What is a blacklist in the context of email marketing? In today’s article, we will explain everything you need to know about blacklists and the best ways to avoid them.
Isn’t it frustrating how some of your emails never make it to their recipients?
Sometimes, even a single small issue will negatively affect your email deliverability.
Maybe it is a full inbox, a bad email address, a typo… And then, of course, you may end up on a blacklist, which prevents your emails from ever reaching their recipient.
And sure, a simple writing mistake or bad email address is a small time deal and can be fixed very easily.
But with blacklists… it’s a different story.
These lists can do some serious damage to your business so you should make sure you don’t end up on one!
Now, if you are using a reputable Email Service Provider (ESP), and you follow healthy email marketing practices, you most likely have nothing to worry about.
But even in this case, it is important to learn about blacklists so you can better understand email marketing.
So, what is a blacklist and how does it affect your campaigns?
What is a blacklist?
A blacklist is a list that contains IP addresses and domains known to send spam.
These lists are mostly used by internet service providers and free mailbox providers to prevent themselves from spam.
Landing a spot in a list like this will depend on the quality and amount of emails you send to your list.
And while you may think that blacklists are frustrating, the truth is different.
In fact, blacklists are very helpful for individuals and companies alike.
This is because nearly 90% of all emails sent, on a daily basis, are spam and it is thanks to these lists that your inbox looks clean and empty.
How companies get on blacklists
Companies and individuals will have their IP blacklisted when their email marketing campaigns receive high spam complaints or when they are sent to bad email lists.
Here is a more detailed overview of what leads to blacklisting:
- Spam content – If your readers mark your emails as spam, the ISPs will assume that your content is bad. The more complaints you receive, the more likely your IP address will be added to a blacklist.
- Bad lists or addresses – A high volume of bounced email addresses indicates that your list may not be built up in a natural way (e.g. a bought list). A few blacklists also use what is known as a “spamtrap” to locate spamming IP addresses. A spam trap is an email address that has no owner but can be publicly found and used to grow one’s list. Any emails sent to that address will suffer blacklisting.
- A sudden increase in list size – An organic email list grows slowly over time. If a list seems to explode in growth in a relatively short period of time, most internet service providers will assume that your list is unnatural.
- No unsubscribe button – According to GDPR, it is mandatory to have a unsubscribe button in every email you send. Not doing so may cause people to mark your emails as spam since you do not respect their decision on whether they’d like to follow you or not.
- Low Open Rates – A very low amount of open rates may also be an indication of a bought (or rented) email list. In both cases, you stand a chance of getting blacklisted since some ESPs may think of your emails as spam.
What to do in case of blacklisting
You now know what a blacklist is, so the next step is to take precautions to avoid ending up on one.
In general, if your IP address is blacklisted, there is most likely an issue with your email marketing strategy.
After all, what is a blacklist, if not a direct result of miscommunication?
1) Large scale blacklists
The large scale blacklists that are used by ISPs can have a direct, negative impact on your email deliverability and, as a result, your business.
If your IP address is added to a blacklist of that scale, the best thing you can do is contact the list and ask to be removed.
Most major blacklists have a step-by-step guide on their websites on how you can remove yourself from that list.
Most times, the process is simple and easy to follow. Simply go through the process and you will be ok.
2) Small scale blacklists
For smaller lists, if you simply change your mailing behavior and lower your spam rate you should be removed from the list without any additional work.
If you want to check whether or not your IP address is on a blacklist, you can use MX Toolbox.
They will let you know how you can fix the problem and contact the blacklists to have you removed.
How do you avoid blacklisting?
As we already mentioned, the primary reason for blacklisting lies with the quality of your mailing list and your content.
The best thing you can do for your email marketing campaigns is to avoid becoming part of such a list in the first place. And here’s how you can do that:
- Email content – Send emails that are relevant and engaging to your audience. To do so, it is important to initially break your list into segments. Not everyone will enjoy reading the same email as they have different interests and needs. So make sure your subscribers receive what actually helps them in one way or another. If you don’t, you may soon be looking at spam complaints. Aside from the content you send, pay attention to the frequency as well. If you start sending daily emails after a long time of weekly newsletters, expect to get some delivery trouble.
- Check the metrics – You’re most likely observing important metrics, such as opens and clicks. To be certain, make sure you check domain opens as well. In order to do that, you will need to add UTM parameters to your domain and explore the traffic, through Google Analytics. If a large drop in traffic occurs for one or more of your domains, you may be blacklisted.
- Build your list, don’t buy it– Do not buy email lists. The email addresses included in these lists are non-engaging and, in some cases, spamtraps. The results may be devastating for your deliverability rates and your business goals.
And, even if you are using an organic mailing list, make sure you remove inactive or bounced email addresses.
- Create segments –Create targeted sub-lists by dividing your main list into smaller segments. These could be based on location, purchase behavior, or general interests. Sending personalized emails is always better when it comes to subscribers’ engagement and satisfaction.
And that’s all you need to know!
Now you have a better understanding of blacklists and what you can do to avoid them. Remember to send high-quality content and only use organic email lists that you have built over time.
Also, keep an eye on the metrics of your campaigns to not only see where you can improve but also to improve your deliverability.
All in all, with a good understanding and application of basic email marketing, you have nothing to worry about.