Blacklisting: When your emails break rules and affect an ISP’s customers in such a way that they have to ban your emails.
You’ve heard of the infamous Hollywood Blacklist? (If not, look it up.) Well, there’s another kind of Blacklist you need to look out for.
Story time: I was working at a direct marketing company for about six months. In addition to shoddy management, questionable work practices, and an essentially broken marketing system, there was a glaring issue in email. One morning, the deliverability dropped to 64%. In case you don’t understand if that’s bad or not, because “Hey, it’s more than half. right?” Would you be okay with a 64% in a class in high school? That’s a solid D, but hey, at least it’s not an F.
There were a number of factors that played into this. We’ll get more into it another time but there was a clear issue with how customers were being acquired and an issue with how the rest of the company was run.
Side-note: A marketing team is not the be-all-end-all. What I mean is, you can only do so much to get customers to buy, keep buying, get in the door, whatever. At the end of the day, Operations, Sales, Accounting, and Customer Service need to be working to get to your same exact goal. If they aren’t, then everyone needs to be kept in check.
Anyway, that was my little rant, but it played into my issue. When customers who didn’t necessarily opt in (We were culling them from previous sales) also could not get proper help from customer service or even access the website properly, everyone got hit.
Customer service got numerous complaints and even more than that, we got hit with Spam complaints. All this to say, our domain was blacklisted. There are more factors than merely Spam complaints.
Here are the ways you can get Blacklisted from Google, Yahoo, Outlook, all of that…
Spam complaints. We talked about that. People either forgot they opted into your newsletter (or you weren’t clear but we’ll talk about that another time), or you added them to your list without their consent so they’ll mark you as Spam. Enough of these and you. Are. Outta here.
Unengagement. If your email list is 500,000 strong, good for you. But if only 6% are opening, that’s not good and there’s no reason to keep a lot of these people around. If an ISP looks at your emails and notices a vast majority of everyone getting them isn’t opening them, they will determine that you are not a valid domain to get emails from and after enough of this tomfoolery, you will get blacklisted. First, you’ll get greylisted, but we’ll discuss that another time.
Bad emails. This is why you need double opt-in! If any Joe Schmoe can type in their email and you don’t have a double opt-in enabled for them to confirm their subscription, guess what? Could be wrong. In fact, most people are not great at typing. Then you’ll have invalid emails on your list that bounce back to you courtesy of the evil Mailer Daemon. Next thing you know, Gmail is gonna “Hey, this domain keeps trying to email people with bad emails, they must be bad themselves or don’t know what they’re doing, let’s keep them away.” And boom, blacklist.
There you have it. You wanted to know what blacklisting was and now you know.