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Sender Score

Sender Score

What is the sender score?

Sender Score is essentially a reputation score for an email sender’s IP address. It’s like a credit score for email marketers, indicating how trustworthy an email sender is. This score is calculated by Return Path (now part of Validity Inc.) and ranges from 0 to 100.

The higher the score, the more likely it is that an email will be delivered to the recipient’s inbox and will have better deliverability.

Email marketers aim for a high Sender Score because it affects email deliverability. A low score can lead to emails being filtered as spam or blocked entirely, reducing the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns. Regular monitoring of the Sender Score helps in maintaining good email practices and adjusting strategies as needed.

How is the sender score calculated?

The calculation of a Sender Score is a complex process that involves analyzing various aspects of an email sender’s behavior and reputation. Here’s a more detailed look at the key factors considered:

  1. Email Volume: This refers to the number of emails sent from an IP address. A sudden spike in email volume can be seen as spammy behavior, while a consistent volume over time helps establish credibility.
  2. Complaint Rates: When recipients mark an email as spam, it counts as a complaint. High complaint rates negatively impact the Sender Score. The score considers both the volume and the rate of complaints in relation to the number of emails sent.
  3. Spam Trap Hits: Spam traps are email addresses that are specifically set up to catch spammers. Sending emails to these addresses, especially repeatedly, is a sign of poor list management and can severely lower the Sender Score.
  4. Unknown Users: Sending emails to a large number of non-existent email addresses (unknown users) can indicate poor list hygiene or aggressive acquisition tactics. This factor is closely monitored in the scoring process.
  5. Rejection Rate: If a large percentage of emails from an IP address are rejected by receiving servers, it suggests poor list quality or other problematic practices. Rejections can occur for various reasons, including being marked as spam or sending to inactive addresses.
  6. Engagement Metrics: This includes factors like how often emails are opened, clicked, and how long recipients spend reading them. Positive engagement behaviors can enhance the Sender Score.
  7. Blacklists: Being listed on one or more email blacklists can significantly reduce the Sender Score. Blacklists are maintained by various organizations and list IP addresses known for sending spam.

The Sender Score is calculated based on a rolling 30-day average of these factors. This dynamic scoring means that changes in email practices can lead to fluctuations in the score over time. A high score (above 80) generally indicates good email practices, while a low score suggests issues that could affect email deliverability.

What factors influence the sender score?

There are a number of reasons that can influence a sender score, including the quality and reputation of the email server, the number of spam complaints, and the number of bounces. Sender score is also influenced by how often an email is sent, the content of the email, and how well your email is formatted.

How can I improve my sender score?

Here are a few things that you can do to improve your sender score and, as a result, the deliverability of your email marketing campaigns. Some of these tips are:

  1. Use an email marketing service provider that has a good reputation and a high sender score. This will help to ensure that your campaigns reach their intended recipients’ inboxes, instead of going to spam.
  2. Make sure that your email content is relevant and interesting to your subscribers. If they perceive your emails as spammy or irrelevant, they are more likely to unsubscribe or report them as spam.
  3. Avoid using spammy tactics like buying email lists or sending too many emails in a short period of time. These practices can damage your sender score and lead to fewer people receiving your emails. Collect leads organically through forms.
  4. Monitor your open and click-through rates closely. If they are low, it could be an indication that your subscribers are not interested in your content. In this case, you may need to adjust your strategy or send frequency.
  5. Make sure that your website and email design is optimised for mobile devices. A large percentage of people now access their email accounts via mobile devices, so it’s important to ensure that your content looks good on all screen sizes, mobile or tablet.
  6. Use reputable opt-in methods when collecting subscribers’ contact information. This will help to ensure that you are only sending messages to people who have explicitly agreed to receive them.

Check out the full checklist of steps to take for improving email deliverability here.

What is the impact of the sender score on email deliverability?

The Sender Score has a significant impact on email deliverability, which refers to the likelihood of your emails successfully reaching the recipients’ inboxes without being filtered out as spam or junk. Here’s how the Sender Score influences this:

  1. Inbox Placement vs. Spam Folder: A high Sender Score, generally above 80, suggests a good reputation and increases the chances that your emails will be delivered directly to recipients’ inboxes. Conversely, a low score can lead to emails being directed to spam folders or not delivered at all.
  2. Email Filtering Decisions: Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email services use Sender Score as one of the factors to determine how to handle incoming emails. A low score can trigger stricter filtering criteria, causing emails to be blocked or filtered.
  3. Trust Among Recipients: A consistently high Sender Score helps in building trust with your audience. Recipients are more likely to engage with emails that consistently arrive in their inbox, as opposed to those that are intermittently marked as spam.
  4. Rate of Delivery: The Sender Score affects the rate at which emails are accepted by ISPs. A lower score can lead to throttling, where ISPs limit the rate of email acceptance from an IP address due to concerns about spam.
  5. Blacklisting Risk: A significantly low Sender Score increases the risk of being blacklisted by email monitoring organizations. Being on a blacklist can severely impact deliverability, as many ISPs and email services use these lists to filter incoming emails.

How can I track my sender score?

  1. Use Sender Score Services: The most direct way to track your Sender Score is by using the service provided by Validity Inc., which acquired Return Path. You can visit the Sender Score website and sign up for their service. Once registered, you can enter your IP address to view your score. This service is often free and provides a detailed report of your score and the factors influencing it.
  2. Regular Monitoring: It’s advisable to check your Sender Score regularly. This is especially true if you’re making changes to your email strategies, such as increasing email volume, changing your content, or acquiring new email lists.
  3. Email Service Provider (ESP) Tools: Some Email Service Providers offer tools and analytics that include reputation monitoring. These tools might not provide a Sender Score directly, but they can offer insights into factors that influence your score, like delivery rates, bounce rates, and spam complaints.
  4. Feedback Loops and Analytic Reports: Signing up for feedback loops with ISPs can help you track how often your emails are marked as spam, which affects your Sender Score. Analyzing these reports helps in identifying issues and taking corrective actions.
  5. Third-Party Monitoring Tools: There are various third-party email analytics and monitoring tools available that can provide insights into your email deliverability and sender reputation. These tools often give a broader view by integrating data from multiple sources, including blacklists and ISP feedback.

You can also track your sender score through tools like MxToolBox. This tool will allow you to see your reputation score, as well as how it compares to other senders so that you can make the necessary changes.

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