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From spam to glam: Easy ways to restore your bad email rep

March 31, 2021

Got a bad reputation?

This isn’t a spunky punk anthem sung by Joan Jett - having a bad email domain reputation is
bad news.

Especially if you’re trying to do
outbound sales.

Or worse:

They don’t get delivered at all…


The good news is you can fix it!

It’s difficult and will take a long time, but it can be done.

With the help of Cognism’s experts:

Get the answers by scrolling 👇 or skipping to a section - use the menu below.

What is email domain reputation? | How does email domain reputation work? | What happens if you have a poor email domain reputation? | How do you check your email domain reputation? | How can you improve your email domain reputation? | Book a demo with Cognism

What is email domain reputation? 🤔

“Email domain reputation is the overall health of your domain as interpreted by the different email servers/mailbox providers. It’s basically a measurement of your email sending practices and how closely you follow standards set by these providers.” - Olivia

To sum up, it’s based on two factors:

Factor 1:

Like your own reputation, it takes time to build up, so all new email domains are immediately considered suspicious for the first 5 days.

Factor 2:

Your email domain gets a classification on the web that can include anything from education, business, finance or dating to name a few.

How does email domain reputation work? 📩

Your email service provider keeps track of how you're using your domain. Then their algorithm rates it on a scale of 0 to 100.

To ensure trust, they'll check your score and scan your messages. The better your score, the less likely your email will end up rejected or in spam.

“The top email servers (Gmail, Outlook, Zoho) use spam detectors to keep senders and recipients safe from phishing and malicious behaviour. So as a sender, you need to do the best you can to avoid this and make sure your content is not going to be flagged incorrectly.” - Marianne

This means your domain reputation isn't just one constant - there are thousands of reputations unique to the specific scoring processes of each receiver.

Factors considered for your score include:

  • The amount of times your email is marked as spam
  • How often it's read
  • How often it's deleted without being read
  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • The number of times you get a response
  • How often it's forwarded
  • All the times your emails are marked as "Not Spam"
  • Hard bounces

What happens if you have a poor email domain reputation? 😔

If you have a poor email domain reputation your emails are going to go straight to spam!


In fact:

77% of most email deliverability issues are a result of a bad domain reputation.

What's more, if more and more of your emails go to spam, they are likely to stay there. This is because no one is going to be interacting with your emails if they go directly to junk.

And it’s not just spam, often your emails won’t even be delivered at all.

Olivia says:

“A poor domain will start making its way into the respective spam filters over time and emails will no longer land in the recipient’s inbox. You may find that you are landing in one spam filter but not the other, as mailbox providers filter them differently using unique algorithms.”

And if it gets too bad, it can be incredibly difficult to recover from.

You can try to change your IP address and your content, but since your domain is scored via your sending history and the behaviour of your recipients, it won't do any good.  

“It’s important to stay on top of this though and investigate the blacklist to see if it’s going to be damaging or not. You can check your domain and IP respectively using different websites such as MXToolbox.” - Marianne

How do you check your email domain reputation? 🕵️‍♂️

It's incredibly difficult to discover your domain score, as the algorithms used to determine them are top secret. This is to avoid scammers and other nefarious senders from using this data to their advantage.  

However, there are several tools you can try to gauge an idea of your domain's reputation, but keep in mind - if you can't find too much information on your domain, it's likely good news for your score!

Here are five tools that can help:

  1. Reputation Authority - they've built an outstanding reputation for checking domain reputations.
  2. SenderScore - if you want a detailed report you'll need to sign up, but you can see your domain rating without an account.
  3. TalosIntelligence - A Cisco service, this tool can tell you if your ranking is good, neutral or poor as well as if you have a favourable or unfavourable ranking.
  4. BarracudaCentral - regularly updated, this is a very simple tool that tells you if you're blacklisted or not as well as what category your domain falls into at present.
  5. Google Postmaster Tools - used to check Google domains, giving you a detailed look at everything from your spam rate and domain and IP reputation to delivery errors and your reputation levels.

How can you improve your email domain reputation? 📤

Your domain reputation can be tough to restore.

“If a domain is landing in spam, improving the reputation takes time and patience. The process may be easier depending on the service provider you are using, as well as the spam filters you are landing in.” - Olivia

Pause all your outgoing email campaigns and start investigating. If you can discover why, you can start the long journey to fixing it:

Get out of spam

Start off by sending a few emails to trusted sources. Ask them to reply to your mail or mark it as not spam. Continue doing this until your reputation goes back to normal.

Clean your lists

Has someone asked to unsubscribe? By law, you have to unsubscribe them. Then remove anyone who doesn’t respond to your emails and anyone with a soft or hard bounce.

Check your domain

Make sure the domain authentication is set-up correctly. SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is the most important as this confirms you are who you say you are. DKIM and DMARC are also important but require some time and effort and a knowledgeable team to set-up.

Start small

Don’t send out massive amounts of emails all at once. Start small and slowly increase the volume over time. (Especially if you have a new domain. New domains are already fishy, so start even smaller!)

Target interested buyers

Mass emailing prospects who don’t fit your TAM isn’t going to get you anywhere in B2B sales and will only get you marked as spam. Best practice is to segment your audience and only target those who you feel could benefit or truly want what you’re selling.

Avoid shared IPs

If you can get a dedicated IP address, fantastic! It will avoid you experiencing the repercussions of other people's mistakes.

However, this isn’t a great option for anyone who sends less than 10k emails a day. If this is the case, make sure your email service provider is following all guidelines to maintain the reputation of the shared IP address pool.

Refine your content

Avoid anything that comes across as spammy in your email content. This includes: words in all caps, multiple exclamation points, buzzwords like ‘free’, ‘win’, cash’etc. and long subject lines.

Furthermore, your email should always include the option to opt-out.

Check feedback loops

If your email doesn’t make it to an inbox, you can check why via the feedback loop that most email providers supply. This way you can find out what the problem is and fix it before it ruins your email domain reputation.

Book a demo with Cognism 🚀

If you’re worried about diving into the deep end of outbound, why not get help from the experts and avoid any reputation damage while you’re at it?

Our Interactive team offers a seamlessly managed outbound prospecting service, from personalised copy to end-to-end execution and management of your outbound campaigns.


Go on, give it a go today. 👇 Who knows, with us, you might even land your largest deal yet!

Request your demo now

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