August 4, 2015

How Do Subscribers Get on My Email Blacklist?

Reading time about 5 min
What is an email blacklist

Email blacklists help to ensure that you’re not sending messages to contacts who don’t want your emails or email addresses that no longer exist. This helps improve email deliverability and ensures better email engagement.

The word blacklist carries some really negative and scary connotations, like it should be a locked leather book filled with the names of pirates, smugglers, and outlaws. However, your Sendinblue blacklist is actually a good thing! Let me explain…

When you create an email campaign for a list of your subscribers, some of those emails can’t get to the people they’re intended for and others get there and aren’t well received. Instead of letting you try to send emails to these people over and over, Sendinblue automatically adds these folks to your email blacklist.

So basically, your blacklist doesn’t mean that you or anyone else did anything wrong – it’s simply a list of people that you shouldn’t email in the future. Let’s dive into the details.

About Automatic Blacklisting

Some email software platforms don’t create a blacklist for you automatically. Instead, they require that you manually exclude names from future email campaigns, which obviously takes a lot more time to manage. So how does Sendinblue know who should be added to your email blacklist? It’s not magic! (Although it sure can seem like it.) These are the criteria we use:

Messages Marked as Spam

Think of your email campaigns as ancient explorers going to the foreign lands of email inboxes. You send your explorer out to a particular location, but when she gets there, she is driven out of town by angry townspeople brandishing sharp sticks and torches. The message should be pretty easy to understand – you don’t belong here, go away and never come back! This is basically what happens when someone marks your email as spam. Not only is the recipient indicating that he or she doesn’t want to receive your emails in the future, but he or she is also implying that the email shouldn’t have ever been sent there in the first place. These people are placed on your blacklist to help you avoid future anger and wrath (and sharp sticks).

Recipients Who Unsubscribe

email blacklist

Using the same example above, if your explorer got to town and the townspeople simply informed him politely that there was nothing for him to do there and sent him on his way with a canteen of nice old water, that would be the equivalent of an email unsubscribe. When someone unsubscribes to an email they are indicating that their preferences or desires have changed and they no longer wish to receive communications from your company. In some cases these people can be saved by having the unsubscribe link send them to a page that allows them to choose to change their preferences so that they receive emails less frequently or unsubscribe entirely. Once they unsubscribe from emails, they are added to your email blacklist so that you won’t bother them in the future.

Hard Bounces and Invalid Addresses

In the case of a hard bounce, your explorer follows his compass and gets to the coordinates you sent him to only discover that it’s in the middle of the ocean. There’s no land to conquer and no one to trade with so he’s confused and turns back towards home. Emails that result in a hard bounce were trying to go to an email address that’s no longer valid. This may be due to a typo when the email was submitted or an incorrect transcription if the email address was written by hand. Alternatively the email address may just no longer be in use. Closed email accounts will also result in hard bounces, which is why it’s important not to use old email lists. As a general rule of thumb, if your email list is old enough to vote in the next election, it’s time to update it! Generally personal email addresses will stay in use for a long time, but business email addresses change frequently as people change roles and jobs.

How This Affects Email Deliverability

As we mentioned above, having a blacklist is essential if you want the best possible email deliverability. This is because sending emails that bounce or aren’t well-received can hurt your deliverability over time.

Deliverability is the key to the success for your email marketing and our team at Sendinblue wants to do everything possible to help your email campaigns succeed. Obviously, we’re not wizards – no email software provider can guarantee that emails will be delivered because each sender ultimately has to take responsibility for their own deliverability. Deliverability can be affected by the following factors:

Recipient Complaints

When an email recipient marks an email as spam it counts against the sender’s reputation. Senders with high rates of spam often end up with low delivery rates because email platforms lose trust in that sender and are more likely to filter out messages from them. (Spam also contains a lot of sodium, but that’s a different topic for a different day!)

Sender Reputation

There’s more to an email sender’s reputation than just the number of recent recipient complaints. A sender’s domain name and IP address also have historical reputations to consider. This means that a domain name that’s changed hands a bunch over the years or an IP address that’s been abused in the past may have a negative reputation that can come back to haunt a current sender. This is why you want your domain name and IP address to be squeaky clean!

Bounced Emails

A high rate of email bounces can indicate that a sender has purchased an email list, is using an outdated list, or is phishing for email addresses. Email providers want to keep recipients safe from companies that use these kinds of tactics because they usually accompany other nefarious behavior. For this reason, senders that have too many emails bounce back to them, like out of control rubber balls, will have their deliverability limited.

Email Routing and Electronic Authentication

Setting up your emails so that they are properly authenticated is another important step to take to maximize deliverability. For more information on authentication and validation, visit our helpful article on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.

Keep in mind that while Sendinblue automatically moves email addresses to a blacklist for you, any email lists kept offline or stored in other applications will not be automatically updated with this information. This is why it’s important to update these other databases with the information from your Sendinblue list periodically. To see which contacts have been added to your blacklist, visit our helpful blacklist resource.

Happy Sending!

Ready to find your marketing zen?

Take the stress out of your work day with a solution that’s built for you!

Get started free