What are the dangers for email marketing and how can senders protect their reputation?

The worst email is the one that doesn’t reach its recipient. A very high deliverability rate is therefore essential, but it often happens that the recipients refuse emails apparently without reason. In the worst case, you end up on the blacklist of senders and your emails will no longer be delivered to all recipients. In this article, we will see what we can do in the event of bounces, blacklists and spam traps.

Bounces or bounces are emails that don’t reach the recipient for several reasons. Soft bounces are temporary problems such as a full inbox or an overloaded and unavailable server. In this case, it might be possible to deliver the emails later. On the other hand, “hard bounces” are definitive problems such as non-existent addresses and they should absolutely not be ignored, because that is the heart of the question!

To know if it is a soft bounce or hard bounce, you have to look at the status code sent by the recipient’s server. If the code starts with 4, it’s a soft bounce. If it starts with 5, it is a hard bounce, therefore a definitive error. If this error is a technical defect, it may be repaired and the corresponding email address may be available again.

Those who believe they can ignore hardbounces fall into a dangerous trap, because many Internet service providers (ISPs) and spam filter manufacturers take into account the “bouncerate”, that is to say the rate of emails. which are rejected as hardbounces. If this percentage is too high, the sender may be working poorly and not managing their address lists correctly, or even sending spam. In the worst case, the sender is completely blocked by the supplier. Therefore :

  • Keep your lists clean and remove bounces immediately, at best automatically. At the latest after the third bounce, the corresponding address should have disappeared from your mailing list;
  • If you are unsure whether it is a hard bounce or a soft bounce, remove the address from the mailing list;
  • Make sure your bounce rate is never more than 1%;
  • Always use the Double Opt-In procedure to register new recipients.

Do you always keep your lists clean, immediately remove hard bounces from the mailing lists and think that you are now on the safe side? Unfortunately not, because there are always spam traps, ie email addresses used, among others, by ISPs and blacklist operators to identify potential spammers. Recycled spam traps are real people’s email addresses that have been disabled at some point. Six to twelve months after deactivation, such an address can be reactivated as spam. Since no communication has taken place for a long time via this e-mail address, ISPs and blacklist operators assume that the sender of these e-mails only inadequately manages their distribution lists (for example example, it does not eliminate hard bounces) and they blacklist it.

“Pristine spam traps” are email addresses that are never used for communication, but only published as a decoy on the Internet and are a special form of spam trap. Intact addresses are usually detected by harvesters, programs that automatically search for email addresses on the web, which are then sold.

Once you are on a blacklist, it is very difficult to get out of it. What can you do to avoid being blacklisted? Here are some tips to reduce this risk!

Do not touch the lists of addresses purchased or rented

Never send emails to addresses of purchased and rented lists. This does not comply with the new data protection rules, it certainly affects your deliverability and possibly you could end up on a black list.

Stop sending emails to addresses with hard bounces

Remove hard bounces from your distribution lists as quickly as possible. Invalid email addresses can be activated after a while as spam traps and you will end up on a blacklist. With too high a bounce rate, recipients will think that you are a spammer and will decide to stop accepting your emails.

Beware of emails sent to unanswered addresses

You should be careful even with email addresses that have not responded to your emails for a long time. In the worst case, it is spam traps with no real recipients. In the best of cases, these are contacts who delete your messages without reading them or transfer them, annoyed, to the spam folder. Both cases damage your reputation as a sender. However, this mainly concerns consumer newsletters.

Communicate regularly

E-mail addresses you haven’t written to in more than six months may have become a spam trap without you noticing, because you haven’t registered a hard bounce. Special care should be taken with address lists that you have not used for a long time.

The CertifiedSenders Alliance, a whitelist project from the e-commerce association ecoe.V. in cooperation with the German Marketing Dialogue Association (DDV), requires in its criteria a maximum bounce rate of 1%. So that processing bounces does not become a problem, CSA experts also advise you to always use the double opt-in procedure to register new recipients. Here you find the CSA admission criteria.