How is my account's reputation calculated?

Account Administrators see a reputation value when they first log in to the Account section. But what does this reputation represent?

Your reputation basically answers the question, "How likely is an ISP to consider your message legitimate mail?" In other words, how likely is it that your messages are making it to subscribers' Inboxes?

Three factors go into calculating your reputation:

  • How many subscribers are bouncing: If your list has 20 AOL subscribers, and 10 of those addresses bounce your message, AOL thinks you either haven't contacted these people in a long time, that you don't care about removing people from your list, or that you bought your list. If your list has 20 AOL subscribers, and all of them receive your mail, you're more likely to have a real relationship with those people.
  • Spam complaints: If an ISP's customer flags your message as spam, they take that very seriously. Even a small number of spam complaints can drop your deliverability rate significantly, because ISPs assume that for every person who reports a message as spam, there are several more who don't bother.
  • Unsubscribes: Unsubscribes are weighted much less heavily than spam complaints. However, if a large percentage of your subscribers are unsubscribing, you have a problem where you have a lot of people on your list who don't want to receive it. Whether that's because you've added a group of addresses that you shouldn't have, or because your recent messages have not been of interest, or you've made a change that your subscribers don't like, a significant number of unsubscribes is almost always an indicator of a problem on a list.

Your reputation can be one of the following values (all taken as a proportion of your total number of subscribers):

  • Excellent: You have an extremely small percentage of bouncing subscribers. People rarely unsubscribe from your lists, and they never (or virtually never) report your lists as spam.
  • Very Good: You have an extremely small percentage of bouncing subscribers, but people do come and go from your list a bit. You may have had a handful of spam complaints in recent memory, but nothing to be concerned about.
  • Good: 2% to 5% of your subscribers are bouncing. You may be getting a few spam complaints, or a group of subscribers have left your list recently. If you do not mail these subscribers frequently (once every couple of months), this is a reasonable range to be in.
  • Fair: 5% to 10% of your list is bouncing, and you're getting more spam complaints and unsubscribes than normal. This is ok (not good, but ok) if you haven't contacted your subscribers within the last 3 or 4 months.
  • Poor: A significant proportion of your list is bouncing, or we have received an unusually high number of spam complaints and unsubscribe requests.
  • Dangerously Low: We have received so many bounces, complaints or unsubscribes for your account that you are in danger of having it canceled.

Most accounts should find themselves between Good and Excellent. A new account who has not sent mail to their subscribers in more than 3 or 4 months may find themselves starting at Fair (but should quickly improve.)

If you are mailing your subscribers regularly, and your reputation is Fair, you may have a problem with your content. If your reputation is Poor or Dangerously Low, your list contains quite a few addresses that should be removed before you post your next message. We do not recommend ever subscribing addresses, no matter how they were collected, who you have not contacted in more than 2 years; if your list contains addresses this old or older, you should remove them immediately. If you have added addresses that you have acquired through some other source than collecting them directly, remove them immediately. This is both a violation of the Listbox Terms of Service, and an excellent way to make sure that your real subscribers, who actually do want to get your list messages, will find them in their Spam or Junk Mail folders instead.


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