How to get removed from email blacklists

Email marketing campaigns have an extremely high ROI, but only if the carefully crafted messages reach their destination. One of the reasons why your emails may never end up in the recipient’s mailbox is that you are blacklisted.

While many issues could keep an email from reaching its destination, such as a typo or a full inbox, they can be fixed easily. However, being blacklisted by an email service provider (ESP) is a serious problem. To get off an email blacklist you’d need to go through a complicated process.

Not all marketers can prove the legitimacy of their IP address or domain name to the list creators, thus staying on the blacklist forever. That’s why it’s essential to monitor your email campaign to avoid being blacklisted in the first place.

What is an Email Blacklist?

An email blacklist is a list of IP addresses and domain names that are identified as malicious for sending spam. Organizations, mailbox providers, and internet service providers (ISP) take advantage of these lists to prevent spam messages from reaching their users’ mailboxes.

A lot of blacklists do currently exist and are being used. It’s possible to be listed on one or several of them if you send spam messages or emails that systems recognize as spam regularly. With over 300 billion emails sent daily, the number of spam messages is huge.

To protect users from dealing with unwanted messages, companies create spam filters and blacklists. A large ISP may create their own list of unwanted domains and IP addresses while taking advantage of other lists simultaneously.

The definition of spam can be different for different organizations. For some people, a spam email is something harmful because it may contain malware. For others, spam is simply unwanted content from obtrusive marketers.

An internet service provider has spam filters that check if your email may be considered spam. If the message doesn’t pass the test, it can end up in the spam folder and your IP or domain will be added to the blacklist. Your email may be viewed as spam if:

  •         It has too many capital letters in the subject line
  •         It isn’t compliant with the CAN-SPAM act
  •         It contains a spam trap in the recipient list (spam traps are easy to get if you buy an email list instead of creating it organically)
  •         Your emails have a low engagement rate (they are rarely opened and often sent to the spam folder)
  •         It has a misleading subject line
  •         There is no “unsubscribe” option
  •         And much more

Besides your messages going to spam regularly, other reasons your email could end up blacklisted are:

  •         Your account was hacked – in this case, spammers can use it to send spam emails without you ever finding out about it. You could notice the issue much later when your email storage space fills up due to a large number of sent messages.
  •         Dirty email list – if you are using a list of email addresses, which you’ve purchased from an unknown party, you are likely to have a couple of spam traps in it. Additionally, it may have outdated and unused addresses that affect your sender’s reputation negatively.
  •         Too many emails – if you usually send only several emails a week and then suddenly begin sending hundreds or thousands per day, an internet service provider may decide to ban your address until you explain these actions.

Whatever the reason for ending up on blacklists is, you need to get your email addresses, domains and IPs unblocked as quickly as possible.


How to Check If You’re On an Email Blacklist

IP blacklist removal is on the agenda of any company, which is struggling to clear their email reputation. Checking if you are on email blacklists is an integral part of a successful email marketing campaign.

Online Checking Tools

One way to check if mailbox providers or ISPs blacklisted your email is to use online email blacklist checkers like MxToolbox. However, you should remember that hundreds of blacklists may exist. Such free online tools only have access to some of them.

Email Metrics

Another way is to check your bounce or open rate. Remember, you won’t get any notifications about your IP addresses being blacklisted. So a smart way to go is to monitor your email sending metrics.

If you see a sudden change in the bounce or open rate, it could mean your IP addresses are blacklisted. You should also pay attention to your sender score. If emails don’t reach their destination, it could go down.

Test Emails

Send a series of test emails to a list of valid email addresses to see how many of them reach their destination.

Another way to check if your IP is blacklisted is to use email monitors. These tools monitor your email activity and provide valuable information for your email marketing campaign. They also check your email addresses and IP addresses against available blacklists. 


How to Get Off an Email Blacklist

If you are listed on an email blacklist, you need to get removed from them as quickly as possible. The longer your IP address stays on the blacklist, the more problems you will have with your marketing campaigns and email service providers.

IP addresses get blacklisted for many reasons. The first thing you need to do is find out why it happened. Was it a dirty email list with spam traps? Did a hacker take over your email address? Did you send spammy emails? You may need to find a specialist to figure out what triggered the blacklisting process.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one simple action that can get you removed from all the blacklists at once. Each blacklist comes with its own protocol for removing an IP address.

Usually, you have three options:

1. Show Good Behavior

To get off the majority of blacklists, you have to work with blacklist operators to show them that you exhibit trustworthy behavior. Doing this involves following top-notch email sending practices for a certain period.

After the period is up, the operator may find your behavior satisfactory and remove your IP address from a blacklist.

2. Submit a Form

You can submit a form on the blacklist’s website to get your IP address removed from the list. You should try to be patient about the removal process, which for some companies may take weeks.

When you are contacting the list administrator, make sure to ask for the reason for the blacklisting. This can help you avoid the same mistake in the future.

3. Do Nothing

For some blacklists, you don’t need to do anything to stop being blocked. After some time (sometimes as little as two weeks), your address will drop off the blacklist automatically, giving you a second chance. However, if you make a mistake and appear on the same blacklist again, you may not be “forgiven” as easily.

Another way to get off a blacklist is to run a permission pass campaign.


How to Stay Off an Email Blacklist

It’s much easier to stay off an email blacklist than to get off. That’s why it’s vital to implement good emailing practices, including:

  •         Never buy email address lists. They can be filled with spam traps and invalid addresses.
  •         Validate your email lists regularly.
  •         Check email campaign metrics regularly to catch unexpected fluctuations.
  •         Check your email storage space to make sure hackers aren’t using your address.
  •         Follow the CAN-SPAM act.
  •         Make sure your content is relevant.

These practices won’t just keep you off the unwanted lists but improve your email marketing efforts and ROI as well.


Final Thoughts

Removing your IP address from a blacklist can be complicated. Some lists may take months to reply to your removal request. While it’s possible to get your address off the list eventually, it’s much easier to take preventive measures.

By following best email sending practices and keeping your email list clean, you can avoid the unfortunate blacklist-related hassles.

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