Email marketing seems like an easy win for your inbound marketing strategy. Write an awesome email, put in some snazzy images, fire it off to your opt-in list, and watch the customers roll in.
Even if it all was that easy, though, the step marketers often overlook is just how difficult it can be to actually get your email into a recipient’s inbox in the first place. Seems basic, but there are tons of moving parts involved in email deliverability, and a huge one is the reputation of the email sender.
Luckily, there’s a service called Return Path that has a metric called Sender Score, which gives you insight into your reputation as an email sender.
Have you checked your Sender Score? If you do know your Sender Score, do you know what it means for your reputation as an email marketer? If you’re interested in your reputation as an email sender, read on to learn everything you need to know about Sender Score.
A free service of Return Path, the Sender Score algorithm rates the reputation of every outgoing mail server IP address on a scale from 0-100. Your Sender Score will continue to change depending on your email sending habits and the responses of your recipients.
To collect your Sender Score, Return Path gathers data from over 60 million mailboxes at big ISPs like BellSouth and Comcast. They record if people frequently unsubscribe or report spam from certain email senders, and then assign you a Sender Score based on that monitoring.
It’s a crucial number to stay on top of, because mail servers will often check your Sender Score before deciding what to do with your emails. The lower your Sender Score, the harder time you’ll have getting into someone’s inbox. There are plenty of things that can impact the deliverability of your email, but Return Path reports that 83% of the time an email is not delivered to an inbox, it is due to a poor sender reputation.
Even if an email network or ISP doesn’t query your Sender Score to determine whether they will deliver your email, the factors used in determining your Sender Score are similar to those used by email networks and ISPs to determine your sender reputation. As such, the score is a great, free email sender reputation tool to ensure you are aware of and have the opportunity to fix any deliverability problems.
Two of the aspects that Return Path considers is your domain and IP reputation. Domain reputation is based on your sending domain, while your IP reputation is based on your IP address. This means that domain reputation considers your brand when determining your Sender Score.
Domain reputation and IP reputation are just a few of the considerations that are used to determine your overall Sender Score. Other characteristics include spam complaints, industry blacklists, and more.
Now that we know a little more about how your Sender Score is determined, let’s learn how to check your score.
Checking your Sender Score is actually an easy process. Use the steps below to get started.
To get started, go to the SenderScore.org home page.
Then, click the “Get Your Score” button in the middle of the page.
Next, fill out the form on the page.
As Sender Score is a free email reputation evaluation service from Return Path by Validity, you’ll have instant access to detailed reputation reports and other free tools.
Sender Score provides an indication of the trustworthiness of an email sender’s IP address. Mailbox providers evaluate the reputation of senders to determine whether to deliver messages into the inbox.
Lastly, click “Submit” and find out your Sender Score.
Once you know what your score is, you might be wondering, “What do I do with this information?” Below, let’s dive into how to interpret your score.
To check your Sender Score, visit Return Path’s registration page, and you’ll soon have a report that looks something like this (but with different data, of course!)
Scores are calculated on a rolling, 30-day average and represent the rank of an IP address against other IP addresses, much like a percentile ranking.
The closer your score is to 0, the worse it is, and if you’re close to 100 like Return Path is in this sample report, well you’re in pretty great shape! Now let’s break down what each of the items you’re being scored on in this report mean:
So, what’s a good score? If your score is over 80, congratulations! That’s a very good Sender Score. If your score is between 70 and 80, something isn’t right — move on to the next section of this blog post to see what you could be doing wrong that’s impacting your email deliverability. If your score is less than 70, well … you need to repair your sender reputation.
The first step is knowing, so good job on checking your score. It can take weeks or months to fix a low Sender Score, so the sooner you’re aware of the problem, the better. There are several aspects of your email marketing that you need to check and possibly change to improve your Sender Score and email delivery rates — here are the ones that Sender Score takes into serious account:
There are several other factors to getting your email into a recipient’s inbox — the content of your email, email infrastructure, recipients’ personal filtering preferences — more of which you can learn about in this email post about email deliverability.
Additionally, if you’re looking to start email marketing on the right food, consider taking HubSpot’s course on “Understanding Email Deliverability.“
To be successful with your email marketing, you need to build trust with the people receiving your emails. To build trust, you need to provide value. And to provide value, you need to know how your emails are performing to a healthy email deliverability strategy.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.