The Spamhaus Project


How do you ensure email deliverability?

There is no shortcut to successful email deliverability. This series offers guidance to marketing and deliverability teams providing best practices to ensure email deliverability.

by The Spamhaus TeamFebruary 15, 20223 minutes reading time

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There is no shortcut to successful email deliverability. No matter what services you see advertised in the marketplace, offering that “special deliverability elixir’… don’t be scammed. In a nutshell, you need to consistently send correctly authenticated, carefully targeted emails to an engaged audience.

Meticulously adhering to email best practices will lead to excellent IP address and domain reputation, and consequently, excellent email reputation. Consider this to be your ultimate goal. Marketers should repeat this as a mantra:

“Excellent reputation is key to successful email delivery.”

What is email reputation?

The definition of reputation is “The general opinion or judgment of the public about a person or thing.” In email, reputation is a shorthand way of saying, “how recipients reacted to mail you’ve sent in the past predicts how they will react to mail you send in the future.” Good reputation means that recipients like your mail. Many email filters use “reputation” as one piece of their decision-making process.

Top 8 ways to improve your email reputation

  1. Authentication and encryption – this includes ensuring your emails have Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) correctly set up. These protocols help receivers “trust” your emails.
  2. Engagement – Ensuring recipients want the email you send them.
  3. Not doing what spammers do – sounds obvious, but make sure that you’re not setting up or sending bulk email in the way a spammer would send it.
  4. Address acquisition and data hygiene – use confirmed opt-in and keep those mailing lists clean. DON’T PURCHASE EMAIL LISTS – consent is not transferable.
  5. Frequency and predictability – find the sweet spot for how often you send email, set the expectation for frequency, stick to it, and ensure those receiving your emails engage with the content.
  6. Complaint management – monitor email campaigns carefully, make it exceptionally easy for recipients to opt out, and honor unsubscribe requests immediately.
  7. Spamtraps – hitting a spamtrap is a sign of poor data hygiene or issues with your marketing sign-up process. Put your efforts into fixing the data collection, retention, and hygiene problem, and not into trying to locate the spamtrap.
  8. Bounce handling – careful management of hard and soft bounces helps improve your email reputation.

We’ll be taking a deep dive into each of these areas through this guide, arming you with the knowledge to pave your way to successful email delivery, starting off with a look at how email reputation works.