Protect Your Brand and Reputation

Today's guest post comes from deliverability consultant extraordinaire, my friend Josie Garcia. Take it away, Josie!

Did you know that senders are in control of many more reputation and vulnerability factors than ESPs?

Your ESP is in control of things like setting up an abuse address, authenticating your sending domain, and infrastructure. As a marketer, you are in control of much more than that.

Let’s focus on List Quality…

Are your email addresses deliverable? In my experience, 95% of deliverability pain is caused by poor list quality.

Here are 5 tips to keep your lists healthy:
  1. Do not purchase or rent lists.
    You will see VERY low ROI from sending to purchased or rented lists.
    Recipients may not recognize your brand or remember signing up to receive email from
    “partners or subsidiaries” at some website.
  2. Do not auto-subscribe your audience to emails and require them to “opt-out” in order to not receive them.
  3. Do not offer your employees quotas or incentives to collect email addresses.
    This encourages fake/junk addresses ( to get on your lists.
  4. If you are offering a free product trial download, go over the list of email addresses with a fine tooth comb checking for ISP domain typos and syntactical errors prior to sending a campaign.
  5. Monitor bounce logs for these types of errors:
    4.4.1 (no answer from host)
    4.4.4 (unable to route: dns lookup failure)
While some of those errors could be temporary, I frequently find the domains in question to be expired, parked, or for sale.

If you love geeking out on bounce logs as much as I do, go the extra step to vet bounce log information by performing MX and website lookups and you will be able to see for yourself the status of the bounced domain.

Web sign-up forms are also vulnerable to attack. If you notice a spike in sign-ups in a very short timeframe, a good rule of thumb is to check the IP address used. Chances are, if you see junky addresses rapidly signing up, your website may be vulnerable to attack.

Here are 3 ways to reduce vulnerability:
  1. Build back-end website functionality to reject randomly generated addresses.
  2. Partner with a validation vendor who offers web form protection.
  3. If sign-ups look questionable, but you still want to email them, send a confirmation email with a clickable link.
Protecting your brand and reputation from emerging attacks and vulnerabilities is totally under your control, so do all you can to keep them intact.
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