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What does it mean to get blacklisted?

Email blacklisting is the compilation of domains and IP addresses that are filtered out of all incoming email.

~ GuavaBox


What does getting blacklisted really mean?

It means that your email is not going to arrive to the person's inbox because where it is coming from has been sending emails to bad email addresses.


How does this happen?

In a nutshell, an email was sent to an email address that belongs to a SPAM trap. SPAM traps own email addresses that are not active, they do not sign up for anything and should not receive any emails. If those email addresses receive emails then it triggers the SPAM trap and the IP address gets dinged. The world of SPAM is very secretive. How the SPAM traps get these email addresses is not completely clear. Some are taken from email addresses that have not been active for X amount of time (The time is unknown) and some are created by the SPAM traps. These email addresses could be a gmail, yahoo, hotmail, aol, or a company email address. The email address is supposed to look like a regular email address so they can not be excluded from sends. The goal of these SPAM traps is to find the people sending SPAM and prevent them from doing it.


Why are you getting blacklisted?

1) The email you sent to was from a purchased list - Never purchase lists. It is much better to send less emails to people who have opted-in than to send no emails at all. If you think quantity trumps quality then it's time to wake up and realize that thinking is a thing of the past. DO. NOT. BUY. EMAIL. ADDRESSES.

"it’s generally a poor practice and it may be detrimental to your deliverability rates and sender reputation"

~Mike Madden, Demand Generation Program Manager at Marketo


2) You have an old list - You have a list of people who may have opted-in in the past or a list of old clients. It is always important to make sure the list you are sending to is as fresh as possible. If the list has been sitting there for 6 months or longer and not been sent to it might be better to run a reengagement campaign and wait on the marketing/sales send.


3) Fake Email Addresses - Whenever someone fills out a form to get a piece of content it is important to remember that just because they enter an email address doesn't mean it is their email address. People can enter fake email addresses just to get through the gate and get the content.


Here's What You Can Do About It:

1) DO NOT PURCHASE LISTS - This seems pretty straight forward. Stop it.


2) Refresh The Database - This tactic should be done even if you don't get blacklisted. By refresh the database I mean make sure that the email addresses you are sending to are active. An active email address is an email address that is opening, clicking, or engaging in some way with your emails. This is why it is important to have a reengagement campaign. This campaign can be as simple as offering a coupon or a piece of content that would be attractive to the recipient. The goal of this email is to have the recipient engage with the email and prove they still want your emails/content. How often do you send this campaign? This all depends on what your data says. In some instances 6 months without an open or click is ideal. In other cases 12 months might be the right answer. It would be worth it to look at your data and see when the engagement drop off is happening. Once you see when it is happening set up a campaign to trigger off to those records.

"The key that holds all of this together is having identity data that’s correct, complete, and current—data that’s authoritative."

~Joe Ariganello


3) Work With Your Email Tool - This one may not apply to everyone but if you use an email service provider (ESP) or a marketing automation tool (MAT) then work with them. You are paying that company to use their tool and if an IP address that they are sending emails from is blacklisted it looks bad on them as well as you. A MAT and ESP's goal is to send successful campaigns and if their IP addresses are marked as blacklisted it will affect them negatively. Don't be afraid to reach out they will most likely help and if they don't start looking for a new one.


4) DO NOT PURCHASE LISTS - Not sure if I mentioned this yet. Stop it.


5) Send Confirmation Emails - If you have forms that are collecting email addresses then this should be part of the flow. This helps prevent people from entering fake email addresses. When someone submits a form include a thank you message on the page and let them know the content they requested will be sent to the email address entered. This will confirm the email address they gave you is real and it could possibly get a tracking cookie onto their browser (If that applies to you).


6) Always Know Where The Email Addresses Came From - This one seems simple but can be challenging. If you ever get blacklisted the first question you will be asked will be "Where did the list you sent to come from?" If you can go back and see where the email addresses came from you stand a better chance of finding the bad email address. If you can not verify where the email addresses came from (Maybe refer back to solutions #1 and #4) then you may have to send a re-opt in email to everyone on the list. This will show the SPAM trap(s) that you are trying to keep a clean database and not spamming people.


There are more reasons why you could get blacklisted and more ways to fix/avoid it, I just wanted to point our a few good ones. The only true way to avoid getting blacklisted is keeping good lists and not buying lists.

As technology becomes more advanced, and the skills needed to run, operate and fine tune our software platforms become more specialized, we are finding a stretching chasm of lacking professionals with the experience and talent needed to implement and show ROI on marketing automation investments.


There are a few problems I see in the market:


1. Undercutting the value of our skills with cheap contracts

2. Lack of flexibility in full time employment

3. Knowledge gap of decision makers in the value of training


These three factors play a huge role in the market of Automation specialist and should be considered when making a decision on what is the right choice for you or your company. I could right a book on this topic, but I will try to keep it short and sweet.


1. Cheap Contracts: You Get What You Paid For


In the last three months, I have had a plethora of short-term contracts fixing Marketo migrations, implementations, and template designs from under qualified professionals offering cheap solutions that undercut the value of true Marketo Certified Experts. For one major B2C company, a migration implementation has now lingered on almost 4 weeks in limbo because it was not initially setup correctly. A code pertinent to the tracking functionality of their system was deleted, and now the IT Engineers at Marketo are trying to recover it. It took me a little over 4 hours to figure it out. It took the contractor over 2 months to fully set it up wrong.


DON'T let this be you. It takes years of experience, practical practice, and niche specialization to become a great Marketo Certified Expert. If someone is willing to do the same job at half the cost you may be working with someone who doesnt know what they are doing, but thinks they have a good idea of how to do it. You may also end up paying TWO to THREE times more because of the hours of troubleshooting, and time cost to execute. PAY the up charge for a better more qualified Expert. It will cost you less, and the end product will be worth it. 2. Lack of Flexibility offered in full time employment.


I am going on year 2 of contract only.

The reason? It provides the flexibility, pay, and opportunity for career growth that often cannot be found in full time positions.


In the last year alone, I have worked for Fortune 50 companies to startups with a wide range of services from integrations to strategy. and have gained invaluable insight and skills from these projects. In this field, the best place to be is behind the scenes. The amount of work overflow from Consultant firms keeps many independent contractors busy and on their toes to keep ahead in the game for this field.


Then comes the workload. As an Automation Engineer, we are building algorithms, identifying trends, coding automation and building data machines to drive ROI. This stuff takes time, thought, and general tenacity for excellence. It also doesn't happen in an eight hour work day. We are the mix of an artist and a scientist. Most days I work more than 8 hours. Weekends usually find me typing away at a concept, idea or epiphany. Having a flexible work schedule allows us to work when we are at our best, rest when needed, and keep one hundred percent focused on the end goal of the project. When in an office, it can be extremely distracting, time is taken between driving, ,meetings, and office chatter when we really need to be hands on, focused, and relaxed to produce our best work. If you haven't considered remote, you may be missing out on some of the best employees in Marketing Automation.


3. Decision Makers just don't get it. So your upper management is bought in. They purchase Marketo, and expect results.


Sound Familiar?


Buying an instance without properly training, and investing in on-going training is like buying a build your own car kit with out a mechanic to put it together. Marketo is a technical and strategical tool that requires the knowledge learned only through experience to make it stellar. Since Marketo is not out of the box, it takes an engineer to put it together, a trainer to teach the driver, a designer to make it pretty, and an on-going maintenance schedule for both your instance and your Marketo Administrator. Marketo is always changing, and morphing into a bigger and better tool with expanded capabilities which means companies need to budget for keeping up with the changing technology and ever growing skills gap. Mainly, invest more in your instance and administrator training and it will directly affect your ROI. Your Marketo instance will never run like a race car if you don't invest in the components to make it high performing. Expecting results without the right setup and ongoing care is asking a box car to win the Indy 500, it's just not going to happen.