Holiday Email Marketing: How to Stay Off Santa's Email Blacklist



Countless articles have been published over the past few years attempting to answer the question, “Is email still important?”

Well, according to HubSpot, “email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI, making it one of the most effective [marketing channels] available.” 

So yes, email is essential, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The pandemic forced many brands to shift much of their marketing focus to email to stay in touch with customers throughout lockdowns and periods of self-isolation. According to a study by Pathwire, ”a full 55.5% of respondents say they’ve emailed their customers more since the start of the pandemic.”

Not only is email still important, but clearly it is even more crucial now than ever. The uncertainty around the new Delta Variant indicates that retailers will likely experience another record high in eCommerce sales this holiday season. This means retailers must have robust holiday email campaigns planned for the 2021 season and beyond to maximize profits.   

But there are a few important things to consider when preparing to launch your holiday email campaigns. If you’re not following the appropriate steps to ensure you’re sending email the right way, your messages could quickly be flagged as spam emails. This not only harms your long-term sender reputation, but it could result in your IP ending up on an IP blocklist (formerly known as blacklists). Landing on a blocklist will effectively ban you from sending any emails, resulting in zero communication with your prospects and customers. Not great for revenue or customer experience if your audience doesn’t receive promos, shipping or tracking info, or even inventory updates.


But aren’t blocklists for spammers?

According to Spamlaws, “nearly 85% of all emails are spam,” and according to Radicati Group, “email spam costs businesses a whopping $20.5 billion every year.” 

So while blocklists are deeply necessary to maintain a controllable email structure, it’s not a perfect science. Even if you are sending to your own customers or folks who have opted-in to your communications, you can find yourself on a blocklist. Let me explain...


What is a blocklist?

One of the primary purposes of email blacklists is to prevent emails from being sent to inboxes that have not opted-in to receive an email with explicit and informed consent. While no single preventative measure will guarantee zero IP blacklistings, if you are doing everything in your power to send an email that people want — it will make the process of getting delisted that much easier.

Many blacklists use networks of spam trap email addresses to identify IP addresses and domains that send unwanted commercial emails. Spam traps are email addresses that the operator believes should not be receiving emails from marketers or any other source for that matter. 

The tricky part many marketers get caught with is when previously valid, opted-in email addresses go dormant and are eventually repurposed as spam traps to target brands that don’t practice regular list hygiene and remove hard bounced addresses.


How do email blacklists work? 

Anytime you send an email, an IP address is attached to it that specifies to the server where the email came from. When the ISP receives the email, the IP address is automatically checked against an email blacklist/DNS blacklist. If that IP address is on the list, the email will be rejected. If it is not on the list, it is then checked against more spam filters before reaching its final destination: the inbox. 

IP addresses are labeled based on their history of sending good or bad emails. So, continuing to send unwanted emails sends a bad signal to the blacklist databases.


Types of email blacklists

  • Public Blacklists: As stated, these are publicly available that you can check without paying. You can perform an email blacklist check by using a tool like MX Toolbox.
  • Private/ISP Blacklists: These are maintained by ISPs, like Yahoo and Gmail, who have their own internal blacklist monitoring systems. 
  • Enterprise SPAM Firewalls: These are used by corporate IT departments. 


5 Reasons you could be getting blacklisted

  • Too many complaints: Complaints are a common issue that most brands have, but if you start to collect more, it triggers the ISP and could potentially land you on blocked lists.
  • Sending too many emails at once: If ISPs notice a sudden increase in email traffic from your IP, it can signify that it is spam content. Brands with a good email marketing strategy tend to build their list slowly and send less emails to start and ramp up as they go. 
  • Hacked emails: Hackers take control of your account and send spam on behalf of you. 
  • Suspicious email content: There is much discussion in the email community around “trigger words” that spam filters look for, but much of it is still up for debate. One thing that many email experts can agree on is to stay away from using too many special characters (𝔩𝔦𝓴𝔢 𝔱𝔥𝔦𝔰) and to always send from a verified domain. 
  • Haven’t cleaned your email list: Customer data grows stale over time, causing bounces, complaints, and even greylisting, resulting in a poor sender reputation and potential blacklisting. Because spam traps deliver, open, click and develop every day, it is essential to protect your email marketing resources with an email hygiene service. 

What should I do if I’ve been blacklisted? 

Believe it or not, it happens to both good and bad senders. So if you’re a good sender, don’t panic. There are a lot of blacklists in the world and the chances of your IP being on one of them are high. 

For the most part, this won’t cause issues with reaching your customers because smaller blacklists are less likely to be used by big ISPs, and you will be able to get your IP address off of it quickly. 

However, if you are on a blacklist, it does mean that something could be going wrong with your email marketing. If caught on a larger list that ISPs use, it will have a larger impact on your email delivery and could harm your business permanently. 


How to avoid getting blacklisted with email hygiene

The Webbula Email Hygiene service offers an industry-leading, bundled approach to verification and hygiene to safeguard your brand reputation and email channel. While it is important to validate if an email is deliverable through verification, it is even more important to recognize and identify dangerous threats to avoid being blacklisted. That is where our Email Hygiene can help.

Webbula’s Email Hygiene is the most transparent and comprehensive solution available. Because Webbula has an exclusive relationship with the world’s largest honeypot purveyor, we are able to detect more spam traps than other vendors. 

You should also be protecting your online web forms with real-time verification from malicious sign-ups before they enter your CRM/Database. 



If your brand leverages email marketing, the best way to reduce your risk of ending up on a blacklist is to discuss your options with Webbula. Blacklists do not live to make our lives miserable; they are a necessity designed to protect consumers. And our job is to protect your consumers and your brand. Here at Webbula, we take pride in making sure your email never lands you on a blacklist.


Sign up for a free email hygiene test now. 

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