How to Check Your Email IP Reputation & Blacklists Online

Written By Gracija Atanasovska

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your email IP reputation - it takes time. And since there’s neither a perfect nor automated way to do it, it’s your job as a marketer to ensure that you’re doing the right thing and growing your reputation in the right direction.

It all starts with monitoring: if you’ve been sending emails from an IP with a poor reputation, your emails will most likely not be delivered to your customers.

The good news is that you can check this relatively easily and find out what’s the status of your sending IP with mailbox providers.

A Few Words on IP Reputation

All emails that you send from email service providers (ESP) like Bento are sent from an IP address which is a unique identifier of the sender. Internet Protocol addresses (IP addresses) are unique numbers that point to a particular internet location. You can see your email sending IP as an address that identifies the server where your emails are sent from—and you can look at your IP reputation as a measure of the level of trust that inbox providers put in that particular sending IP.

Then you have the ISPs or Internet Service Providers. Think of them as the guardians of the inboxes of your subscribers. Their task is to figure out whether the message trying to get in the inbox should actually enter or not.

Now, these guardians will determine whether a message crosses the inbox threshold based on its history and previous connection to the receiver (the sending IP address keeps track of this).

ISPs will first look at various data points in order to properly assess the situation. So, for instance, if your sending IP has received few spam complaints over time, as well as a small number of bounce rates, it’ll look much more trustworthy to the ISP.

On the other hand, high bounce rates and plenty of spam complaints will definitely tarnish your IP reputation, which also means higher chances of being denied inbox access.

Then we have shared IP and dedicated IP addresses. If you use a shared IP, then you don’t have full control over every message that’s being sent from the IP, because, as the name says, you’re sharing it with other users who might or might not use it to send spam or other malicious types of emails. If, however, you’re sending from a dedicated IP, then you’ve got full control and your IP reputation depends exclusively on what you do with your address.

You have to remember that there’s no such thing as one, all-encompassing IP reputation. It depends on the relationship you have with each individual ISP, and it may be different from one receiver to the next.

Why is IP Reputation Important?

As you were able to see so far, it’s pretty simple: if you want your messages to be delivered to the desired inboxes, then you need to have a solid IP reputation. Although IP reputation isn’t the only determining factor whether your emails are going to be delivered or not and whether the internet providers will trust your intentions, it is, however, one of the most important ones.

Receivers use IP reputation to make guesses and project expectations about the credibility of your emails and their quality, which is why nurturing a good IP reputation will reduce email bounces to a minimum and will make for faster email delivery.

How to Check IP Address Reputation?

There are a couple of steps you need to take to check your IP reputation.

First of all, you’ll need to find your IP address (which is not really hard), and then use a tool that’ll help you make a proper assessment of your IP reputation.

If you’re using a tool like Bento, head over to the Sender Authentication screen (use search to find it) and you’ll see what IPs your account has been assigned.

If you are not using Bento, you will need to send yourself an email from your email marketing tool and dig through the headers to work out which IP it is using. Make sure that these messages haven’t been sent as part of any test because sometimes a different IP is being used. After you do this, look at the message headers. Often, ESPs rotate IPs so you can never be sure. When in doubt, raise a ticket with them.

Another way to do it is to set up SPF/DKIM authentication with your provider and sign up for Google Postmaster Tools. They’ll give you a pretty good breakdown.

Tools for Checking Your IP Reputation

Now let’s take a look at the best online tools to check your IP reputation.

### SenderScore

This is one of the most well-known tools for checking your IP reputation. For this service, you will have to create a free account.

The scale for calculating sender scores is 0 to 100. Basically, the higher your sender score, the better your IP reputation is, as well as the deliverability rate of your emails. Scores above 90 mean that you have a good reputation; lower scores, however, like below 80, mean that you will have to react quickly about your IP reputation.

The numbers are calculated on the basis of a 30-day average score; they also show you your IP address ranking status compared to other IP addresses.

Google Postmaster Tools

This tool from Google allows you to see plenty of info about the emails pouring into Gmail from your own domain. In their analytics, they include IP reputation and domain reputation, spam rates, Gmail delivery errors, encryption usage, as well as success and failure rates for email authentication.

Talos Intelligence by Cisco

If you want to use this public tool for checking your IP reputation, you will have to go to their Web Reputation grade section. The type of grading used is marked as: good, poor, neutral, and unknown.

Microsoft SNDS

This one is most similar to Google’s Postmaster tool. The SNDS stands for Smart Network Data Services and it offers data on IP reputation, spam complaint rates, as well as the amount of spam traps your emails are being delivered to.

BarracudaCentral

The Barracuda Reputation System lets you look up both your IP and domain reputation. Their real-time IP address database tells you whether your reputation is good or poor.

TrustedSource

TrustedSource, which is a part of McAfee security, gives you info on your domain and web affiliations and reputations, DNS, information concerning the mail server, but also plenty of other info on the activation and history of your domain, as well as its associations.

Spamhaus

Spamhaus is a widely used anti-spam service that contains a large amount of data on blacklists and domain reputation. One of the largest of its kind, Spamhaus has protected email users from the European Parliament, the White House, and the US Army. Spamhaus has a Register of Known Spam Operations (also known as ROKSO), a database containing information on spam operations and spammers eliminated from more than three ISPs. Spamhaus also has a DROP (Don't Route Or Peer) list which tells of stolen or controlled by spammers CIDR blocks.

DMARC Digests by Postmark

DMARC is an email authentication protocol that is used in the fight against email impersonation or spoofing. It gives domain owners a way to locate and monitor the origins of emails sent from their own domains, and it also provides instructions to email receivers on how to block the messages that don’t arrive from sources that still haven’t been authenticated.

What About Other Free IP Blacklist Tools?

There are plenty of free, mass-checking tools on the market. The difficulty with these is that they check the databases of blacklists that are not widely used in mailboxes (less than 1%). The big ones you want to track are those listed above.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Email Blacklists?

Blacklists are lists in real-time whose job is to identify IP domains or IP addresses that have a history of sending spam and/or other malicious emails - you know, IPs with a poor reputation.

There are plenty of these blacklists on the internet (with different inclusion standards) and they are used by ISPs, anti-spam vendors (to stop spam from getting into the system), as well as free mailbox providers.

Your address can be on more than one ISP, depending on how many emails you’ve sent, as well as their quality.

What Do I Do if I’m Added to a Deny List or a Blacklist?

Ending up on a blacklist is not the end of the world. Most of the time it’s temporary and you can definitely improve your IP reputation - however, you will first need to get to the bottom of the issue.

What you need to do as a first step is to double-check the tools you use in your email sending, and see whether your recipients are indeed not getting your emails.

You then need to work out which provider is throttling or blocking you as it tends to be either a single provider or a small cluster of them. From there, you need to work with those providers to follow the necessary steps to get delisted. This often involves either your or your ESP (Email Service Provider) filling out forms saying you’ve fixed the issues causing you to be flagged.

After that, you will need to do regular maintenance of your email lists and get rid of any recipients’ addresses that tarnish your IP’s name. Finally, after you do this, you can contact the platforms responsible for the blacklists and ask them to take your IP out of them. Some of these platforms will tell you how you can do this on your own, and some will do it for you.