which you need to monitor are the number of opens and clicks to the total amount of emails deployed. You can calculate their percentage and compare it to the industry standard. 

Unsubscribes and Bounces: The number of unsubscribes, as well as bounce ids, need to be monitored as an increase in the percentage of these metrics will showcase as negative factors for mailbox providers and it will lead to a dip in your domain reputation. 

Delivery Speed: If your email provider is delivering at 100K emails an hour, is it consistent or do you see any throttling by the mailbox providers. If a mailbox provider is throttling you, there is something negative about the campaign you deployed and it has to be looked at. If throttling is consistent, it will have an impact on performance, reputation, and deliverability. 

Tools to monitor your Email Sending Reputation

Sender Reputation Score can be tracked using various tools which track your email seed data, consumer email data, reputation network data. They analyze specific filtering criteria at a variety of major email providers to diagnose filtering and sender compliance issues holistically across your email program. Which is then combined to formulate your sender reputation score.

Here are some tools you can consider using for checking your sender reputation score.

Quick Summary to protect Email Sending Reputation - Common Practices

A good sender reputation is one of the best assets you can have to ensure your emails are delivered. But because each ISP gauges reputation differently, and the factors that influence assessment can change, you must be vigilant to protect that asset. 

You can adopt these practices and make reputation monitoring an ongoing component which will give your emails the best chance of reaching their intended recipients

  1. Reputation data is essential

As part of your ongoing marketing metrics, develop exception reporting, so that you’ll be able to immediately act on unusually high or low statistics. These statistics will directly reflect your Sender Reputation Score and will give you the first prompt when something goes wonderfully right or incredibly wrong with your score. 

You mainly need to keep an eye out for these metrics:

  •  Complaint rates
  • Hard bounce rate
  • Spam trap hits
  1. No unlimited testing

Before making any significant changes to your email program -- particularly in the type of content or the frequency of your sends -- test the changes with a small portion of your list and measure your complaint rate.

If the new email boosts your complaint rate, you’ll need to rethink your strategy. Even something as simple as changing the "From" address can cause a spike in feedback loop complaints.

  1. Don’t change your IP address

Spammers are famous for switching IP addresses. However, as a permission emailer, you may need a new IP address for a good reason (new server, dedicated server for testing, etc). 

In this case, just be aware that IP addresses with no volume history are subject to higher levels of traffic shaping (controlling the volume of transmission) and mission throttling (i.e. limited or irregular email transmission) as well as more stringent reputation thresholds. 

  1. Segment new opt-ins or risky test email.

You should isolate email sent to newly opted-in addresses via a separate server until you can determine your email list quality. This practice is common for emailers who have obtained opt-in names via sweepstakes, co-registration, a partnered opt-in program or any other opt-in sources that might not be as committed to getting an email from you as people who come directly to your website to opt-in.

  1. Sort Unsubscribers after each campaign.

Remove opt-outs from your list before the next email send to minimize complaints. As part of your email campaign audit process, test your unsubscribe process before each send to make sure that it still works.

  1. Don’t forget CAN-SPAM

While CAN-SPAM regulations give you 10 business days from the date of opt-out request to add a name to your "Do Not Email" (DNE) list, it’s best to add the name prior to any subsequent commercial email sends.

  1. Deal with feedback loop complaints

Once you’ve signed up for ISP feedback loops, which inform senders of spam complaints by email recipients, remove the complainers from your list before your next email send to prevent any additional complaints.

  1. Constant monitoring of Hard Bounces

Remove those addresses that could not be delivered because the recipient is invalid, i.e. hard bounces/unknown users. Remove hard bounces from your list before your next send. You can attempt to rescue those addresses using techniques such as a direct mail offering an incentive to opt-in again, website alerts for registered users, or telemarketing.

Conclusion

Maintaining a good email reputation is a never-ending challenge. Between the shifting policies of ISPs and the changing makeup of your subscriber lists, last year’s good reputation could always be dinged this year.

Your Email Reputation mainly depends on your IP, Domain and Content reputation. Make sure you’re following industry best practices for email reputation and monitoring your email campaigns regularly. You need to pay attention to data collection, segmentation, your email content and infrastructure as factors mainly affecting your email sending reputation.

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