Topic: E-Marketing

Repairing Email Deliverability And Reputation

Posted by becky.hatala on 250 Points
I'm looking for best practices but also how I can keep our email marketing moving without further damaging our email deliverability/sender reputation. At the moment I am in over my head a little with the technical variables determining our deliverability.

I have good click-through rates but the open rate declined from 25% steadily to 4.6% on the last email within a month and a half and I am not sending a ton of emails. However, we are using new contacts from ZoomInfo, and so we've had some hard bounces and unsubscribes. The issue is, I don't have enough "engaged" contacts to slowly prime IP, without the risk of losing those contacts with over engagement (150ish, with deliverability rates of 4% leaves me with no data to work with).

I did connect DNS settings between Bluehost and Hubspot for email sender domain.

1. If my open rate is 4% - and bounces are 15 out of 2,000 - do I assume the majority received my email and not open it or it didn't reach their inbox?

2. "Hard bounced (Spam)

Rejected by recipient's email security filter

SPAM 550 Rejected by header based manually Blocked Senders: - [I4bjfemBPxSIC2uhOHLNkg.us553]
If this is a mistake please have the recipient's IT team make an exception by allowing listing"

- Does this mean I am on blacklists or is this different than blacklists? Should I pay any mind to it for correcting it or remove them from the list?

4. Is there a free tool to test for hard bounces in bulk before uploading my contacts to Hubspot from ZoomInfo?

My questions above hopefully demonstrate where my knowledge base is - and I appreciate being redirected to factors that matter more if one can surmise anything else based on this. There are so many resources out there but I am having trouble finding resources about the more technical troubleshooting after the damage has been done.

I know this is a lot, so if you have a video or any learning resources you think I should check out that really get into these things I would appreciate any help.

Basically, we tried to go for expansion and growth without doing it carefully and now I am not sure how to back to peddle, and still press forward without more damage.

Thank you
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  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    If you're seeing some hard bounces, then you need to immediately focus on your deliverability issues. Check your server logs to see what other blocks you're encountering. It could be that whole email provider domains have your IP blocked. Also, you haven't mentioned if you're using a dedicated or shared IP for your email sending. If it's shared, that could dramatically hurt deliverability. If it's dedicated, and your list has (doubly) opted in, then you have a case to make with the email providers to get your domain whitelisted (at least temporarily).

    An open rate of 4% only tells you that 4% of the people opened your email. You don't know about the other 96% - did they ignore it or did they not even get it delivered?

    Since you're using HubSpot, you might reach out to their email deliverability team ( to gain some actionable insights about your recent campaigns.
  • Posted by becky.hatala on Author
    Thank you for your response!

    I ran an email through mail-tester and it honestly doesn't say much needs improvement.
    1. I need a DMARC record
    2. Something I don't understand is it said "-0.249 HEADER_FROM_DIFFERENT_DOMAINS From and EnvelopeFrom 2nd level mail domains are different"
    Otherwise, it says everything is good but it mentioned my server IP and not my domain IP health/score. So like, on, when it says enter IP address to get score - do I enter my Server IP address or my domain IP address?

    Am I penalized for over-testing any metrics on reputation health/IP health, etc?

    It didn't say I was on blacklists on mail-tester but I ran other tests previously with my domain that indicated I was on a few out of a very long list, so I don't think I'm blocked from core email providers. Any company that protects its servers from cold email however could be not delivering.

    We are can-spam compliant but not with an "opt-in", only "opt-out". I think that's STILL the dealbreaker though - I am wondering if my own ESP (Hubspot) is giving me the low deliverability because of that, or if other ESPs are? We wouldn't have email campaigns at this point in time if it were opt-in only, they don't even email existing clients so I cant prime my reputation with that... We are a value-added IT provider and before me, they hadn't had a marketer in their 40 years of business so we are starting from the ground up in a world where email is our most competitive channel, as we can't much compete with the big CDW and Insight Globals of the industry via SEO, Ads, social media (they have 200 plus marketers).

    So that said I need to be able to email cold, in a smart and respectable non-spam way. Maybe HubSpot is too strict of an ESP for us to go through. It's unfortunate that some (as in real spammers and those who don't clean their email lists) ruined email marketing for the busy all-in-one marketers trying to help small businesses reach new clients.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    It sounds like the problem isn't you email itself, but in its delivery. DMARC is definitely helpful for deliverability. For, try both your domain IP and your sender's IP. Don't worry about over testing - so long as you're not re-sending emails to your list. Ask HubSpot for information about your campaign's deliverability. And if they can't/won't help you, you may need to find another vendor who can. And since you're a value-added IT provider, you likely have people in-house who can wade through your data to make better technology choices going forward.

    As an aside, why aren't you working to grow your business through existing clients, rather than sending cold emails to strangers who don't know/trust you?

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