Email Marketing

5 Things That Harm eCommerce Domain Reputation (+ 10 Ways To Recover It)

It's 2024 and losing out on a solid eCommerce domain reputation is a bad idea—read on to see what can harm yours and what you need to do to salvage it!

5 Things That Harm eCommerce Domain Reputation (+ 10 Ways To Recover It)

Emails have the highest ROI when it comes to eCommerce marketing

But what happens if your domain reputation has taken a hit?

In this piece, we discuss 5 ways that can potentially harm your eCommerce domain reputation and:

10 Ways to Recover a Bad eCommerce Domain Reputation

5 Reasons Why Your eCommerce Store's Domain Reputation Is Falling

When ISPs evaluate your domain reputation, they tend to look at several factors that either point at great domaIn health or its opposite. Here’s what we’ve seen consistently affect eCommerce domain reputation:

1. High unsubscribe rates

At any given time, your unsubscribe rate shows how many recipients unsubscribed against how many emails got delivered multiplied by 100. The interesting thing is once your unsubscribe rates rise, you will also begin to see deliverability issues. And both can cause long term damage to your domain reputation. 

2. Spam traps in email list

There are times eCommerce businesses buy whole email lists to fire their email strategy. But this is a wrong move as far as domain reputation is concerned. This is because many of these lists contain what are known as spam traps. 

Spam traps are email addresses ISPs and blocklists use to track down senders who’re not following email hygiene. The consequence often is that both your domain and IP will be sent to the ISP’s third-party blocklist. And once this happens, your overall email deliverability will suffer too. 

3. Spam trigger words in emails

If your emails carry words that are too good to be true, they’re more likely to be sent into the spam folder—and along with it, your domain reputation will tank too. 

To avoid this, mark words that are potentially considered spammy:

❌ Anything that builds on “free”—free perks, free membership, free gift, free trial

❌ Anything that builds on “extra”— extra rewards, extra benefits, extra samples

❌ “Act Now!”

❌ “Cheap”

❌ “100% satisfaction”

4. Problems with consistency and volume

Along with sending and delivering practices, ISPs also take a hard look at sender behavior to decide whether a brand deserves a good domain reputation or not. So, an instance where an eCommerce brand sending 2 emails a week scales up to 20 in a week, within a week’s time, is highly probable of earning a bad reputation. 

Similarly, if the volume differs considerably between weeks, ISPs take note and tend to blacklist. 

5. Sudden high email volume from new domain

Mailbox providers follow the logic of “warming up”, which means if you have a new domain, you will have to work your way up to having thousands of subscribers. And this in turn means that if you start sending thousands of emails right away, ISPs will be alerted and your eCommerce domain reputation may suffer as a result. 

10 Ways to Recover a Bad eCommerce Domain Reputation

1. Clean up your email list 

As part of improving your eCommerce domain reputation, pay attention to the following while cleaning up your email list:

✅ Remove duplicate addresses

✅ Remove invalid addresses because of which emails bounce

✅ Fish out email addresses that aren’t active anymore (bounces will be high on these)

✅ Consider sending a re-engagement campaign to subscribers (who once upon a time were very active)

✅ Take email preferences from new subscribers (so as not to overload them)

To grow your email list, read: 28 No-BS Ways To Get More Email Subscribers in eCommerce

2. Make it easy to unsubscribe 

Some eCommerce businesses make the mistake of not offering an unsubscribe option—and this can potentially backfire, when recipients mark their emails as “spam.”

Since you don’t want to be one of those, here’s how you can make unsubscribing easy:

✅ Feature an “unsubscribe” link across all your emails (and keep it as accessible microcopy)

✅ Send a “preference” email every six months to know if the recipient is receiving content they like

✅ Optimize your emails for mobile (which can in fact bring down unsubscribe rates, if recipients have been finding the mobile UX clunky)

3. Put efforts into content personalization

One of the most critical ways in which you can improve your domain reputation is to personalize your email content based on where the recipient is in their customer journey. 

This means you’ll have to:

✅ Use their purchase & browsing history to send recommendations

✅ Send email at critical junctures—to welcome, say thank you or even if they abandon cart

✅ Make sure you use their name in the email (and also send with a “person’s name”)

✅ Offer value add content that helps them use the products you’re selling 

✅ Make space for non-transactional emails that speak to their interests 

One eCommerce brand that’s known to closely segment and personalize their emails is Birchbox—check out how in the following example they’re rewarding the loyalists:

You might like reading: 20 email personalization templates (examples from great brands)

4. Track the most important email metrics 

This is one thorough way of figuring the why and what behind how your email recipients are behaving. Tracking the most important email metrics can also tell you how to tweak your email strategy. 

But which metrics should you look at—here are the 5 we’d recommend:

Conversion rate: This is the metric that helps you determine how many are actually going ahead, clicking and buying from those receiving your emails—if you have higher conversions, it means you’re sending more precise content, which in turn leads to a better domain reputation

Click to Open rate: This metric helps you assess the number of emails that aren’t just opened but also clicked once  versus the number that’s delivered—why it’s relevant for eCommerce domain reputation is because a greater number of emails opened mean better inbox placement, subject lines that aren’t spammy etc.

Clickthrough rate: As a metric, this helps eCommerce businesses evaluate emails that get at least one click as against the total number of emails sent—a good CTR also results in better domain reputation because such emails seem more trustworthy to recipients and they engage with these more

Open rate: You can derive the total number of emails opened against the total number of emails delivered to arrive at this metric—high open rates indicate good inbox placement, personalized content as well as good authentication

Unsubscribe rate: The number of people who unsubscribe against the total number of emails delivered is what this metric is about—a high unsubscribe rate would mean lesser trust in the brand, irregular volumes and content that resembles spam

5. Improve the way you authenticate

There are severals means to authenticate your emails for better eCommerce domain reputation, but the following are the most crucial—and using a combination of these can help you improve your domain reputation:

✔ Use SPF for your IP address: If you get an SPF record for email authentication, it informs ISPs that your IP address features amongst the addresses that can send emails on your behalf—the SPF record is attached to your Domain Name System (DNS) and features list of authorized IP addresses. 

✔ Use DKIM for your email messages: When it comes to the authenticity of the messages you deliver, the DKIM protocol acts as a signature authenticator to help mailbox providers assess an email’s validity

✔ Use DMARC for your domain: DMARC is a security protocol that works against the threat of domain spoofing, but needs SPF and DKIM to be functional and added to the DNS

6. Monitor and review your DNS

Since you domain name system (DNS) literally translates your email-sending domain to IP addresses, you need to monitor it for the following problem areas:

❌ Misconfigurations: When a public-facing DNS server isn’t properly configured, the chances of data theft increase along with takeovers unauthenticated users who’re probably hackers

❌ DNS poisoning: This is a kind of a spoofing attack where hackers impersonate a client, device or user to redirect web traffic towards websites set up for phishing 

❌  DoS attacks: These can directly target the network you’re using to send your emails and trigger a crash that doesn’t necessarily lead to theft, but can cost a great deal of money and time

To review your DNS, make sure you:

Track Start of Authority records: This can help you detect and fix DNS-based performance anomalies since SOA records hold important info about a cluster of DNS servers

Evaluate zone transfers: This can help you align records between primary and secondary DNS servers, which in the ideal world should reflect the same components 

Run experience tests: This tests DNS performance by running recursive queries to test resolution time for DNS updates

Verify IP addresses: This can help validate IP address records between the one that’s cached and the one that’s received

7. Consider the double opt-in strategy

While many eCommerce brands with single opt-ins may have you believe that’s easier (oh it’s faster for sure,) they won’t tell you how such opt-ins can expose your subscribers to greater data thefts amongst other things. 

A double opt-in, on the other hand, asks for a secondary verification either through an email or phone number of both and ensures only those who want your emails opt-in. 

This is incredibly important to maintaining a decent to good domain reputation because too many emails sent that turn out to be unread is a red flag. 

8. Warm up a new domain

Remember we were talking about inconsistent volumes and sending rates earlier? 

You don’t want to do either if you want a great eCommerce domain reputation—instead:

Set up just a single email address (too many email addresses: spam alert!)

Set up all the necessary records (includes your MX record to set up replies as well as others like SPF)

Avoid a bulk strategy initially (manual emails are both targeted and seem more authentic when warming up)

Test an automated email campaign (ideally, start with those you know or businesses you collaborate with to see inbox placement etc.)

9. Classify your domain(s)

Since authenticity is a big part of domain reputation, you’d want to classify your eCommerce domain early on. 

For this, you need to check if the domain you’re using caters to the category you’re in—after all if you’re selling jewelry, you don’t want your emails to be going from a furniture and home decor domain. This can lead to mailbox providers flagging down your domain. 

Quick Tip: A secondary step to domain classification is to ask for email preferences—this is a secondary layer of categorization that will ensure you send emails to only those who’re interested and they receive the content they want. 

10. Go the subdomain way

To avoid top-level domain reputation to be impacted, use subdomains. 

So let’s say, if you make an email blast through a subdomain, and somehow it’s flagged, your other subdomains wouldn’t be directly affected. 

People also ask:

What is eCommerce domain reputation?

eCommerce domain reputation is all about how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) deem your email domain. Based on whether they decide your domain reputation is good or bad, the emails you send land in your subscribers’ inbox or in their spam folder. 

Typically, a good eCommerce domain reputation would earn your emails a healthy inbox placement and your subscribers would see more of them. 

If you’re curious about how your domain reputation is doing overall, look at the following factors:

✔ Bounce rates

✔ Spam complaint rates

✔ Spam placement rates

✔ Deletion before reading rates

✔ Levels of email engagement (which will include open rates, click rates and click-through rates)

Make the most of your email strategy

Most eCommerce store owners don’t see email as a serious revenue stream.

Ask them about the importance of email marketing, and you'll hear: “we don’t really have a major strategy,” “we mostly use generic templates,” or “we just send emails to people on our list.”


There are stores out there that drive 30%+ of their revenue from email marketing.

Engage can help you do the same - Book a free demo.

We’ll show you:

  • workflows we can create for your store,
  • proven ways to drive 30% or more $$ from email alone, and
  • successful templates and strategies from your industry (and others).
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