A high Sender Reputation Data (SRD) rate can have a detrimental impact to your inbox placement rates, sender reputation, and overall email program performance at Microsoft. Negative SRD feedback represents subscribers’ dissatisfaction with elements of your email program. This means you must address the associated practices driving the negative feedback in order to lower your SRD rate.
Before you get started
With any suggested changes to your email program, be sure to analyze the potential impact to your business.
- Look for feasible changes as listed below that your team can implement quickly to decrease SRD junk votes in the short term.
- Consider implementing the suggested long-term solutions to ensure SRD complaints consistently stay low to help improve your chances of reaching the inbox at Microsoft.
Keep reading for both short and long term recommendations that could help lower your SRD rate.
For additional information to help you implement the recommendations below, please access Return Path's latest research, guides, infographics, and webinars.
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Short-term recommendations to lower the SRD rate
Try these recommendations first as they are usually more easily implemented and require fewer resources or major changes to your email program.
- Friendly-from address
- Use your brand name in the friendly-from address. A leading reason why SRD voters mark an email as junk is when they don’t recognize you as the sender.
- Subject Line
- Create relevant subject lines. Ensure your subject lines have no spelling errors, don’t use RE:, don’t use ALL CAPS, and don’t use excessive special characters, emojis or calls-to-action (You must sign up right now!).
- Use a combination of text and HTML. Using only text or no text in your email messages may lead to an SRD voter marking your email as junk.
- Create and use pre-headers that complement the subject line, grab the reader’s attention and entices them to open and interact with your email.
- Have clear and visible branding, including logos, so that subscribers can easily recognize your email with images disabled.
- Ensure branding is consistent with other digital channels to help increase recognition.
- Ensure all content has a consistent look and feel for all email streams. Using different colors, fonts, voice, tone, and logos for some emails could create brand distrust, which could cause an SRD voter to mark your email as junk.
- Too little or too much email sent to subscribers is a leading reason for SRD voters to mark your email as junk.
- Review how frequently you send email, especially after sign-up. If you wait too long or send infrequently, your subscribers may forget about signing up for your email program.
- Balance your sending frequency to ensure subscribers are not receiving too much email. It can cause list fatigue, which is when a subscriber is tired of seeing more messages in their inbox than what they were expecting, leading the subscriber to mark the email as junk.
- Ask subscribers for their consent prior to increasing frequency. This can be accomplished with a permission email or a pop-up message when they log into their account.
- Send less email to people who are unresponsive. Stop sending to subscribers if they remain unresponsive after a period of time.
- Immediately honor all unsubscribe requests. The longer you wait to honor an unsubscribe request increases the likelihood that future messages are marked as junk. If you can’t immediately honor an unsubscribe request, strive to honor all requests within 24 hours.
- Use the list-unsubscribe header and include a prominent unsubscribe link in all emails. If someone can't unsubscribe easily, then future messages are likely to be marked as junk.
- Allow subscribers to globally unsubscribe from all email streams if you direct them to a preference center.
- Check your unsubscribe rate or number of unsubscribes against your complaint rate from Microsoft’s Junk Mail Reporting Program (JMRP). A low number of unsubscribes and a high complaint rate implies that your unsubscribe process needs improvement or may be broken.
- Duplicate email addresses
- Ensure your email list file does not contain any duplicate email addresses. You may be sending a higher frequency of emails if a specific address is listed in your database more than once.
- Triggered messages business rules
- Review the business rules for your triggered messages. If you send a lot of triggered or transactional email, be sure the rules you have in place make sense for your current business operations.
- Be sure you are sending transactional and triggered email to your Return Path account to track performance. Low performing messages may indicate a problem with your business rules and could be a source for a higher SRD rate.
- Ensure all subscribers are aware about receiving transactional or triggered messages, especially when related to a product purchase or renewal. Set expectations when completing a purchase or during the sign-up process.
- Set clear expectations
- Prominently disclose to potential subscribers the content and frequency of email that they are signing up to receive. This is especially important if you use any form of pre-selected opt-in methods, which are often used during a product purchase. When the subscriber clearly understands the content and frequency of email they will receive from you, they will be less likely to mark it as junk.
Medium to long-term recommendations to lower SRD rates
If you don’t have success lowering SRD rates using the short-term recommendations, try implementing the recommendations below. It may take more time and effort to implement these recommendations within your organization. And, you may not see an immediate reduction in your SRD rate.
- Welcome series
- Send a welcome series to new subscribers that reinforce the value of your email program. A welcome series also helps remind the subscriber about the content and frequency of email they will receive.
- Non-responder strategy
- Test a more aggressive policy to suppress unresponsive subscribers.
- Implement a win-back or re-permission program to encourage non-responders to re-engage with your email program. Stop sending email to anyone that does not re-engage or opt-in.
- Targeting and segmentation
- Send more targeted, relevant email to different subscriber segments.
- Use prior purchase history, demographics, recency, location, acquisition source or other personalization data points to help customize the content.
- Implement a testing program to determine what content and frequency resonates best with your subscribers.
- Send to different segments on different days and monitor your SRD rate. Some segments may contain a larger number of SRD voters. If a segment contains a larger number of SRD voters that also mark your email as junk, then you can adjust your suppression rules for that segment to help reduce junk votes.
- Keep in mind that Microsoft is constantly adding or removing SRD voters to their spam fighters program which may impact you. It is possible that special suppression rules you have in place for different segments will only work temporarily.
- Customer surveys
- Send a simple email questionnaire to your subscribers about a recent campaign you sent. Ask if they were expecting to receive the email by offering them a yes and no button and track the results.
- Send a survey with additional questions regarding receiving unexpected email and ask what content they would like to see in the future.
- Address acquisition sources
- Identify and segment high-risk or problematic address acquisition sources. Sources of email addresses that are acquired through a list purchase, involve incentives for signing up, contests, business cards, and co-registrations can lead SRD voters to mark your email as junk because the opt-in process may be unclear.
- Track the performance of all high-risk list sources and compare that to the performance of your opt-in addresses.
- Consider sending email to high-risk list source addresses from a separate IP address if there is poor performance.
- Consider the business implications of changing your consent methods and look for opportunities to enhance your email program’s opt-in process.
- A lack of consent is a main driver for SRD voters to mark your email as junk, so you need to ensure you properly disclose how you’re using a subscriber's email address near the point of collection. This can help improve engagement and reduce the likelihood an SRD voter marks your email as junk.
- Do not use pre-selected checkboxes for marketing email at the point of collection. This is commonly done during an account set-up process or when purchasing a product. Be mindful of any potential business implications when implementing this option. Review any potential impact to revenue and consider other alternatives if revenue is at risk.
- Add a preference center during the opt-in process that allows subscribers to choose the content and frequency of email they will receive. This option can also be promoted during or after a welcome series of emails so subscribers don’t immediately unsubscribe.