Building your email list and sending out an email campaign could mean hours of work for you.
From writing a copy to sourcing images, formatting your message within an email service provider (ESP) to choosing your segments. All these take time and effort.
With all the hard work that goes into an email campaign, it’s terrible to think of experiencing a bounced or rejected email.
The reason why some of your emails never make it to your recipients’ inboxes could be that your sender’s domain or IP address has been blacklisted.
But, is being blacklisted really as bleak as they sound? Can you still get off the blacklist?
In this article, we’ll cover the important things you need to know about email blacklists and how to get off from one.
What is an Email Blacklist?
An email blacklist is a list of domains or IP addresses a blacklist operator caught sending emails to accounts they did not willingly subscribe to.
Simply put, those on the blacklist are considered bad actors. While most of these bad actors are generally spammers, any legitimate mailer who does not adhere to the email marketing best practices may also be impacted.
Being blacklisted also means an email campaign will not reach its intended audience and this can cause havoc on one’s marketing efforts.
Even worse, internet service providers (ISPs) have the right to blacklist any IP address on their own for whatever reason. They are not even obligated to clean non-compliance issues or hear email deliverability concerns.
The Internal Email Blacklist Service
Internet Service Providers (ISPs), like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook, may use third-party services to check an email blacklist, but they also have their own means to filter blacklisted emails. We call these the internal blacklist.
These ISPs may use spam filters to decide whether an email will be rejected entirely, flagged as suspicious, or delivered to the inbox.
Avoiding the spam folder is crucial in any email marketing campaign to prevent your email on a blacklist. If you do end up on an email blacklist, it means that your domain or IP has shown characteristics of doing a spam-related activity.
Now that we know what email blacklist is and tools to help you check if your domain or IP is in the blacklist database, let’s now move on to signs that you may be blacklisted.
Signs of Being Blacklisted
If you are running an email marketing campaign, a common sign that you’re blacklisted is when you can’t send emails to your subscribers’ mailbox properly. Often, it can be dropped at their MX (mail exchange) server and you will receive a bounce code.
This does not mean, however, that you will be entirely blacklisted from every mail server. You may be blacklisted on the DNSBL (Domain Name System Blacklists) service, but there are still other email blacklists on the internet that you’re not listed in.
DNSBL is a place where you can see the blacklist status of a mail server’s IP address on over a hundred DNS-based blacklists.
The reason is that they have different filtering mechanisms. But in summary, here are the common instances that you may be blacklisted.
- Deteriorating delivery rates
- Increase in email bounce rates
- Increase in the number of emails being dropped
Again, these are just warning signs. You can use the tools below to confirm.
Popular Email Blacklist Checker Tools of 2021
If you want to check if your domain listing is in the blacklist database, you can use these popular email blacklist check databases:
- DNSBL Blocklist Check
- Composite Blocking List (CBL)
- Spamcop Blocklist Checker Tool
- Spam and Open Relay Blocking System (SORBS)
- Spamhaus Block List (SBL)
- WhatIsMyIP’s Email Blocklist Checker
- IPVoid Email Blacklist Checker Tool
Be sure to stick to the major email blacklist checker tools to make sure that the report you get is relevant to your email marketing campaign and can be used to improve your overall email ROI.
How to Get Off of Email Blacklists
The easiest way to avoid an email blocklist is to never get on it. It sounds simple, but it’s wise. And in light of this, here are some practices to get off an email blacklist.
1. Check Return Path/Abuse Mailbox
If you handle your own email delivery, we encourage you to check your return path or abuse the mailbox. The email return path may also sometimes be referred to as reverse path, MAIL FROM, and envelope from.
From there, you may see whether a DNSBL list owner blacklisted your email or there’s a link to unlist your IP address or domain from that service. Doing these can help you get off the email blacklist.
Sometimes, editing your email header can improve your deliverability too, although there are a host of other things that play into consideration, like your sending reputation.
Now moving on to the next one.
2. Keep Your List Curated
One predominant culprit why an email is put on a blacklist is because it has included bad email addresses in its list. Worst case, some of these addresses are spam emails or spam traps. This can almost always guarantee your inclusion on a list of spam domains.
That’s why you should clean your list by removing bounced email addresses. But be sure to
differentiate between soft and hard bounces. Don’t just discard email addresses that are only experiencing a temporary hiccup.
To avoid landing in the spam folder, you need to honor your subscribers’ request for removal from your list too.
3. Monitor the Reputation of Your Domain and IP Addresses
Reputation monitoring will reduce your risk of being included on an email blacklist. In fact, it is also your key to achieving maximum email deliverability.
By fortnightly monitoring your domain and IP reputation, you will have better visibility into what is happening in your email campaign stream. This is especially most important if you’re using a shared IP pool.
4. Avoid a Drastic Increase In Your Mailing Volumes
While an email blast, also known as mass email, is an undisputed powerhouse of email campaigns, this practice may increase your spam complaints if you’re not careful.
Keep in mind that email service providers (ESPs) do not have the same tiers of service. They use different factors to determine if emails go to spam or the inbox.
As such, it would be best on your part to just gradually and steadily increase your mailing volumes or follow the appropriate email warmup process before you send mass emails. This is because irregular sending patterns can raise alarms to the ESPs.
5. Nail Your Subject Line and Content
An email that does not follow the CAN-SPAM ACT is more likely to be marked as spam. This is why you should avoid spammy words in your subject line and email copy.
Moreover, you have to remember that your subscribers will not necessarily open your email even if they are expecting to receive it. The main factor in determining whether your message gets opened or ignored will lie in your subject line.
So, you have to nail your subject line and the content itself. In the subject line, you have limited characters (often 50) to use. One of the best strategies that work for many businesses is to use personalization in their subject line because it has about a 26% higher open rate.
6. Utilize the Inverted Pyramid Design
Now, let’s focus on your call to action. Let’s say your subscribers did open your email. This does not guarantee, though, that they will be patient in reading your entire content. Many of them will still be skimming your email.
Meaning to say, you only have a few seconds of their time so better catch their attention well. That’s where the beauty of inverted pyramid design comes in.
It is a design style that will draw the attention of your readers from the headline or a large header image into the brief copy then down to the distinct call-to-action. Following this format in your email content makes it easy to scan and increases engagement too!
7. Contact Those Who Run the Blacklist
Another way to get your IP address removed and continue sending is by directly reaching out to those who run the blacklist themselves.
However, this step may take a while and you’ll soon see your account blocked without cleaning up your list ahead. Or you may do a spam rehab, wherein you work directly with these blacklist operators to prove to them that your email address is a trustworthy sender.
8. Keep a Close Eye on Email Campaign Stats
If you experience a sudden drop in your open rates, this means that something is up. Tracking your email campaign analytics closely will allow you to respond quickly in case of blacklisting or other deliverability issues.
9. Run Permission Pass Campaigns
When your email address gets blocklisted, the mailbox providers will usually pinpoint what campaign triggered it. The moment you know of this, you may run a permission pass campaign to finally get off from the email blocklist.
It is where you send a re-engagement email to the email list who have not interacted with your campaign for a long time.
As there’s a chance that some of these contacts are spam traps that triggered or caused your blocklisting, weeding out those accounts that do not engage in your permission pass campaign is a wise move.
Permission email marketing protects you from being labeled as spam, improves your customer service, increases your conversions (sales and clicks), and will increase your open rates.
10. Create Values Instead of Selling
Email is usually an entry point into digital marketing, especially for small businesses. If you are new to this form of marketing, you may be tempted to use sensational phrases, like “Limited time offer!” or “Buy now,” in your subject lines.
But be aware that what works for one brand may also appeal to your subscribers. As such, it would be a mistake on your part to write a pushy sales copy.
Instead, what you should do is to write subject lines and content that is relevant to your readers. It should tell rather than sell. Gimmicky catchphrases and pushy sales copy may annoy your subscribers and get your campaign caught in a spam trap.
11. Have a Responsive Email Design
Your emails may be designed to be viewed on a computer alone. But chances are, some of your customers will be reading their emails through their mobile phones. So, it is best to design your email campaigns to look different on phones and computers.
12. Do Nothing
You may not agree with us on this, but for some blacklists, there’s really no need for you to do anything especially if you know that you’re observing the best practices in email marketing.
This is because after some time, about two weeks or so, your email address will just automatically drop off from their list and give you the second chance.
However, once the admin who runs the blacklist notices that you make the same mistake again, your IP address or domain will appear on the same list again. During that time, you may not be easily “forgiven” as it was the first time.
Stay Off the Blacklists
That brings us to the end of our guide. When you find out that your dedicated IP address or domain is on an email blacklist, don’t carry out steps right away to get off the blacklist. What you need to prioritize instead is to understand why this happened.
Was this because of a new email strategy? Were you emailing a new group of contacts? Did you recently make changes to your email content? Knowing the reasons will allow you to quickly remove your domain from an email blacklist without going through all the steps we’ve mentioned.
Not only that. You can also take action to avoid this from happening again in the future. Remember, prevention is always better than cure.
Want to take the guesswork out and get off the email blacklists? Feel free to get in touch with our team to know how our email deliverability tool can help your emails make it to the inbox and prevent your IP from being blacklisted once and for all.
We’d be happy to talk to you.