Domain Reputation Check

Companies depend on emails for everything from sales to marketing, public relations, customer services, internal communications, and whatnot. They can’t afford a poor domain reputation as it’s considered everywhere your domain is used, including From Address, Return-Path, DKIM signing paths, etc. Domain reputation is a type of email sender reputation which is a score that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) give to you based on your email sending history. 

This blog will talk about what domain reputation is, the factors affecting it, ways to improve it, etc. 

What is Domain Reputation?

Domain reputation is how your domain is perceived by mailbox providers (like Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.). You can consider it as the health or condition of your branded domain. The better the reputation, the lesser the bounce-back frequency, as recipients’ mailboxes regard you as a trusted sender.

The internet service providers and mailbox providers decide where your email should land- inbox or spam folder. Domain reputation is one of the main factors considered while making this decision. 

Thus, regular domain reputation checks are necessary to ensure all your emails reach targeted recipients’ inboxes only.  It also helps you know if someone is using your brand’s domain for phishing or other malicious activities in your name. In 2021, 83% of brands reported experiencing phishing attacks, and by the end of 2022, cybersecurity experts are anticipating an additional six billion attacks.

Domain Reputation Vs. IP Reputation

IP reputation indicates the trustworthiness of the devices corresponding to a specific IP address. Your IP reputation is influenced negatively when your emails get flagged as spam. Other factors affecting it are IP address location, the types of activities it’s associated with, and if it has been blacklisted. Both IP reputation and domain reputation are crucial for online security and email deliverability rate.

How is Domain Reputation Calculated?

Receivers’ mailboxes calculate domain reputation by keeping track of ways your domain is used in a message and how the message performs in the inbox. Then the ISPs give scores using complex algorithms based on various factors. The score is used for scanning all forthcoming emails to establish trust. The more your emails pass a particular receiver’s deliverability checks, the lower the probability of landing in the spam folder. 

So, as a sender, you need to understand that a particular domain has numerous reputations, each unique to the proprietary scoring processes a specific receiver employs. The reputation also varies because you don’t send the same message to all the recipients.  Simply put, the way Gmail perceives your domain can be different from Yahoo. Thus, it’s vital c for a healthy business.

Checking Domain Reputation

Domain reputation checks can help understand how different mailbox providers perceive your domain. But the more they share how they evaluate the goodness and badness of domains, the more the hackers will exploit the data to bypass cybersecurity checks. That’s why these algorithms and factors aren’t disclosed publicly. 

Google Postmaster Tools is one of the common free online tools used to test domain reputation.

Why is Regular Domain Reputation Check Important?

Domain reputation is a key factor involved in maintaining a healthy email deliverability rate. If your domain has an unhealthy reputation, your emails will likely fall into the spam or junk folder. This will directly impact communication and campaign execution. Here’s what will happen:

  • The email opening rate would be low.
  • Engagement and conversions would become challenging.
  • Precious customers and prospects won’t receive the message.
  • Poor customer relations.

Factors That Affect Your Domain Reputation

Emails are inevitable in today’s corporate structure, and companies can’t afford a bad domain reputation. There are numerous factors affecting it, and below are the major ones. 

Blocklisting

Mailbox and internet service providers blocklist suspicious domains to prevent cybercrimes like phishing and email spoofing. A domain is blocklisted when recipients mark emails coming from it as spam. If a specific email sent out to several recipients has a high spam rate, the domain will be blocklisted. 

You must avoid email blocklisting to improve domain reputation. Cleaning your email list regularly and validating new subscribers’ addresses will help.

Poor Engagement Rate

A high unsubscribe rate and poor engagement among recipients result in a poor domain reputation. This is one of the deciding factors used by ESPs and ISPs to give a score to your domain. 

Optimizing subject lines, conducting A/B testing, fun copies, adding a call to action button, etc., are some practical ways to get a healthy engagement rate and improve domain reputation

Spam Traps

Spam tracks refer to fake email addresses found by blocklisting services in hidden locations. So, educate yourself and your team not to send emails to spam tracks as it deteriorates the email deliverability rate. 

Regular domain reputation checks can help you understand mistakes you might be making while handling emails. 

Domain Age

Domain age is described as the length of your domain’s existence, and anti-spam filters use it for their processes. You can warm it up by sending cold emails to your database to improve domain reputation.

Inconsistency in Volume

Genuine marketers expand their email database as the business grows. This means they send more emails as their business grows old. If these numbers are inconsistent, your domain reputation will be hampered, so ensure sending emails at the right frequency and timing. 

How to Improve Domain Reputation?

Domain reputation depends on your email-sending behaviour. Follow these tips to keep it healthy.

Warm-Up Your IP Address

New IP addresses have no reputation, and sending hundreds of emails using that will make your domain look spammy. So, increase the number over a few weeks instead of maxing out at the start only. 

Use Email Authentication Protocols

Email authentication protocols prevent spammers from misusing your domain name to send fraudulent and phishing emails.

SPF

SPF uses a list of IP addresses authorized to send emails using your domain. You can direct the recipients’ mailboxes on how to treat emails coming from unauthorized IP addresses- none, quarantine, or reject.

DKIM

DKIM uses signatures added to email headers to verify the authenticity of the senders. It prevents man-in-the-middle attacks and other malicious activities that hackers attempt using your brand’s name.

DMARC

A DMARC record is a TXT record published to DNS to tell your email domain’s policy after checking SPF and DKIM status. DMARC authenticates if either SPF, DKIM, or both pass. This is referred to as DMARC alignment or identifier alignment.

BIMI

With BIMI, domain owners and brands control officially displayed logos, which are maintained consistently in all inbound emails. 

Send Consistent Volume and Relevant Emails

Another effective way to maintain a good domain reputation is to send relevant, engaging, and value-adding emails to get a high opening rate. You never know, subscribers might forward them if they’re valuable.

Key Takeaways

It isn’t easy to get email deliverability right, but it isn’t impossible, either. The best way is to ensure a healthy domain reputation which can be achieved by using email authentication protocols, high-quality and relevant content, longer domain age, etc. 

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