As per senderscore.org, the ‘sender score’ for any email account is a number between 0 and 100 that identifies your sender reputation and shows you how mailbox providers view your IP address.

Different ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and email service providers use the sender reputation to determine whether or not emails coming from that sender should be classified as spam.

Therefore, sender reputation or sender score is a very influential factor in determining the email deliverability for any email address.

Table of content
1. Why is sender score important?
2. How is sender reputation determined?
3. How to check sender score

3.1 SenderScore by ReturnPath
3.2 TaloIntelligence by Cisco
3.3 TrustedSource by McAfee
3.4 BarracudaCentral by Barracuda Networks
3.5 ReputationAuthority by WatchGuard
4. Request to remove from blacklists
5. How to improve and maintain good sender reputation

Why is sender score important?

When you send an email to someone, it has to overcome a few hurdles before it can enter the recipient’s inbox.

First, the mailing server will check of the recipient’s email address is valid and their mailbox isn’t already full. If you get through those checks, then the ISP or email service providers (at your email recipient’s end) will check that your email address and email content are trustworthy.

Your email content will be checked for any unsafe files, links, scripts etc. If it passes that test, your email addresses reputation will be checked. That’s when the ‘sender score’ becomes important.

If you have a low sender reputation, there are good chances that your email will either be blocked or sent to ‘SPAM’ or ‘JUNK’ folders. That’s why it is important to ensure that you always have a healthy sender reputation , in order to avoid any email deliverability problems.

How is sender reputation determined?

ISPs and email service providers use different factors to determine the sender score for any email address –

  • Industry blacklists – If your email address has been flagged or blacklisted by any mailbox service, your sender reputation is almost irreversibly damaged. From there, it becomes very difficult to get past the spam filters for most email services.
  • Spam complaints – If your email recipients start flagging your emails as spam, it damages your sender score is a big way.
  • Unsafe email contents / attachments – If your emails contain unsafe attachments, scripts, links to unsafe / unsecured sites, that also increases your chances of getting flagged or blacklisted.

How to check sender score

Let’s take a look at different tools which can help you to check your sender score. Sender score or reputation is usually calculated for a domain or IP address used for sending emails.

1. SenderScore by ReturnPath

This service is provided by Return Path. The basic tool is free you can simply register with your email account and then log into this tool. Here you can check the sender reputation of any domain.

A Sender Score is a measure of your reputation, similar to a credit score. Sender scores are calculated from 0 to 100. Sender score numbers are calculated on a rolling 30-day average and illustrate where your IP address ranks against other IP addresses. 

Higher score means better deliverability and higher chances of reaching inbox.

2. TaloIntelligence by Cisco

TaloIntelligence is a tool provided by Cisco. It is also a free tool, easily accessible, where you don’t even need to create a login account.

This tool returns the sender score in terms of – Good, Neutral or Poor scores. Good means there is little or no threat activity. Neutral means your IP address or domain is within acceptable parameters, but may still be filtered or blocked. Poor means there is a problematic level of threat activity and you are likely to be filtered or blocked.

3. TrustedSource by McAfee

TrustedSource is provided by MaAfee. It is quite similar to TaloIntelligence. It is easily, freely accessible to check your domain / IP sender reputation.

4. BarracudaCentral by Barracuda Networks

The BarracudaCentral Reputation System is a real-time database of IP addresses that have a “poor” reputation for sending valid emails. Barracuda Central maintains and verifies all IP addresses marked as “poor” on the Barracuda Reputation System.

This is a very basic tool for sender score check. It will only tell you if your domain or IP address has been flagged on their database or not.

5. ReputationAuthority by WatchGuard

This tool indicates your sender score on a scale from 0-100. It is calculated as the % of ‘good’ emails Vs ‘bad’ emails. So if 60% of your emails in the past have been classified as ‘Good’ (not containing spam or malware etc.), then you will get a sender score of 60.

Note that, in absence of a minimum amount of data on your domain, it will simply give you a sender score of 50%.

Request to remove from blacklists

Sender scores are tracked and maintained by email security solutions, spam filters, ISPs etc. Many of them also maintain email blacklists. When you check your sender scores with the tools listed above. They will also tell you if you have been blacklisted anywhere.

If somehow your domain or IP address has landed in any of the blacklists, you can go to that particular list and request them to delist your domain from the black list.

How to improve and maintain good sender reputation

Here are a few things you can do to ensure you stay clear of any ‘bad’ or ‘poor’ sender reputation –

  • Strictly avoid unsafe attachments / email contents
  • Avoid sending emails to strangers without their permission, to minimize the chances of getting flagged as a spammer.
  • Minimize the spam complaints by simply giving your recipients an option to unsubscribe.
  • Minimize the use of mass mailing tools. Instead you can use a cold email automation tool, which mimics human like email sending behavior and doesn’t get detected by spam filters.
  • Personalize your emails. Generic emails are much more likely to appear as spam. Use a mail merge tool for personalizing your emails with data from a spreadsheet.

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