The factors that influence a Sender Score is based on key reputation metrics that are important to mailbox providers and your subscribers. With Return Path’s reputation tools, you’re able to see your IP’s performance against these specific metrics. When an IP’s performance changes so does its Sender Score, which means a Sender Score is not a static number and can vary based on the sender.
It is also important to note that you control your sending reputation, not mailbox providers or ESPs.
Keep reading to learn:
- Industry best practices that should be implemented to maintain a good Sender Score, which is relative to your email program.
- Troubleshooting information and additional resources specific to each key reputation metric that makes up a Sender Score.
Steps to improve a low Sender Score
Because you are familiar with your email program and reputation, you will most likely know when one of your IPs’ Sender Score is performing below its average. Use the steps below to troubleshoot why your Sender Score is low and to get more information about resolving issues you may discover.
When troubleshooting a low Sender Score, here are some guidelines to follow:
- Understand how Sender Score works. If you don't already understand how a Sender Scores, how it's calculated, and which metrics are the most heavily weighted, then you should review some of that information first. That will help you learn how the various metrics can affect your Sender Score and inform your different troubleshooting priorities and strategies.
- Log into your Return Path account to review your IPs' Sender Score history.
- Review a specific IP you'd like to improve throughout different date ranges to see which metric changes had the largest impact on its Sender Score. You can use the graph displayed and the metric details to see which specific metrics resulted in the most points lost from its score. Compare those metrics to the most heavily weighted ones that make up the score. This can help you prioritize which metrics need your attention the most if there are multiple ones that are performing poorly.
- Look up which campaigns you sent during the timeframe where your IP's Sender Score had the largest issues or fluctuations.
- Follow the guidelines below for each specific reputation metric that makes up a Sender Score. Use the information to work on your highest priority metric first.
- Complaints: If a high complaint rate caused your Sender Score to lost points, review your suppression strategy. You can also take a look at your overall subscriber base and sending frequency and volume.
There might be a correlation between a decline in your sending volume and an increase in complaints. Sharp increases in complaints can happen when sending volume drastically drops yet complaints continue to accumulate from past campaigns. If you find a discrepancy, try spreading out your email volume across multiple days to help balance your complaint rate. Learn more about troubleshooting complaints here.
- Spam Traps: Issues with spam traps indicate general list hygiene problems. Specifically, pristine spam traps may mean you need to review your list acquisition practices as you’re sending to email addresses that should never receive email.
And if your recycled spam trap rate is high, you may need to segment and clean your list. If you are sending to old or outdated lists, you risk increasing the probability of sending to recycled spam traps. Best practice is to scrub your list of subscribers who have not opened or engaged with your mail for long periods of time. Learn more about decreasing your chances of sending to spam traps here.
- Rejected Rate: Rejected means that your email is not being accepted by mailbox providers. This can happen for many different reasons such as high complaint rates, blocklistings, or authentication issues. If possible, you should review your deliverability metrics to see which mailbox providers are blocking you. From there, request the delivery logs or raw bounce sample from your ESP to see the error codes from the mailbox provider who is blocking you. Learn how to troubleshoot mailbox provider deliverability issue.
- Volume: When emailing your subscribers, make sure you are sending consistent volume off of all IPs. Sending inconsistent volume can be seen as spammy behavior to mailbox providers, additionally, it can lead to elevated complaint rates. Your level of sending volume also helps categorize you as either a high volume sender or a low volume sender. This categorization allows Sender Score to compare you to senders with similar volume.
A common issue with volume can often occur during an IP warm-up. During this time, it is critical to steadily increase your sending volume in order to establish a good IP reputation. Learn more about IP warming.
- Unknown Users: If you have high unknown user rates, it is important to review how old your subscriber list is, or how far back you are sending to your subscriber file. Because unknown users are invalid email addresses, sending to them indicates to mailbox providers that you aren’t following list hygiene best practices. This can cause deliverability issues. Keeping a low unknown user rate and removing email addresses that return hard bounces can help maintain stable deliverability and reputation. Learn more best practices for avoiding a high unknown user rate.
- Infrastructure: infrastructure is the hardware and software used to deploy your emails or have your emails deployed on your behalf by an Email Service Provider (ESP). Infrastructure also includes authentication, bounce handling, complaint handling, Domain Name System (DNS), and IP addresses.
A properly configured infrastructure is an important part of a successful email program and improperly configured infrastructure is often associated with spammy behavior. If you are losing points for infrastructure, there’s a high probability it is due to an incorrectly implemented rDNS. Learn more here about rDNS.