How to avoid an email domain blacklist and remove your ip from one

byGuido Croce

At hubsell, I advise customers to avoid spammy outreach behaviour to not get yourself into an email domain blacklist. There are several ways to minimize the chances of getting into that position. For example, sending messages at a human level pace.

Unfortunately, there are salespeople that do not know of all the guidelines. So, in this post, I want to share with you what is an email domain blacklist and its different types. Also, you may be asking yourself, is my ip blacklisted. So, I will explain what can cause your domain to get blacklisted and what to do in that case.

Before I start breaking down each topic, here is the list of them for reference:

What is a blacklist and its effect on inboxing

Different types of blacklists and examples

  • IP address-based
  • domain-based

What causes a domain to get into a blacklist

  • spam complaints
  • bad lists or addresses
  • identical emails with no personalisation
  • spam sending rates and volumes

How to avoid getting into a blacklist

What to do if you are in a blacklist

Conclusion


What is a blacklist and its effect on inboxing

A blacklist identifies and records domains or IP addresses that have been sending spam, as per the standards of the blacklist’s owner. Internet service providers (ISPs) and mailboxes use them to protect their users from spam. They are quite useful since 85% of daily emails are spam.

Here is the process whenever you send an email:

  1. you send your email as a Sender to the Receiver
  2. the email is received by an ISP who analyses it
  3. the ISP checks if your domain is in the blacklist that they are using
  4. the spam filters of the ISP evaluate your email
  5. if your email passes the tests, then it is inboxed

In conclusion, your email can be rejected if it does not comply with the ISP’s policies and/or if your domain is in the blacklist in use. The outcome of the analysis determines if your email will be inboxed or sent to the spam folder.

Now that I have clarified the definition of a blacklist and how it affects inboxing, let’s explore the different types of blacklists and a few examples.


Different types of blacklists and examples

There are two types of blacklists:

  • IP address blacklists
  • domain blacklists

IP address blacklists

There are two main types of IP blacklists: Real-time Black Lists (RBL) and Domain Name Server Black Lists (DNSBL). They update their databases in real-time. ISPs and mailbox providers can use those blacklists to see if the sender is flagged as a spammer in that list. The common blacklists of the RBL/DNSBLs type include:

  • SpamCop (SCBL)
  • Psbl.surriel.com
  • Ubl.unsubscore.com
  • InvaluementP
  • Return Path Reputation Network Blacklist (RNBL)
  • Sbl.spamhaus.org (SBL)
  • Xbl.spamhaus.org (XBL)
  • Cbl.abuseat.org (CBL)

Domain blacklists

The domain blacklists, such as URI Real-time Blacklists (URI DNSBL), are lists of spam domain names that can appear within the email body. Email providers can use the blacklist to analyse and check for spam domains in the main message. The most commonly used URI DNSBLs include:

  • Dbl.spamhaus.org
  • URIBL
  • SURBL

Let’s now examine the reasons for what causes a domain to get into a blacklist.


What causes a domain to get into a blacklist

There are many ways that your domain can end up on a blacklist, but it often has to do with email. Here are a few causes of a domain getting blacklisted:

1. Receiving spam complaints

If the recipients of your email flag it as spam, then the mail providers will think that it is true and it is not of value to the prospect. Even if your list is clean and opted in, a click on the ‘mark as spam’ button will count as a spam complaint. The more complaints you receive, the more likely it is for your IP or domain to be added to a blacklist.

2. Acquiring bad email lists

When your campaigns have a high bounce rate (above five percent) due to bad quality lists, the ISPs think that your list may not be opted-in or current. Also, if you send emails to spam bait addresses, then that will get you into a blacklist.

3. Sending identical emails

Whenever you send close to identical emails to lots of people, that also triggers the spam signals. Emails that are not personalised are categorised as spam with no valuable content for the recipient.

4. Abusing daily sending limits

Finally, companies that send a big amount of cold emails per day will raise the alarms for ISPs. Also, if the interval between those emails is non-existent or identical, then it will also be considered spam.

If you avoid making the above mistakes, then the chances of getting blacklisted will be close to zero. Let’s next examine how to avoid getting into a blacklist in the first place.


How to avoid getting into a blacklist

The ideal scenario is for your domain to not land on an email domain blacklist when doing cold outreach. Here are a few ideas to keep your domain out of blacklists:

1. Write email content that resonates

A prospect may open your cold email, but they need to gain value to reply to it. General, self-focused and salesy emails will receive spam complaints in the B2B world.

Instead, shift the focus to the problem-solution dynamic and how your product fits into it. The prospect should gain value from the email without having to buy or start a conversation with you. Additionally, you can personalise your email even more by using dynamic placeholders.

2. Watch your email campaign’s bounce rate

A quick way to get your domain in a blacklist is by having a high bounce rate. So, keep track of it and maintain it ideally under five percent. In your campaigns, remove the bounced addresses to avoid sending follow-ups to them.

3. Do not buy lists

Avoid buying email lists because they are usually infested by old and irrelevant emails or spam baits from blacklists. Those lists will lower your campaign’s conversions and prove to be more expensive in the long run.

Instead, opt for reliable on-demand quality data partners. They can provide GDPR adherent data that is verified and without bad email addresses.

4. Segment your lists

To ensure that your prospects are getting relevant email copy, separate them into different lists. That allows you to go one step further into email personalisation, which avoids spam complaints.

5. Adapt your sending volume and intervals

If you send too many emails per day at the same time, then you are likely to end up in a blacklist sooner or later. So, keep the number of sent emails below 100 per day per mailbox. And, send them with random intervals in between.

The general recommendation is to try to look as human as possible in your campaigns. It should seem that you are a person sending emails to friends and colleagues manually.

Now that you know how to avoid blacklists altogether, let’s examine what you can do if you find yourself in one.


What to do if you are in a blacklist

You may be asking yourself, is my ip blacklisted? To check if your domain is in a blacklist use a tool like MX Toolbox.

Blacklists are useful to protect people from harmful or non-relevant content. But they are not perfect. Even if you are in one, do not be alarmed because, usually, you are removed after some time and there are no effects afterwards.

If your domain is in a smaller blacklist, then it will probably not affect your cold outreach because few ISPs use it. In that case, you do not have to worry because your IP will be excluded sooner or later.

On the other hand, larger lists are commonly used by ISPs which can impact your inboxing rates. So, to remove your domain/IP address from those blacklists, you will need to contact its owner. The major blacklist companies have information on their sites on how you can remove yourself from their lists. Usually, the process is straightforward.

Finally, to avoid getting into other blacklists in the future, make sure to follow our guidelines from this post.


Conclusion

In this post, I discussed what blacklists are, how to avoid them, and how to get removed from one. Hopefully, you can take away something from these lessons to minimize your risk of getting into one. And remember, getting into a blacklist is not a big deal, you can remove yourself most of the time. Here are the main takeaways of this post:

What is a blacklist and its effect on inboxing

A blacklist identifies and files domains or IP addresses that have been sending spam, as per the standards of its owner.

You send your email as a Sender that is received by an ISP who analyses and concludes if your email is spam or not. If your email passes the test, then it is inboxed.

Different types of blacklists and examples

  • IP address-based
  • Domain-based

What causes a domain to get into a blacklist

  • spam complaints – too many people rejecting or unsubscribing from your emails; can be due to bad targeting or general emails
  • bad lists or addresses – a high bounce rate because of poorly sourced email prospects will put you in a blacklist if you are not careful
  • identical emails with no personalisation – similar emails will trigger the spam signals from the email providers which will send them to the spam folder
  • spam sending rates and volumes – sending too many emails per day without enough or varied interval between is how you get into a blacklist

How to avoid getting into a blacklist

  • write email content that resonates
  • watch your email campaign’s bounce rate
  • do not buy lists
  • segment your lists
  • adapt your sending volume and intervals

What to do if you are in a blacklist

Identify which blacklist you are in, visit the website of the owner and follow the procedures to get yourself removed. Be patient and hopefully you will be out soon.



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