Trust is hard to define, but we know it when we see it or feel it. And this is particularly true with e-mail marketing. The truest measure of trust in commercial e-mail marketing may be the “reputation score” which is calculated by all the individual ISPs.

A reputation score is a complex algorithm used by the ISPs to calculate a score that reflects the sender’s deliverability. This reputation score can determine whether your e-mails will be delivered to the in-box, the bulk e-mail folder, or not delivered at all. The reputation score criteria can include the frequency or history of e-mail campaigns, bounce back percentages, opt-in abuse, spam complaints, sender authentication, accreditation services, and many others.

The major ISP spam filters care less and less about how your subject line reads or the words used. Instead they focus on the sender’s reputation. This applies to Hotmail, Gmail, EarthLink, Yahoo!, and AOL. I have read that subject line words may account for less than 80% of sender reputation score. And this applies to unsolicited e-mails and to e-mails from trusted senders which were opted-in.

Instead of hitting the unsubscribe key to opt out of a newsletter, as many as 20% of e-mail recipients hit the spam key. Why? It is an easy way to end the relationship. This finding is from a recent survey conducted by eMarketer in 2007. This means that companies and individuals are increasingly growing less tolerant of unwanted and irrelevant e-mails.

The key to maintaining a good reputation score may be tied to relevancy. The goal is to be a trusted sender, which is to be the author of an email that recipients choose to open more than once. If your e-mail provides valuable or desirable information to the recipient you will be considered relevant.

If not, you are just spam.


John Bradley Jackson

Top Dog

The BirdDog Group

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