Have you ever wondered why your email has been put on “the list”? You have done nothing wrong and are not planning to send the next great spam campaign that will burn out all the servers. At the same time, you check the blacklist status of your IP address and find out that you have been blacklisted. Performing this quick lookup could actually be the deciding factor in the success of your next email campaign.

That’s why we’ve made things simple for you.

Below you will discover the different kinds of blacklists, What you can do to check if you are being blacklisted and how you can stay off an anti-spam blacklist.

Remember it may be simple to remove yourself from a blacklist, but it is even more important to stay off blacklists in the future. You will find out more about how to keep yourself safe from blacklists in the final section.

What is an Email Blacklist?

Email Blacklists are live databases which store specific information about IP addresses and Domain addresses which signal them as being SPAM. These Blacklists are created to help prevent SPAM from being sent to another person’s inbox. However, the criteria used to detect spammy emails varies from each blacklist provider. Each list scans inbound mail with different methods and detects any red flags in real-time.

It is important to remember that blacklists do not block your emails from being sent but they are key indicators for ISPs and email service providers as to whether your IP or Domain address should be blocked.

Therefore, it is vital for the success of your email deliverability that you make sure to stay off important blacklists or get delisted as soon as possible.

Types of Blacklisting

There are two main types of blacklists, IP-based blacklists and Domain based blacklists.

IP based blacklists, otherwise known as, Domain Name Server Black Lists (DNSBL) and Real-time blacklists (RBL) are more frequently updated since they use a real-time spam alerts and base themselves on criteria that is constantly uploaded and updated by users and professional anti-spammers.

There are 3 categories of blacklists:

  • Public Blacklist – These are lists that are available to the public and can be checked by anyone at anytime.
  • Private Blacklist- These are lists set up internally by major Internet Service Providers to catch spam using internal measures and criteria. These are commonly used by the major email service providers including Gmail, hotmail, and AOL.
  • Spam firewalls – These lists are a system of firewalls and blacklists which are used by corporations to protect their internal servers. Common examples are McAfee.

How blacklists affect email deliverability?

All Email Service Providers (ESPs) have some form of protection against multiple spam complaints on their platforms. The simplest method of protection is blocking your email address when it appears on a well-known blacklist.

Once your ESP decides to block your mailing campaigns, it can be very difficult and time-consuming to get unblocked. Depending on the case, it may even be easier to set up a new account to speed things up. However, this is never recommended.

Appearing multiple times on a blacklist or being blocked by your ESP also negatively affects your sender reputation. It is very difficult to build upon a damaged sender reputation which is why it is best practice to avoid being put on blacklists when you can.

You may ask yourself, but why do I get blacklisted?

Here are the most common reasons for being blacklisted:

Frequent spam complaint rate

You may receive a spam complaint from time to time if you are an email marketer but there is a certain limit set by ISPs that you cannot breach. This number is usually around 1 spam complaint per 1000 users.

Sudden increase in sending volume

If you send an average 5,000 email per months and suddenly start to send 30,000 this will set of an alert which indicates potential spam activity

Email List Hygiene

If you do not regularly clean your lists from inactive or duplicate emails, you may be inadvertently setting off the spam police. Having recurrent bounces or even well-hidden spam traps on your lists ensures that you will be marked for spam and appear on a blacklist.

Virus / Malware

Your computer may be infected with a virus or malware. You may not be aware of this but it will affect your outgoing mail and, will cause you to appear on spam blacklists.

How to check blacklist status?

To check if you are on a blacklist, you can check each blacklist individually or use a multi blacklist check tool to scan all known blacklists at once.

You can perform a Free Ip Blacklist Check to verify your blacklist status using the most up-to-date and live blacklisting services.

If you would prefer to check one by one, here is a list of the 5 most common IP blacklisting services:

  1. Spamhaus – A highly reputable blacklisting company which provides anti-spam protection services in real-time.
  2. Spamcop – SpamCop Blocking List (SCBL) displays IP addresses which were reported directly as spam by SpamCop users.
  3. SURBL – A secondary level scanner which works in cooperation with Spamhaus in identifying more subtle unsolicited messages.
  4. Barracuda Reputation Block List – A complete list of all DNSBL IP addresses which have been identified as having sent SPAM.
  5. Invaluement – a paid subscription service which identifies and blocks SPAM which omits or eludes the standard methods of detection used by ANTI-SPAM services.

Delisting: How to get off a blacklist?

If you appear on a blacklist, the first step you should take is to confirm that you are not being blacklisted due to problems on your own computing system. Run an anti-malware or anti-virus program to verify that your servers are operating properly.

Once you have done this, you may contact the service that has blacklisted you and request a removal. Each service has different policies regarding their blacklist removal, and many of them implement a time-based policy, in which they will automatically de-list you after a set period of time has expired without recording spam activity on your end.

We have provided some links to common blacklist removal threads to help you get off blacklists:

Barracuda Removal Request

Spamhaus Removal Lookup

Spam Cop Removal Information

How to stay off Email Blacklists?

If your IP or Domain address does not appear on any blacklists then You are following all necessary guidelines for safe email sending. However, you must make sure that you continue your hard work and stay off those blacklists for good.

The best way to do this is to frequently perform an IP blacklist check to verify that you are staying off spam lists.

Check your email delivery statistics from your previous campaigns and make sure there are no sudden dips or surges in your engagement or open rates.

Try out new campaigns and make sure your content is always authentic and original.

Remember, your sender reputation is what is at stake here. Check your IP address and make sure your campaigns are an overwhelming success.