Blacklisting: Sounds scary, right? It is. This blog is about what it means to get blacklisted, and how to take proactive steps to avoid it happening to you.

Blacklisting is the result of your company getting registered as being a known source of spam.

It can happen innocently enough.

Recently, one of our clients came up against a problem with their email marketing that caused them to get blacklisted by their marketing automation platform. This client sent out an email to a portion of the approximately 7,000 emails they had legitimately accrued over years of business. But somehow, one of these emails was detected as being either spam or a spam trap (which is an email address used to expose illegitimate senders), and our client received an email from their automation marking platform telling them their IP address had been flagged as an disreputable source, and that they could no longer use the email service.

More on spam traps

In an attempt to stem the tide of spam (which comprises 80 to 90% of all emails transmitted on the Internet), marketing automation platforms use filters that look for an invalid email addresses. But, as was the case here, if the same things these filters look for are found in your email list, you will get blacklisted, and your email marketing will be paralyzed.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to specifically determine exactly which email lands you on a blacklist. The problem is, since they look like legitimate email addresses, you aren’t able to easily figure out which email address is the culprit. It could be anything from a mistyped email to a purposefully planted spam address. To make matters worse, communication from the automation marketing platform screeches to a stop, so you’re left further in the dark. Whether you are the spam villain or victim plays no role.

Our aforementioned client must now start its email list from scratch and jump through the hoops of getting itself off the blacklist, which could cost valuable months.

How to prevent this from happening to you

There are proactive steps you can (and should!) take to ensure you aren’t sending out spam traps.

1)      List scrubbing:  Enlist an email verification program (like annually to make sure that your lists are clean. StrikeIron uses email verification and email hygiene—an algorithmic and evidence-based approach—to locate email domains involved with spam networks, traps, and other malicious threats.

2)      Proactive filtering: Ensure that new emails coming onto your list have gone through an opt-in process. Your pitch will need to be compelling enough to get users to want to opt-in, so offer vital information and education to your prospects. Although this takes more effort on your part in the initial stage, if you can produce the content your clients want, you’ll be rewarded with an email list of quality prospects.

3)      Know where your leads come from. Do not, we repeat, do not buy your lists!

The adage "A stitch in time, saves nine" applies well to this scenario. If you take away one message from this blog, it should be to take proactive steps to keep your email lists safe if you want to continue to use email marketing.

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