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How can I lower my Sender Reputation Data (SRD) rates?

Sender Reputation Data (SRD) is a unique email feedback system operated by Microsoft. The goal of the SRD program is to derive a better picture of a sender's reputation by using feedback from trusted voters, rather than using complaint rates, which can sometimes be misleading. To get feedback, Microsoft re-sends your email that you sent to their panel of SRD voters (who are also your subscribers) within the previous 24 hours and asks them to vote on if the email is spam. Voting an email as spam is considered negative Sender Reputation Data (SRD) feedback.

Negative Sender Reputation Data (SRD) feedback represents subscribers’ dissatisfaction with elements of your email program. Unless the associated practices driving the negative feedback are addressed, there will be a detrimental impact to your sender reputation, inbox placement rates, and overall email program performance.

The best way to lower SRD rates is similar to lowering subscriber complaints.  We recommend that you focus on the following five areas:

Have a clear subscription process

  • State the benefits of subscribing: Ensure new subscribers are aware of all the benefits of your email program so they are more likely to engage.
  • Make signing up easy: Keep the signup process as simple as possible with minimal steps. Long sign up forms and processes may cause some subscribers to skip over details, and they may not fully understand what email they will receive as a result.
  • Only ask for relevant data: Some subscribers may not understand the implications of providing demographic or personal information such as gender, birthday and interests. You may want to request additional, relevant information from the subscribers during a welcome series of emails so they can choose to provide it and understand the implications to the types of email they will receive.
  • Ask permission from everyone: Ask for consent from all customers and subscribers about receiving email. Don’t assume a customer wants marketing email after making a purchase. Allow all customers and new subscribers the choice of selecting what email they want to receive and when to receive it through the use of a preference center.

Ensure expectations regarding email frequency and content are properly set at time of signup

  • Inform subscribers about the email content and frequency: At the very least, include a brief summary at the point of signup that explains what email they will receive and when they can expect to receive it (e.g. daily, twice per week, every Tuesday, weekly or monthly).
    • If you have multiple email streams and send frequencies, it is best to use a preference center. A general summary may not adequately describe the content the subscriber will receive and you risk having some of your email perceived as spam.
  • Offer a preference center: A well designed preference center gives subscribers the option to select the content and frequency of email they will receive. Content received that was chosen by a subscriber is less likely to be perceived as spam.
  • Send a welcome message: Immediately send a welcome message to all new subscribers (or at most within 24 hours). Reinforce expectations about the email they will receive and the frequency they will receive it. Summarize the benefits of signing up to help increase the likelihood the subscriber will engage.
  • Implement an onboarding strategy: Consider sending email to new subscribers from a separate IP space and only add subscribers to your list file once you have confirmed they are engaging with your email program.

Send relevant, targeted, and valuable email content

  • Ensure emails add value: Ensure that subscribers receive email that provides information considered to be important, relevant and useful to a subscriber depending on your business.
  • Design emails using a mix of text and images: Most email clients disable images by default, so include a mix of text and images that a subscriber can understand and recognize with images off.
  • Make emails actionable and interactive: Ensure the content and design of your emails include prominent calls-to-action to encourage engagement.
  • Use a recognizable friendly-from address: Make your emails easily recognizable by including your company or brand name in the friendly-from address. Subscribers are less likely to perceive your email as spam if they recognize you.
  • Create relevant subject lines: Ensure the subject lines of all emails are relevant to the content being sent.
  • Use consistent branding: Brand all emails in similar design elements as your website and overall company image. Successful branding increases recognition and reduces the likelihood subscribers will perceive your email as spam.
  • Personalize emails to encourage engagement: Include first and last names based on the type of communication being sent. First names are generally less formal, but it may be appropriate to include a last name or use a title (e.g. Mr., Mrs., Ms.) depending on your business. Provide content relevant to that customer based on what email they selected to receive, prior purchases and other data.
  • Segment your subscribers: Better target subscribers with relevant content based on attributes such as purchase history and other demographic data relevant to your business.
  • Implement a testing program: It may take some trial and error to get the right segments in place for your business and sending the right mix of content. Testing helps you determine what works best with your subscribers.

Allow subscribers to easily update their preferences so they only receive the emails they want to receive

  • Promote your preference center: In the welcome message series or in subsequent emails, promote the preference center to allow subscribers to fine tune their email choices to their personal liking. Include a link to update preferences in the footer of every email.
  • Allow subscribers to choose email frequency: Allow subscribers to change the frequency that fits their preferences (e.g. daily, weekly, and monthly).
  • Unsubscribe process: Immediately unsubscribe subscribers from all future emails using a one-click unsubscribe option (with the exception of specific transactional messages or legal notifications required by law). Allow subscribers to unsubscribe from all email streams and brands with a global unsubscribe option. 
    • Use the List-unsubscribe mailto: option to make it easier for Microsoft subscribers to unsubscribe instead of complain. 

Have a good list hygiene process in place to ensure you are sending to only active, engaged subscribers

  • Non-responder identification: Constantly monitor for subscribers that stop engaging with your email program, including all new subscribers and customers. Identifying non-responders allows you to either try and get them back to engaging or adding them to a suppression list.
  • Winback: Send non-responders a series of 2-3 win-back messages and suppress them from all future emails unless they respond.
  • Reduce frequency: Analyze your data to determine at what point subscribers start to complain or stop opening email. Reduce the frequency of email to less engaged subscribers at that time so they are less likely to perceive your email as spam. You might also want to send a winback message at that time to encourage them to re-engage.
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