What does it mean to get blacklisted?
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.
~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.
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.