Email Blacklist: Meaning, Reasons and How to Avoid Being a Part of It
Where we have good, we have bad too! Where there is white, there is black too! This runs true in the online marketing world also where email marketing is considered the king and has two sides to it, the Inbox or the spam!
So, ever faced a situation in which your email open rate went extremely down or a major portion of all your emails were landing up in spam? That’s exactly what blacklisting is all about.
Many times an e-mailer lands up in a situation where they have not done anything incorrect but on checking the status of their IP address they discover they have been blacklisted! Having the IP or domain added to a blacklist can seriously affect a sender’s reputation and ultimately the email deliverability.
Furthermore, once added to a blacklist, it's not a simple case to be expelled. It's essential to comprehend for what reason you're on a blacklist and fix the root cause of the listing so your domain or IP addresses don't end up on the blacklist once again.
Let’s get into details about what exactly is an EMAIL BLACKLIST!
What is Email Blacklist ?
Email Blacklists are live databases that decide which email will be flagged as spam.
Each blacklist serves as a filter that decides whether you will reach your intended recipient’s inbox or end up trapped in the junk folder. Thus email listing is also commonly known as ‘Spam Trapping’
How do email blacklist servers decide if an email should be marked as spam?
An Email blacklist stores explicit data about IP locations and Domain addresses that are marked suspicious and known for sending spam.
To understand this better, let’s have a look at the two email blacklist categories:
IP-based blacklists - An IP-based blocklist is a real-time collection of sending IPs that send spam or other types of email abuse.
Domain-based blacklists - A domain blocklist (DBL) is a real-time collection of sending domains that have sent spam or other types of email abuse.
Now when an email is sent, Email Service Providers (ESPs), Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and Anti-spam agencies (ASAs) refer to this list to detect and block any spam emails entering their network.
Email blacklist list is not a single centralized list on the internet. However, many anti-spam organizations are maintaining their independent DNSBL list. Some of these lists are free to use while few require commercial licenses.
Types of Email Blacklists:
Based on their accessibility email blacklists are divided into three types:
• Public Blacklist – These lists are accessible to the public and can be checked by anybody from anywhere.
• Private Blacklist- These lists are set up inside by significant ISPs to find spam utilizing internal measures and criteria. Private Blacklists are generally utilized by major ESPs such as Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL.
• Spam firewalls – These lists are a system of firewalls and blacklists which are utilized by enterprises to secure their internal servers. Common examples are McAfee.
For the most part, these email blacklisting servers do an excellent job at filtering out spam emails. However, the ways in which they decide what’s spam and what’s not can sometimes get well-intended email marketers marked as spam as well.
Why is getting your email blacklisted bad?
Imagine putting in all your time and efforts into a great email campaign but your intended audiences never see your amazing marketing campaigns. Painful right?
This is what happens When you get flagged. Your emails never make it to their desired inboxes. Instead, your domain or IP address gets added to the blacklist stopping your emails from reaching their destinations.
Getting blacklisted, severely impacts your email deliverability rate and the effectiveness of your email marketing ROI.
How does email blacklisting affect email deliverability?
All ESPs follow some protection protocols against various spam complaints on their platforms. The easiest way to do this is to block your email address when it shows up on an outstanding blacklist. Hence, it drastically increases the number of bounces and reduces your email deliverability score.
When your ESP chooses to hinder your mailing efforts, it tends to be troublesome and tedious to get unblocked. Depending on the case, it might even be simpler to set up a new account to speed things up. Be that as it may, this is never recommended.
Being blocked by your ESP also adversely influences your sender’s reputation. It is hard to expand upon a damaged sender reputation which is the reason it is best practice to abstain from being put on blacklists when you can.
You may ask yourself, yet for what reason do I get blacklisted?
Reasons why you ended up on Email Blacklists?
To be honest, anyone can have their email addresses blacklisted. With the number of spam increasing every day, mail servers had to find a way to combat those. And this is how they do it.
Now, if you’re wondering: “Why is my email blacklisted by Gmail/Yahoo/Outlook?” then it can be due to the following reasons:
Poor email list hygiene: Your email list hygiene plays a major role in keeping you away from spam traps. If you don't routinely clean your email lists from inactive or duplicate email addresses, you might be incidentally setting off the spam police. Having repetitive bounces can show up on a blacklist.
Too many spam complaints: Email providers often blacklist email addresses that send spam or emails that are immediately deleted without even being opened. Sending emails to recipients who have not opted in usually results in high complaint rates, and it is also illegal in many countries to send emails without their consent.
Too many outbound emails: If you normally send out 1000 emails in a week and suddenly send out 10,000 emails in a day, this will set off an alert that demonstrates potential spam movement. It is very likely that your service provider will suspect that you're up to no good, blocking your email address from sending any further emails.
Virus/ Malware: Your PC might be tainted with an infection or malware. You may not know about this but rather it will influence your active mail and will make you show up on spam blacklists.
Email Spoofing: Creating a message with a fake sender address is pretty easy. Hackers might make it appear that the messages are coming from you causing harm to your reputation. This will make you look suspicious and get flagged as spam.
Hacked account: Hacking is the most common reason for legitimate email users to be blacklisted. Spammers use hacked accounts to send spam messages. Often, the account owners are only aware of the lack of available storage space after the number of email messages sent reaches zero.
Is my email blacklisted?
Keeping an on the KPIs of your email campaigns will help you figure this out.
3 common indicators that tell if your email has been blacklisted are:
More emails getting dropped: When your recipient reports your email as spam or unsubscribes from your newsletter.
Falling deliverability rate: When you fail to reach the recipients’ inboxes, you will notice deteriorating email deliverability.
High email bounce rate: When your messages can’t be delivered to the email addresses on your list and end up being bounced back to you.
However, these are not enough to confirm you are blacklisted or not. In case, you see a drastic fall in email deliverability, it’s better to check for your domain or IP address on the email blacklists.
How to check if you are on the email blacklist?
If you’re facing any of the above signs and worried that your email address has made its way onto the dark side, then your best bet is to signup for blacklist checker tools. These tools help you look up your name in the email blacklist servers.
Some of the most common email blacklisting databases to look for your IP or domain name in are:
Barracuda Reputation Block List
You can use tools such as MXToolbox’s Blacklist Check, Spamhaus IP Blocklist Checker, Barracuda IP Blacklist/Blocklist Checker tool, and so on…
Delisting: How to remove yourself from Email Blacklists?
Once you have fixed the issues on your end, go to the blacklist site and follow their IP address removal instructions. There are blacklists with a self-removal service and time-based removal service.
Self-Removal: It lets you take your IP address off the blacklist without much trouble but one thing you need to remember is that if the address gets listed again, it won’t be easy to get it removed the next time.
Time-Based Removal: It is a built-in, automatic process that removes lower-level listings (IP addresses that are light offenders) within a week or two. But if the IP address had sent spam more than once or did a high volume, the time period would be longer.
One needs to follow the rules and cooperate with the instructions and terms & conditions provided. Honesty and open statements play an important role in resolving the blacklist issues. If not, and the blacklisting is troublesome for you, consider contacting the list maintainer by phone and try to resolve the issue that way.
How to keep yourself off Email Blacklists?
Prevention is better than cure. Once you get yourself on the email blacklist it can take time to recover from there. Hence, it is best to practice good email habits to keep away from the blacklist territory.
Here are 6 ways that will help you stay off the email blacklists:
1. Avoid purchasing lists:
Purchased lists are loaded up with various unpalatable things, much like a nutty delight. We're talking about invalid addresses, immaculate spam traps scratched from some sites, and old addresses that may now be spam traps.
Also, recipients on these lists have not opted to receive your email messages, which thus will create higher complaint rates. High complaint rates feed into various blacklists that track user spam and abuse complaints, so it's ideal to avoid any bought list.
Rather than buying such lists, focus on building a quality list on your own. Use Clearout email finder to find the email addresses of your prospects and reach out to them with higher chances of conversion.
2. Provide an option to unsubscribe:
It is very important to give your subscribers a clear option to unsubscribe from your emails.
In case they do not wish to receive your emails anymore it’s better to let them unsubscribe rather than marking you as spam which will cause far more damage to your business. Also, providing an unsubscribe option improves customer experience and enhances your brand’s image.
3. Maintain email hygiene:
Maintaining a clean email list is very important to keep yourself off email blacklists.
Always use email validation tools to check the legitimacy of your email list and update them regularly. Subscribers who haven’t engaged with you for at least six months should get re-engagement emails. And if they remain unresponsive, you can add them to your list of potential spam traps.
Also, check for invalid, inactive, and temporary email addresses to avoid spam traps and invalid contacts contaminating your list.
4. Optimize your email content:
Personalize your emails to the greatest extent feasible and avoid sending generic emails. This will highly reduce spam complaints.
If you provide valuable content to your subscribers, they will not mark your email as spam. So, keep away from being too promotional or spam trigger words and focus on providing quality content to your readers.
5. Use double opt-in:
This is a two-step verification process. The user needs to confirm that they signed up for receiving emails from you, i.e they need to confirm their subscription.
This method ensures that all of your subscribers are real individuals who want to receive your emails- new offerings, promotional offers, or newsletters.
Thus, the double opt-in method highly reduces complaints about email spamming and also lowers the number of opt-outs.
6. Secure your server:
Put proper security measures in place. Make sure to use IP checking tools that can protect your server from malware or bots. You don’t want to be the victim of an email hijacking.
Failure to do so can get you blacklisted no matter how strictly you follow the best email marketing practices.
You can use an IP email blacklist lookup tool to determine if anyone else is using your IP address. If the results say it is being used by another server, it means your network server was hacked.
Stop wondering “Is my email blacklisted?” and start incorporating the right practices to stay away from spam traps. Use an email automation tool, like Clearout to ensure your lists stay clean, and your emails make it to the inbox.