Getting blacklisted is a matter of great worry to email marketers across the world. Sometimes, even if all email best practices are followed, marketers practicing healthy email marketing also come across situations where their domain or IP addresses get blacklisted! This post enlightens the email marketing fraternity about the various implications of getting blacklisted and its effect on your email marketing campaigns.
EMAIL BLACKLISTS: MEANING & TYPES
Email Blacklists are a compilation of IP addresses and domains flagged as “known” sources of spam, collected over a course of time, based upon email recipient’s spam complaints, increased bounce rates and other spam-traps, over a course of time.
The two prominent types of blacklists are IP based blacklists & domain based blacklists. The prominent IP-based blacklists include Reputation Network Blacklist, Spam Cop, psbl.surriel.com, cbl.abuseat.org, pbl.spamhaus.org, sbl.spamhaus.org, xbl.spamhaus.org, and ubl.unsubscore.com. Domain-based blacklists include Dbl.spamhaus.org, URIBL, and SURBL . Keyword based blacklists exist too that blacklist the addresses based on the use of spam-inclined words. However, keyword based blacklists are getting narrowed day by day as it is not regarded as a sure-shot way of identifying spam.
Return Path’s recent survey based on an analysis of 20,000 blacklisting events, elaborates on the loss of business that is caused by the blacklist nightmare.
EMAIL BLACKLISTS: WHAT HAPPENS!
Once your domain or IP address is blacklisted, your inbox placement rates would largely deplete, as ISP gateways would not approve of any emails going through the blacklisted IP or domain. This greatly affects your email campaigns and can decimate your email marketing returns.
An increased number of spam complaints and hard bounces are a sure shot way to go straight to the blacklist. However, sometimes healthy email sending practitioners are also blacklisted, due to the spam-trap approach used in preparation of blacklists. Spam traps are email addresses activated for the sole purpose of catching illegitimate email and identifying senders with poor data quality practices. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and anti-spam organizations create and manage a variety of spam trap networks for the same purpose. Blacklisting resultant of unhealthy email sending practices or spam traps – the damage to your business is equal in both the cases.
Blacklists have been giving huge business owners a run for their money, where Monks bring you the implications of being blacklisted and what can be done to be able to prevent spam traps. The know how’s of how blacklists operate showcased in the report, shall help businesses stay off blacklists the following focuses on the effects of it all!
LET US LOOK AT THE NUMBERS!
- For how many days does a typical blacklisting last?
Some numbers in the above table are really huge to sink in and can greatly affect your various aspects of email metrics such as the open, conversion rate, click through rate and revenues derived from marketing emails. Staying on the blacklist from 6 to any number of days would disturbingly impact your inbox placement rates and deliverability. It is damaging to your long term relationships with your loyal subscribers as they would be expecting to hear from you. Also, they probably would not buy from you again for a long time because of the loss of trust. This would further lead to loss of credibility in the minds of various stakeholders, finally leading to loss of money and business, hence implying: blacklisting can be unaffordable.
- What time of the year is blacklisting highest?
According to Return Path’s survey, the Christmas season, which is also the highest email volume season, saw the most blacklisting. Summertime seconded the lead in the category.
With blacklisting as high as more than 49% of the total occurring during November and December implies that holidays are the times when maximum blacklisting occurs. This happens as marketers resort to aggressive marketing blasts to maximize their reach, as holidays can be a revenue showering opportunity for marketers. Blacklisting events are often triggered with the use of new email lists from third parties or by sending emails to subscribers that have been inactive for a very long time.
- Which days of the week are peak blacklisting days?
According to the survey, Wednesday is the most common day to be blacklisted at Spamhaus with 68% if listings occurring that day, whereas Sunday saw the highest blacklisting number at AHBL with 71% of the listing occurring that day. Staying aware about these days must help the marketers to pick their day for the email blast. Also, marketers can resort to more conservative email sending practices on such days, to assure that their domain names or IPs don’t fall prey of spam traps.
*The thoughts stated above are our own while the numbers have been picked from a Return Path survey.
EMAIL BLACKLISTS: REMEDIES TO STAY MILES AWAY
Now that we know about the perils of being blacklisted, businesses can steer clear of the same by incorporating email marketing best practices at both the before sending and sending stages. The following can help you prevent blacklisting up to a considerable extent:
- Practice email list hygiene on regular basis which involves expelling unsubscribes & inactive addresses to control the bounce rates. Purchased email lists are a strict no no!
- Set email frequency and email content expectations at the opt-in process itself, for minimal unsubscribe requests.
- Send emails only to those subscribers who have permitted you to do the same, to avoid multiple spam complaints. Also note that the subscriber’s consent must be demonstrative and track-able at any point in time.
- If you’re sending emails from dedicated IPs, make sure the sending volume across the IPs is consistent.
- Sending from domains commonly linked with spam under the prominent blacklists must be avoided.
- Tool alerts that notify when your IP gets blacklisted are also available, try to keep using one of those, so that you can take effective measures in the least amount of time.
- Never send emails that contain links to malicious software, websites or any form of questionable content.
- If your business uses shared IPs, make sure your partners follow email best practices too. It is advisable to have a private IP dedicated to your marketing emails, that ways you can learn about your spam trap rate too.
- Subscription requests from malformed addresses (e.g.: firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.) and role email accounts (e.g.: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.) are advised to be rejected.
Lastly, if blacklisted you need to learn the main causes of being blacklisted, where your ISPs would help you know what exactly went wrong. Re-invent your email practices and correct your ways after being de-listed from such BLACKLISTS!