Email reputation: Discover the spiral effect

In this article, you will learn about the spiral email reputation effect to understand the concept of why low engagement or high engagement can be the reason why you are landing in spam or main inbox and how to react to bring your traffic back into main into.

Understanding Email Sender Reputation

Firstly one of the main components of the email deliverability scores is the email sender’s reputation. It is a score assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your company. 

Generally, the higher the score, the more your email marketing will be delivered into the main inbox. If it goes below a certain grade, your email may land in the spam folders or even may be rejected by the Internet Service Provider.  

Several variables and factors can be considered when ISP decides to place your email into the main inbox or in the spam folder. 

An important factor could be your recipient’s engagement. Email engagement could be defined by the level of interaction from your recipients with your email. 

Basically, how many and how people will open your email once or multiple times, interact with it, click on your call to action, ….

It also includes activities that aren’t trackable (yet) from an email standpoint, such as time spent, heatmap, whether they’ve moved the message to a different folder of their mailbox, whether they forwarded it,…

What is email engagement?

Every interaction a contact has with your emails is an indicator of either positive or negative email engagement.


Like we see before, your mail engagement can be measured with some of those KPIs:

  • The email open rate

    Percentage of people who have been opened a specific email from a campaign.

  • The Email click-through rates (CTR)

    Number of people who have clicked on a specific link or image in the email out of the total emails sent.

  • How long your email will stay unopened in the inbox

  • The percentage of emails move from the spam or promotion folder to the main inbox

  • The number of time you email has been considering spam

  • Other variables apply as well

Engagement is seen from a spam filter standpoint as a metric of relevance for your content.

 In other words, low engagement means that you are not sending something that seems to interest your contact list. This will inevitably lead to spam complaints and your email being placed into spam more often as the spam filter’s job is to protect users from “irrelevant” or unsolicited emails.

However, the opposite also applies, an higher open rate will ensure a frequent main inbox placement due to your content being highly relevant from most of the measured sample of contact.

But why are we talking about email reputation spiral effects?

Well as you understand, spam filters will place your email into spam because of low engagement

But landing into spam will generate an even lower level of engagement.

By sending you to spam, the filter reduces the percentage of contact seeing your communication. 

This means that next time you will send an email campaign, you will even be more filtered into spam, generating lower open rates, making you land more into spam… you get it.

This highlights the importance of managing the engagement of your contact inventory depending on your reputation and deliverability situation. 

How to improve your email engagement?

To improve your placement, you must intentionally higher your engagement level by artificially reducing the volume and focusing on the openers of your infrastructure. 

Essentially, you must segment your subscribers’ lists and create targeted messages!

To prevent sending irrelevant content and decrease your email engagement, you should create some lists among your subscribers according to determined criteria. They may vary from an activity to another, but there are various ways to segment your clients and create messages that may increase your engagement:

  • Geographic segmentation,
  • Demographics segmentation,
  • Interests segmentation,
  • By their behavior,
  • By jobs positions,
  • Or segment with all kinds of information you may have from them.

Once your list will be segmented it will be easier to know to whom to send your next email communication to increase your reach. If your message speaks to your clients, it will surely receive more interactions and boost your email engagement rates and achieve better ROI.

You can read and learn more about how to segment your backend for optimal engagement & spam filtering in this article we wrote a few weeks ago The Era of Engagement Management

Finally, you have understood the concept of upward & downward spiral email reputation effects and how to prevent them, don’t forget to constantly re-evaluate your actions to maintain a high engagement rate. As your clients’ needs and interests can evolve and, your content and email campaigns must evolve along with them.

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