Blog Post

What is sender reputation and how can you manage it?

Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach your customers, with the amount of global email users currently around 3.7 billion and expected to grow to 4.3 billion by 2022. Whether you use email to promote offers and services, keep in touch with existing customers, or attract new customers – your deliverability rates depend upon your sender reputation.

What is sender reputation?

Your sender reputation works in the same way as a credit score, a good reputation makes it easier for you to gain trust from mail providers and avoid their SPAM filters, a bad reputation or no reputation will result in you being blacklisted and your emails classed as SPAM.

A sender reputation is built upon a number of factors;

  • SPAM complaints: If a subscriber feels that your email is unwanted, they can report it to their mail provider as a SPAM email. Currently, the acceptable SPAM complaint rate is 0.1%, so more than one complaint per every thousand emails will negatively affect your sender reputation.
  • Hard bounces: A hard bounce is a permanent reason that prevents an email from being delivered. Some of the common reasons for hard email bounces are: the recipient email doesn’t exist, the recipient’s server has completely blocked delivery, or the domain name doesn’t exist. If your email campaigns have a high number of hard bounces you could be penalised by mail providers in future. Most email marketing platforms will automatically remove email addresses that result in hard bounces.
  • SPAM traps: These are emails that have been created specifically to catch SPAM and often fall into three categories; New email addresses that have never opted into any email lists, recycled email addresses that have expired but have been revived to catch SPAM, and emails with purposefully misspelt domain names such as
  • Low engagement: Email engagement rates are measured on the amount of opens and clicks each email receives, if your email campaigns have persistently low engagement rates this will affect future deliverability.
  • Content blocks: Mail providers also take into account previous messages that were blocked and the reasons for the block, whether because of SPAM keywords or bad links.
  • Inconsistent volume: Sudden spikes in the amount of emails sent from your domain name or too many emails sent at once can trigger mail providers to class your emails as SPAM.
  • Technical issues: On-going technical issues such as an unauthenticated email address or other infrastructure problems will also harm your reputation.

Unfortunately, there is no central database that allows you to view your sender reputation, and it may differ between various mail providers. You can however use the metrics available to you to monitor your reputation yourself. Keeping track of your open rates, bounces and frequency of emails, alongside checking your mail campaigns for SPAM by using tools such as Mail Tester, will give you a strong indication of how well your reputation is performing.

How to improve your sender reputation

Improving your sender reputation should be a key focus of your email marketing strategy. The better your reputation, the more likely it is that your emails will be delivered.

Here are some steps you can take to build and improve on your sender reputation:

  • Monitor your reputation after each email campaign: if you notice you have more SPAM complaints or your reputation has taken a nose dive you need to work out why so you can avoid this happening again in the future.
  • List hygiene: Maintaining your database is essential for improving your sender reputation. Remove any disengaged subscribers that continually do not open your emails. This will improve your open rates and ensure that you are not sending irrelevant emails to people who may eventually report them as SPAM.
  • Easy Unsubscribe: Make it as easy as possible for people to unsubscribe from your mailing list. Hiding or obscuring your unsubscribe button will make it frustrating for your members and could result in them marking your emails as SPAM if they do not want to continue receiving them. When any of your members do unsubscribe try to collect feedback as to why, so you can modify your behaviour if necessary.
  • Segment your audience: it’s important to keep track of what your subscribers have signed up for. Add this as a field to your CRM system and always make sure you stick to it, for example, if someone has signed up for a monthly newsletter don’t include them in a daily updates campaign.


Segmenting your audience will also help you to personalise your marketing messages to improve your engagement rates. It’s unlikely to one message will appeal to your entire database, so segmenting helps you to craft a message that will resonate with different groups within your mailing list.

Want to learn more about email marketing? Read our previous blog posts.


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