Why Email Sender Reputation Matters To Small Businesses

October 2, 2018
Not getting the results you want from your email marketing strategy? It could be your sender reputation. Here are nine…...
Why Email Sender Reputation Matters To Small Businesses featured image

Not getting the results you want from your email marketing strategy? It could be your sender reputation. Here are nine questions and three tools for better results...

3 Essential Tools And Vital Recommendations To Protect Your Brand's Sender Reputation

For small businesses, getting emails through to their customers is important. It could be to:

  • Update them on an order
  • Confirm dispatch
  • Follow-up on a question received

Or other communication from the customer.

It also helps when their email newsletters reach the intended recipients because this can help increase website traffic and lead to increased sales. Email is a powerful marketing medium and avoids a dependence on Google for website visitors.

As such, email is a stealth form of insurance against losing search rankings with the largest search engine.  To preserve this, some may use an email reputation service, or hire a contractor for email reputation management.

Let's explore how and why email sender reputation matters to small businesses...

What Is Sender Reputation?

The reputation of the IP address and the sender’s email address used when sending emails are equally important. If they should suffer reputation damage – interchangeably referred to as sender score, sender reputation, or IP score – it puts email deliverability at risk.

Web email apps like Gmail, Outlook, and others use third-party scoring systems (and internal systems in some cases) to verify the website reputation score for the sender’s email and originating IP address. The idea is to catch the bad actors who are sending thousands of spammy emails from a collection of IP addresses and rotating between them to try to avoid getting flagged.

As time passes, the processes used within a sender reputation system become increasingly sophisticated. Companies must be mindful of getting flagged, even erroneously, because it will prevent email from being received successfully by:

  • Customers
  • Prospective customers
  • Subscribers

This is undesirable to any business engaged in an email marketing strategy.

What Factors Are Considered For Scoring?

Email providers don’t use a single system. They use multiple systems. Along with third-party systems to check the IP address for known flags, internal systems used by email providers help add additional layers of protection from spam email.

An assessment is made about the email sender and their quality based on these questions:

  • Do the subject line and email copy look spammy and use words that indicate that?
  • Or, does the sender consistently send high-quality content within their emails?
  • What’s the engagement linked with recipients?
  • How often are their emails opened?
  • How quickly are they archived, deleted, or read?
  • Are they viewed more than once?
  • Does the receiver click any of the links within the email?

An assessment is made about volume too.

  • Is the sender clearly sending the same email out to thousands of people at the same time?
  • How much does one email differ from another?

The greater the volume, the higher quality scoring is needed to confirm it’s not a spammy email.

Third-Party Sender Reputation Tools

When digging deeper into sender reputation, check various third-party tools to see how the company’s IP address (or domain) is being rated.

Sender Score 

A scoring system provided by sender score confirms their impression of the reputation of a given IP address. The best rate is 100 and goes down from there. A rate of 90 is still acceptable, but even a drop to 70 from the mid 80’s can lead to a reduction in total deliverability by 20%.

Talos Intel Group 

Talos is owned by a networking giant. When it comes to IP reputation check, Cisco is a trusted source. They offer networking services to businesses, but they also have an IP and domain name lookup service to check on sender reputation. Their ratings have three marks:

  • Good
  • Neutral
  • Poor

They also tally up a reasonable estimate of email volumes over a given period and locate other IP addresses believed to be used by the same sender (for cross-referencing purposes).


ReputationAuthority from WatchGuard provides a scoring system based on IP lookups. Their scoring runs from 100 to 0, but 0 is the best score and 100 is for worst offenders. A final score is given as Good, Neutral or Bad.

Companies Should Be Mindful Of Their Reputation

The reputation of the brand and company shouldn’t only be considered from the standpoint of customer service replies and social media snafus, but also from the IP address and domain reputation. Failing to realize this could lead to email deliverability problems down the road.

It’s sensible to verify the company’s IP address reputation on a monthly basis. Add it to tasks that are completed every month and can be ticked off a list once completed. Use multiple sources and also check the score that your mailing list provider has too. They usually keep tabs on how many emails bounce back and might restrict sending volume if the problems persist as they do not want their mail servers to get flagged for spam.

For small businesses, the sender score might seem like a minor, uninteresting detail of content marketing, but when content is being sent via email, it suddenly becomes of paramount importance. As customer attention gets harder and harder to hold on to, reaching customers by email increases in relevance and importance. Every business must protect and nurture their sender reputation and email as a traffic source.  

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