In recent weeks, I’ve explained the Facebook algorithm and the Google Algorithm. But there is a third “algorithm” that every online marketer needs to understand how it works, and that is email marketing. In fact, anyone who has every purchased anything online or who has downloaded something for free (and thus subscribed to an email list), needs to understand how bulk emails work.

Unlike Social Media and Search, email is traffic that you own. Both Social Media and Search is traffic that is owned by someone else. But there is not a “dislike” button on Facebook or Google. With email, there is both an “unsubscribe” option, or worse yet, a “block sender” or “report as spam” option. These negative indicators can greatly affect your email deliverability rate and can really hurt your business.

Let’s start with something simple: just because you sent an email to someone, doesn’t mean that it is ever going to get delivered to them. And if it does get delivered, it may or may not end up in their in-box. And if it does happen to end up in their in-box, there is only about a 25% change they will open it. And if they do open it and read it, there is only a 3 to 4 percent chance they will actually click on it.  Even worse, metrics can be misleading – clicks do not necessarily equal engagement. – there is only a 1 to 2 percent chance they will actually take action on it. Pretty grim. And these figures are considered “good.”

All of this is controlled by what is known as your email reputation score.

Still, email is considered the most effective online marketing method there is – many times that of social media or search engines. As I mentioned earlier, this is due in part because it is traffic that you own, but as bad as the stats are, they are often better than what you see with other forms of traffic.

Yet most people get hundreds of emails each day. As an email recipient, its easy to get overwhelmed and never open or read an email.And from an email marketers perspective, if you get frustrated and click on “spam” you just created a huge black mark on that businesses email reputation score.

Using a range that starts at 0 and ends at 100, an email reputation score compiled from non-personal data of over 60 million inboxes from different ISPs, spam filtering, and security companies to create a picture of a sender’s email sending practices.You are looking to have an email reputation as close to 100 as possible.

This is an example of the stats that can affect your reputation. You need to keep an eye on all of these:

My email deliverability is pretty good, with a 99.44% delivery rate, and a 43% open rate. The “Clicked” rate is average. Email reputation can be affected by any of the following factors:

Negative Factors:

  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounces
  • Spam


  • Opens
  • Clicks

As a sender, how can you improve your email reputation score to insure that more of your email messages get delivered, get opened, then read, and acted upon?

Obviously, you want to prevent the negative factors as much as possible and increase the positive factors. This means keeping your list clean to prevent bounces, but someone unsubscribing from your list can actually be a positive, after all, you want actively engaged subscribers, and if that person no longer wants to receive your emails, it is better to not have them on your list that to never have them open or click on your content. I wrote an article about this a few years ago and it is still relevant: https://webstoresltd.com/please-unsubscribe-heres-why/

How to Destroy Your Competitors

It doesn’t take much to totally ruin someones email reputation score. All you have to do is create about 20 new email addresses. Just sign up for a variety of free email accounts at gmail, yahoo, etc like bob123@, fred5796@, and mary-j-smith81@. Then sign up for your competitors email list with all these addresses. After you have received at least one email from these accounts, delete about 25% of these accounts – this will cause a “hard bounce” the next time they send an email to this address. Now “unsubscribe” from another 25% of these, sending the negative “unsubscribed notice” to the email service. Finally, with the remaining 50%, mark them as “Spam.” This last one is the biggest blow of all. You can delete all of these phoney email accounts when done.

Like I said, it doesn’t take many people to destroy an email sender’s reputation.

When you report spam or move an email into Spam, Google receives a copy of the email and may analyze it to help protect users from spam and abuse. Your email service provider (gmail or anyone else), will block that sender from sending you any future emails. But, it will also flag that email as sending spam and put a big hit on the sender’s reputation score.

Here is how you can do this in Outlook. Unless you are really mad at a sender, I recommend that you NEVER do this as it affects the sender’s reputation score.

Here is the link in Gmail:

I’ve had subscribers who open more than 80% of my emails and send me personal responses, who have inadvertently clicked this link, when in fact they still want to be on my list. They just either accidentally pressed this, or simply didn’t want to see that one particular message, but had no idea that it would not only block all future communication from me, but impact others as well!

As you can see, this is super easy for someone to do, and there isn’t an “Are you sure?” button or an explanation of what will happen when you click on this link. It just flags the email as spam, sends an automated report to the service provider, and destroys the sender’s email reputation score. Ouch!

Worse, the lower a sender’s reputation score, the fewer emails that person sends out will ever get sent or delivered. It is a downward spiral. The fewer emails that are delivered, the fewer that the email service provider (like gmail) will show your emails to other subscribers!

As you can see, protecting your email reputation score is critical to email marketers!

You can check your score at: https://senderscore.org

This will return something like this:

You are looking to get as close to 100 as possible. If your score is less than 90, you have some serious work to do.

Now you know about the email “algorithm” (okay, it’s not really an algorithm in the same sense as Facebook and Google), but it is critical that you understand it if you are involved in email marketing (or are just a consumer receiving marketing emails).