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What’s Your Email Marketing Sender Score?


What is your Email Marketing Sender Score or Sender Reputation?


Many people I have spoken to about Email Marketing think it is a free and basic marketing strategy, where they can put together some marketing copy, perhaps include some images then send it off to their lists and ‘Hey Presto’ it magically appears in their entire lists Inbox.

The reality is that it is a lot more complicated than that and what’s even more tragic is that most small business owners don’t find out enough about the mechanics to get their emails into their target markets inbox and how to conduct all future marketing to keep getting their emails delivered to their contact lists.

There are tons of considerations in the form of moving parts in the mechanics of email deliverability, and a huge one is the reputation of the email sender. You can find a summary of these in a Free report titled “Email Marketing Best Practices” available on our Libabun Website.

Luckily, there’s a service called Return Path or DNSstuff.com that have a metric called Sender Score, which gives you insight into your reputation as an email sender.

Have you checked your Sender Score? If you do know your Sender Score, do you know what it means for your reputation as an email marketer?

If you’re interested in your reputation as an email sender and you should be, read on to learn everything you need to know about Sender Score.

Did You Know You Have An Email Reputation Score?


The Sender Score algorithm rates the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address on a scale from 0-100.

Gathering data from millions of mailboxes from the big ISPs, Return Path records if people frequently unsubscribe or report spam from certain email senders, and then assigns you a Sender Score based on that monitoring.

Your Sender Score is updated on a rolling 30-day average and will continue to change depending on your email sending habits and the responses of your recipients.

Your Sender Score or Sender Reputation is a crucial number that needs to be actively managed because mail servers will often check your Sender Score before deciding what to do with your emails. The lower your Sender Score, the harder time you’ll have getting into someone’s inbox.

So, how can you directly ‘actively manage’ your sender score? In short, you can’t, yet what you can do is record, review and report on the email marketing results and ‘actively manage’ your contact lists so that your lists are full of contacts who are opening your emails and increasing rather than decreasing your sender score or sender reputation.

There are plenty of things that can impact the deliverability of your email, but Return Path reports that 83% of the time an email is not delivered to an inbox, it is due to a poor sender reputation.

What Makes Up A Sender Reputation?


First and foremost it relates to the IP address of the mail server that you are using to send an email from. The sender score can rate from 0 – 100 (with 100 being the best). A sender score indicates to ISPs and mail box providers your trustworthiness – i.e. that you are not a spammer. The closer your score is to 0, the worse it is, and if you’re close to 100 you’re in great shape.

A sender score is made up from analysis of the following (but not exclusive) email aspects from your IP address:

  • Complaints: How complaints about that IP address compare to all other IP addresses. Complaint rates are calculated as complaints divided by accepted mail, and complaint scores are a rank based on your complaint rates. This figure should be less than one reported complaint per 1000 emails.
  • Volume and Frequency: While not an indication of a good or bad sender reputation alone, Volume and Frequency are an important part of the overall reputation algorithm. For example, an IP address which sends emails infrequently will increase the probability of being looked at by the ISP’s as a Spammer as opposed to someone who does regularly broadcasts. Volume itself is not an issue but the ‘measured outcomes’ as a percentage could be. For example, if an IP address sends 200 messages and receives 190 complaints, this is problematic, while an IP address which sends 200,000 messages and receives 190 complaints is probably okay. A higher score equates to larger volume monitored by the Sender Score Reputation Network.
  • External Reputation: How the IP address compares to all other IP addresses on a variety of external blacklists and whitelists. There’s not a lot you can do about this other than ‘actively managing’ your contact lists, removing any ‘unsubscribers’, complainants, hard bouncers, or those failing to open your emails after several emails. This will reduce the chance of being blacklisted.
  • Unknown Users: The rank of the IP address ‘unknown user rate’ compared to all other IP addresses. Unknown user rates are taken directly from incoming SMTP logs of participating ISPs, tracking how often an IP address attempts to send a message to an address which does not exist. It is vital you cleanse your lists frequently of these addresses or you risk falling into a SPAM Trap.
  • Rejected: This represents how often messages are bounced compared to other IP addresses.
  • Accepted: The number of email messages accepted for delivery, this number is expressed as the number of messages seen minus the number of messages rejected.
  • Accepted Rate: The ratio of email messages accepted for delivery compared to email messages attempted. This is the number of messages accepted for delivery, divided by the number of messages seen.
  • Unknown User Rate: The ratio of unknown users, or invalid email addresses, compared to the amount of email seen.

So, What’s A Good Score?


If your score is over 90, congratulations! That’s a very good Sender Score. If your score is between 50 and 80, something isn’t right and read the rest of this post for ways to improve it. If your score is less than 50, well… looks like you’re probably a spammer and you need to change your ways…FAST.

If you are looking to boost your Sender Score contact us at Libabun.com to discuss the bests ways for you to do that.

We have put together a list describing the possible email engagements with your contact lists and how they play a role in influencing your Sender Score.

The 8 Signals Of Email Engagement


These eight signals of inbox engagement play a fundamental part in determining the relevancy of your email campaigns for a specific recipient.

  • Whitelist Instructions (Good): Within the first couple of emails after a person has ‘opted-in’ to receive emails from you. You need to ask them to ‘Whitelist’ your email address and give them instructions on how to do this.
  • Open (GOOD): although they know that open has become a less relevant metric (images downloaded by default in certain email clients), they still track it
  • Reply (GOOD): a reply to a message is considered a super-strong signal of engagement. If you ever needed evidence that using a “no-reply@…” email address is a bad idea… here we go!
  • Move to junk (BAD): strong, negative signal. Two of these on AOL are enough to automatically place that message in the spam folder from then on, for that recipient.
  • Not junk (GOOD): strong, positive signal that the message should not be considered spam. One of these on AOL is enough to “reset” the previous behaviour.
  • Delete without open (BAD): a quick glance at the sender/subject, and they didn’t like it: a negative signal.
  • Move to folder (GOOD): if you are moving certain messages around, it means you care about them.
  • Add to address book(Whitelist) (GOOD): it shows that the sender matters to the recipient.

The Not To Do’s and The ‘To Do’s To Enhance Email Marketing…


Email Sins Not to Do If You Want Your Emails to Land in Inboxes


Sin 1.) Don’t buy or rent lists. Yes, you can legally purchase lists of people who have agreed to email communications, but they aren’t likely to actually want your emails, increasing the likelihood they will mark you as spam. If you are using an Email provider such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or Infusionsoft and you purchase a list of email addresses, you will be shut-down pretty quickly!

Sin 2.) Don’t scrape sites for email addresses. This is always illegal. Nothing more needs to be said.

Sin 3.) Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line. Your not just ‘Shouting’ you doing a lot more damage to your Sender Score.

Sin 4.) Don’t use video, Flash, or javascript within your email.

Sin 5.) Don’t forget to include alt text in emails with images so they can be read by all email clients.

Sin 6.) Don’t embed forms in your emails; send recipients to a landing page on your site instead.

Sin 7.) Don’t use spam trigger words like “free,” “guarantee,” and “no obligation” in your subject line or email body. A good rule of thumb is, “If it sounds like something a cheesy salesperson would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word.

Sin 8.) Don’t use exclamation points!!!!!

Sin 9.) Don’t forget to use spell check; misspellings are yet another spam indicator in your email copy.

Sin 10.) Don’t jam pack your email copy with keywords.

Sin 11.) Don’t use tons of images, or very large images. And remember, all images should have associated alt text!

Sin 12.) Don’t email people who have bounced repeatedly; it can cause your IP address to be blacklisted.

Sin 13.) Don’t include attachments to your emails. Just as with landing pages, send recipients to a page on your site to download whatever it is you want to send.

Email Blessings You Can Do to Increase Your Email Deliverability Rate

Blessing 1.) Do reach out to inactive subscribers to see if they still want to be included on your list; doing so decreases the likelihood that they’ll flag you as spam and keeps your lists clean.

Blessing 2.) Do ask for feedback from your inactive or infrequently active subscribers to see if you can re-engage them.

Blessing 3.) Do use double opt-in. This means after someone subscribes, you should send them an email with a confirmation link ensuring they want to receive email communications from you.

Blessing 4.) Do ask your subscribers to white list you. Spam filters are more aggressive than ever, and sometimes email that people value, still end up in spam boxes. By asking your subscribers to add you to their address book, it tells spam filters to back off.

Blessing 5.) Do include a clear unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address in your email footer.

Blessing 6.) Do use a familiar sender name to decrease the likelihood recipients won’t recognize you in their inbox.

Blessing 7.) Do include your recipient’s name in the To: field so spam filters know that you do, indeed, know your recipient.

Blessing 8.) Do offer both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails; it’s not only an indicator of legitimacy to ISPs, but it also makes your emails more reader friendly.

Blessing 9.) Do keep emails short; too much copy is another red flag for spam filters.

Blessing 10.) Do include the date somewhere in the body of your email to show your message is current.

Blessing 11.) Do test emails you send with the email service providers your subscribers use to ensure they deliver successfully to all of them.

Blessing 12.) Do get email sender accreditation from a third party so ISPs know you are a trusted sender.

Blessing 13.) Do monitor your sender reputation at Return Path or DNSstuff.com these both let you check on whether you are a blacklisted sender, something many unlucky email marketers aren’t even aware of.

Blessing 14.) Do honour unsubscribes; it’s not only good for you as a self-scrubbing mechanism, but it’s also illegal not to.

Blessing 15.) Do stay up to date on changes in email sending laws, ISP behaviour, and spam filter technology. Email marketing is constantly evolving, and staying in the know helps ensure you’re always following best practices (and the law!).

How Can I manage all this?

You may be wondering how you can manage all this. Well at Libabun.com we manage our email reputation through conducting all our marketing campaigns, including all emails, through using the Infusionsoft CRM system, which is specifically designed for Small Businesses.

The Infusionsoft CRM provides us with all the rates for opens, click-throughs, bounces, complaints etc that allows us to effectively and ‘actively manage’ our contact lists.

If you want to see a short video demonstration on the Infusionsoft CRM and how it can help you then CLICK ON our LibAbun.com website and register for a demonstration. The team at Libabun are ‘Infusionsoft Certified Partners’ where we sell this system and then train you how to effectively use this properly for your business growth.