Hit Inboxes, Not Spam Folders With Your Newsletters


    This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office. You can connect with Clint on TwitterFacebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com



    As we all adjust to the new normal after having been sequestered in our homes, we're all finding alternate ways to make the most of our time.  So let's ask ourselves:  How can we use this time to get better? How can we be of service and use?   I know, without a doubt that great art is being created around the world at this very moment.  Perhaps by you!  Our entire team is focused 100% on whatever we can do to help you market and sell more art.  With that in mind, we're focusing FineArtViews on sales and marketing ideas more than ever before.  The following article was selected from our archives as it seems quite timely in the current situation and provides ideas we think you can use to improve your own art marketing.



    When you market yourself or your art by email, your sender reputation is hugely important and you must take active steps to manage it, protect it and improve it.

    What is a Sender Reputation?

    Your sender reputation is created and assigned by the big mailbox providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and AOL.  When you start sending email newsletters, these companies' algorithms make note of many details about your messages and create a new reputation for you.  This reputation changes for better or for worse based on the actions you and your subscribers take. You want to be sure your sender reputation is getting better.


    Your sender reputation is a major factor that determines whether your email marketing messages are placed in your subscribers' inboxes or spam folders.


    It is composed of information about your IP addresses and domains.  They primarily store reputation information about the following:  the IP address of the server that sends your emails, your sending domain, special settings on your domain's DNS (called SPF, DKIM, and DMARC), and the domain used in the links inside your email messages.


    While you need to be mindful of all of these IP Addresses and domains, building a reputation for your primary sending domain is the main thing you need to focus on. By sending domain, in most cases, I mean your domain, artistname.com.  The same domain that you host your website on and, if you're doing things correctly, sending your emails from. If you're not sending emails marketing messages from your own domain, you should be.  In short, your website, your sending email address, and the links in your emails should all be utilizing the same domain.


    How Your Sender Reputation is Calculated


    The big mailbox providers look primarily at two things to assign your sender reputation:

    1.  How subscribers engage with your emails

    2.  How consistently you send emails.

    High positive subscriber engagement combined with consistent sending will lead to a good sender reputation and your emails will go to the inbox.


    Low subscriber engagement and/or high negative subscriber engagement combined with sporadic sending will lead to a bad sender reputation and your emails will go to users spam folders (or, if your reputation is super bad, your emails won't be delivered at all).


    Positive subscriber engagement actions:


    • Opening your email
    • Clicking on something in your email
    • Replying to your email
    • Clicking "not spam" on your email
    • Adding your sending email address to their address book

    Negative subscriber engagement actions:

    • Not opening your emails, especially not opening many of your emails
    • Marking your emails as spam
    • Deleting your messages without reading them.



    Anything you can do to encourage people to take positive actions and avoid negative actions will help your emails go into users inboxes (more about that later).


    The other thing that affects your sender reputation is how consistently you send your emails.

    Fluctuations in your sending frequency, which can cause spikes in spam complaints, or lots of bounces (if you've not being using your list and it has decayed), will negatively affect your sender reputation.



    How to Protect and Improve Your Sender Reputation

    The section above covered how your sender reputation is calculated.  But that's not helpful unless we can actually do something to improve it.  Below, we've compiled the things you can do to ensure your email sending reputation is great and improving over time.


    1.  Encourage people to reply to your emails! - People love to connect with artists personally and by getting them to reply, you are increasing the positive engagement score.

    2.  Send consistently - you can control how often you send, so do it regularly to avoid those spikes.

    3.  Keep your list clean - a huge negative signal is continuing to send to email addresses that have bounced or have marked an email from you as spam.  Remove those people immediately! (Most Email Service Providers, including FASO, take care of this for you).

    4.  Make all the links in your email match your sending domain.  This will help you build your own unique reputation and will insulate you from negative signals on shared domains from a link tracking domain your provider is using. (We have a Beta test way to do this in FASO, I'm not aware of other email services that offer it at all).

    5.  Make your calls to action small and easy and compelling - Use a large button that draws the eye and make your call to action very compelling so people CLICK on your email.  Clicking is a huge positive signal.

    6.  Check your subscribers' email addresses for safety using an email address validation service.  Those services will help you remove role based emails and people who are known to click the "this is spam" button too much.  Remove those people! (FASO does this automatically)

    7. Ensure your domain's SPF, DKIM and DMARC records are set up properly (this is beyond the scope of this article, however, if you're a FASO customer, we take care of this and you don't need to worry about it).

    8. Only send to people who opt-in to your list with a double opt-in process - this ensures they truly want your emails and, you will know for a fact, that they clicked on at least one email from you (the opt-in email).
    Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.


    Clint Watson
    BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic

    PS - What other questions about sender reputation do you have?  Please hit reply (or comment if reading on the blog) and let me know!


    Related Posts:

    Protecting Your Sender Reputation

    How to Handle Newsletter Unsubscribes

    Single Opt-In vs. Double Opt-In

    Increase Your Newsletter Open Rates with a Better Email Address