Jenna Devinney
Jenna Devinney 22 January 2020

Email Sender Reputation - Your Company’s Marketing FICO Score

Most marketers are aware that every company sending email has a Sender Reputation Score that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use to rate how well their messages are being received by subscribers.  Unfortunately, not a lot of marketers understand all the factors that are used to generate that score, or are unsure how to repair a damaged reputation.  This can lead to problems with deliverability and causes campaigns to fail before they get a chance to make an impression on their target audience. 

Even worse, if gone unchecked it can lead to a marketer being black-listed and cripple an organisation’s ability to engage with its customers and prospects.   

Email Sender Reputation is your organisation’s credit score for being able to message.  To stay in the good graces of your ISP, let's better understand the major threats to that score.

Spam Advisory Domains/Spam Traps

These are tools used by the major ISPs to identify and ultimately block people or organisations deemed to not abide by the rules of permissions-based email marketing.  They don’t belong to an actual person, so they are not be able to opt-in.  Having them in your list indicates to an ISP that you’re not maintaining good list health.  

Malicious Moles

Also known as “Scomps”, and similar to seeded trackers made to track delivery rates, except these are email addresses deliberately created to report campaign statistics to blacklists.  They are trying to get you in trouble.


Think of a honeypot as a type of spam trap that is hidden in code.  They are often created to catch bots, scraping tech, and other auto-harvesting methods used by spammers to acquire new email addresses.  Webbula maintains exclusive relationships with the world’s largest honeypot purveyors, meaning that we can go deeper than any other provider in identifying these threats for you.  

Blacklisted Emails

ISPs use these to catch marketers committing the actions listed above and label that organisation’s domain or IP address blacklisted.  This will result in your email server being extremely limited or blocked outright, and will also commonly result in you going through an IRS audit style process to prove to your ISP and email service provider that you are not a spammer.  

Note: Engagement metrics like open rates, forwards, deletions, etc. also play an important role in good sender reputation.  It’s important to keep tabs on your campaigns progression across those numbers.  

Webbula helps organisations every day in identifying the threats listed above. We are often asked about what to do once we’ve provided the identification reporting, especially on those email addresses that also have a high frequency of opening and/or clicking on your links within your email campaigns.  Here’s what we recommend:

  • Understand your risk tolerance: Have a conversation with your team and ask, what did the report show to be the most frequent, and how much risk do we want as a company in keeping those emails active? This helps you set a baseline in making data-driven decisions vs. emotionally based corrections.
  • Segment and Track: Once Webbula identifies what we deem as a reputation threat, segment them out and send your campaign separately.  Review the value that their open rates, click thru rates, etc. provide and make the decision to keep or remove from future sends. 
  • Ask for suggested best practices: We’ve been providing email hygiene services for ten years.  Chances are we have worked with another client that’s had a similar situation and can share with you what they’ve done and the results they’ve seen.  
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