Sending highly personalized, value-packed emails to your customer base using data-driven marketing is one of the best ways to reach them at the right time, increase engagement, and create customers for life. However, it won’t matter how well-crafted your emails are if they aren’t landing in your customers’ inboxes. That’s why looking under the surface and understanding the process of email deliverability is so important.

Email deliverability is a complex topic, but in short, it is how you ensure your emails are accepted by the internet service provider (ISP) and placed in the receiver’s inbox, as opposed to promotions, spam, or not being delivered at all.

How do ISPs work?

There are expected to be around 333 billion emails sent globally per day in 2022, and on average more than half of that traffic is spam. The essential function of an ISP is to put a stop to as much spam as possible. Based on several factors, an ISP will work to identify whether your emails are trustworthy.

In the eyes of an ISP, your emails may be triggered as spam for a few reasons related to the history of your mailing list:

  • No one is opening or clicking through on your emails
  • You have a high amount of unsubscribes, blocks, or reports
  • Your emails are regularly being bounced, indicating you may have a “dirty” mailing list or have suddenly hiked up your sending volume
  • You’ve sent emails into a “spam trap”, which is an unmanned email address owned by an ISP

The first two points don’t typically have much of a negative effect on your sender reputation. Low open and click rates often indicate your content needs work and unsubscribes happen when customer preferences change. However, if you are being blocked or marked as spam often, you can land on the bad side of an ISP.

How to avoid a negative sender reputation

In order to send messages that matter to your customers, you need to first ensure you’re making it to their inboxes. If your emails are being bounced or you are falling into ISP spam traps, a good way to avoid doing so is through email validation.

At Ascent360, we use a third-party data hygiene engine that allows the user to compare their list against known spam traps as well as identify bad email addresses that cause deliverability issues. Once we receive the returned file, we mark bad emails as such and add them to the suppression list to prevent sending or deliverability issues in the future. Some of those “bad” emails include:

  • EMPS suppression (commercial do not contact list)
  • Role accounts (
  • Invalid accounts (non-existing emails)
  • Bad domains (
  • Bad top-level domains (@hot.mail)
  • Bogus accounts (
  • FCC wireless (
  • Frequent complainers (showing up on multiple do not contact lists)
  • Disposable accounts (

Another way to improve your sender reputation is through DNS records, which can be thought of like a driver’s license or passport. These “documents” demonstrate that you are who you say you are and allow you to travel to different places. DNS records tell ISPs the email you are sending is coming from you and can be trusted. Each email provider has its own setup for DNS records — some will set them up on your behalf and others will require implementation from your IT team.

If you find you are repeatedly being marked as spam, it may be too difficult for your customers to unsubscribe, so they block or mark you as spam instead. Be sure to make it as easy as possible for customers to navigate your emails and unsubscribe if they want to.

Why it matters

The technicality of data security and email deliverability is just as important as knowing what messages to send to which customers and when. Data-driven marketing gives you the platform to understand your customers’ unique needs, engage them in a personalized way, and keep increasing sales. But without a good sender reputation, your dynamic customer segments and beautifully crafted email templates aren’t likely to see the light of day.

The Ascent360 platform combines the technicality with the data-driven process, ensuring you maintain your privacy, reduce spam encounters, increase deliverability, and boost your reputation score!


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