When we think about building communication plans and drafting emails the first thought is “okay, what’s the content going to be?” And while it’s true, content is king, if your email lands in the spam folder, even the most carefully crafted content isn’t going to convert.

The foundation of better deliverability is your sender reputation. This is the metric email providers use to determine whether or not your organization is sending spam messages. Sender reputation is an individual metric that’s different for each email provider and is not something that they publish or give access to. You can gauge your sender reputation by looking at things like open rates or bounces, but there is no way to get access to it directly. The better your sender rate, the more likely you are to end up in an inbox rather than a folder or the trash can.

So how can you keep your sender reputation high and ensure your emails are getting to the right place? We’ve compiled some quick tips for making sure your emails land front and center in students’ inboxes.

Clean Your Lists

When you purchase email lists, consider using conditional formatting in excel to look for typos like ‘gmal.com’ or ‘yahooo.com’, as well as bogus email addresses like test@test.com or mickey.mouse@disney.com. Additionally, consider a service like Debounce or Zerobounce that can help remove spam trap addresses that may have snuck onto your list. Removing these before you import your list and begin your campaign can make sure you’re sending to the people you want to reach and help keep your sender reputation up.

Enforce Opt-In

It’s important to get affirmative consent from users on lists you purchase before you begin to send them high volumes of traffic. Every time someone deletes your email without reading it or worse, reports it as spam, your reputation suffers. By checking to make sure a contact wants your content, you can avoid someone marking all your mail as unwanted. This is as simple as tracking opt-ins in your CRM or email manager and sending a welcome email to new list members with a form that checks that asks them to check a box if they’d like to receive your emails. Then, filter your campaign lists on that value. This way you’re only sending repeat messages to people who want what you’re offering.

Consistent Send Volume

If you are sending 100 messages a day six days a week, and 10k on the seventh, providers will generally consider that spammy behavior. Consider breaking your reports up to distribute your send volume throughout the week or month. The more consistent your volume on a day to day basis, the better your sender reputation will be.

Send at Appropriate Times

The longer an email sits in an inbox without being opened, the more likely your sender reputation is to be dinged, even if it is eventually opened and interacted with. As such, try to send as much mail as you can during business hours in a recipient’s local time zone. Consider breaking up your reports based on time zones, which can be derived from state or country info, so that you’re not sending mail to recipients in the middle of the night.

Target For Engagement

One of the best things you can do is send more mail to people who are highly engaged, and less (or no) mail to those who aren’t actively engaged with your content. We recommend only sending every campaign to your most engaged contacts. And for those who aren’t engaging, is there a message you can send that’s hyper-targeted or with a special offer to help get them reengaged?

While there’s no magic bullet for improving your sender reputation or ensuring that every email gets read, keeping content relevant and sending to only those who want to receive your messages is a good start. Not only does this support sender reputation, but it improves open rates, and provides a better experience for your prospects.