by Anna Wybieralska Jun 17, 2020

Sending an email campaign is not easy. You often spend hours perfecting every little detail in your email, writing compelling content, optimizing it to your email service provider, etc. Finally, you select the proper list or segment to launch your campaign. Sadly even with so much work put into it, some emails never reach the dedicated recipients. You can easily fix issues like bounced emails or typos. However, when we are talking about blacklists, the problem gets a bit more complicated.

What is a blacklist?

To put it simply, a blacklist is a big library holding all the IPs and domains that are known for sending spam. At the same time, it acts as a filter, to block messages sent from them in real-time.

Blacklists are often a nightmare for an email marketer but they’re actually very useful tools. Just think about it - over half of the emails sent worldwide are marked as spam. If for some reason blacklists stopped working, each inbox (including yours) would be flooded with spam emails that add no value to your life. So blacklist helps you keep your inbox clutter-free and relevant to your interests.

How does it work?

If you are using a reputable ESP and you’re keeping in mind the best email marketing practices, you’ve likely never had a problem with blacklisting. However, if you receive high spam complaints or send emails to bad email lists it can pretty much guarantee that you’ll land a spot on a blacklist. 

If you are sending your emails through an ESP, they will most likely contact you if they notice an issue with your account. You can also check it yourself, by running a quick scan on one of the designated websites. If you find yourself on such a list, here are a couple of possible reasons why.

  1. Your email content is not great. If you’re sending blanket emails instead of personalizing them to your recipients, you can get a lot of spam complaints.
  2. High bounces or bad emails. They might indicate that your list was bought or that there were spamtraps within it.
  3. Your list has doubled in size. Honestly, any rapid growth in your email list might be a red light for blacklist companies. Usually, lists grow slowly over time, they do not blow up overnight.
  4. Recipients don't open your emails. If your open rates are very low, this can also indicate that the email list was not obtained naturally.

What you need to do in this case is to contact the relevant organization directly to find out how you can get removed. Each of those companies has its own requirements, usually on its site. But staying off the list for good will require you to take care of your email marketing practices. Otherwise, you might end up on this list just as quickly as last time. So, how do you avoid landing on a blacklist?

  1. Segment, segment, segment. Divide your lists into smaller categories to provide better and more personalized content. Emails that are more catered towards customer behavior will less likely be marked as spam.
  2. Don’t buy your list. Most of the lists that are bought have spamtraps or are not engaged, which means that your hard work will go for nothing. Keep in mind to still maintain your organic list and remove any inactive or bounced emails.
  3. Work on your content. If recipients are marking your emails as spam, there might be something wrong with the content. Try to match the interests of customers via segments, and pay attention to the frequency! Daily emails are nice but they can quickly become a nuisance. If you are not sure how to start - try A/B testing.
  4. Check your metrics. Every good email marketer will monitor how their email opens and clicks. But that is not all. Check your domain stats by adding UTM parameters to your domain, and through Google Analytics. If you find a significant drop, something is wrong and you might be on blacklist.

Anna Wybieralska

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