BlogUncategorizedUnderstanding Email Blacklist: How to Avoid Getting Blacklisted

Understanding Email Blacklist: How to Avoid Getting Blacklisted

What is Email Blacklisting?

An email blacklist is a tool that servers use to filter spam emails. It is essentially a real-time database, popularly known as DNSBL (Domain Name System-based Blackhole List, that detects and blocks suspicious or spam content from untrustworthy sources.

This list is used by organizations like Email Service Providers (ESP), Internet Service Providers (ISP), and Anti-spam agencies (ASA)  to detect and block spam emails going through their network. 

A blacklist works as a bouncer for the recipient’s email by checking the IP of each incoming email sender against such a list. If the IP happens to appear on a blacklist, the email is rejected and never gets delivered to the recipient’s inbox. Pretty simple, right?

Thanks to blacklists, one doesn’t have to constantly clear out fake promos and financial “opportunities”  in the inbox. In some cases, you may get yourself on a blacklist out of unawareness or by accident, resulting in an obstruction in the path of your email marketing.

Why does your email get blacklisted?

You may end up on an email blacklist due to high spam complaints and bad email lists.

Here are the major reasons that can lead to blacklisting:

  • Spam complaints

If the recipient marks your email as spam it leads ISPs to think your email content or list hygiene is bad. This can even happen to the lists that are clean and opted in. The more the spam complaints, the more likely an IP will be on a blacklist.

  • Bad lists or addresses

Some blacklists use spamtrap addresses to find the lists that do not opt-in or are not current. A spamtrap is an email address that isn’t used by anyone but might still be publicly found and harvested for lists.

Some types of spam traps are – typos trap, pristine trap and recycled spam traps.

  • A surge in list size

A suspicious surge in the list size in a fairly short period of time would lead most ISPs to suspect the credibility of the list.

How can you remove yourself from blacklisting?

There are hundreds of blacklists in the world, so sooner or later, your IP address might just end up on one of them. If it does, DO NOT PANIC. First, you need to know why you got blacklisted. It could be, for example, that you’re failing SPF or DMARC authentication, and therefore, your emails appear to be suspicious. If you get blacklisted, your email provider may contact you and help you fix it. You can also contact the blacklisting companies to get your name removed. Some may offer a self-service removal tool while others may require you to go through a removal process. 

The basic steps that you should follow for the whitelisting/delisting procedure at the ISP in question:

  • Follow the URL links and apply for whitelisting/de-listing using their online form, 
  • Send an email to the mentioned email address.

You can avoid getting blacklisted again by using tools that help you improve your email deliverability. ShopAgain is a platform you can rely upon to create and design successful email marketing campaigns.

The long-term strategy is to maintain good email etiquette.

How to confirm if your email has been blacklisted

Public blacklists are the easiest and most accessible option to start browsing if your email address has been blacklisted. An aggregate service like MXToolBox is your best bet. There is an array of free-to-use tools and websites that you can use to check if you have ended up on the dark side. Various other third-party tools that you can use are:

  • MultiRBL
  • SpamCop
  • Spamhaus
  • Barracuda

How to avoid getting blacklisted

Ending up on a blacklist is going to adversely affect your email marketing. Having a bad IP rank/reputation (a number provided by ISPs and third-party blacklists)  is one of the most common reasons for getting blacklisted. Your chances of ending up on a blacklist reduce significantly if your number is higher, indicating better email deliverability. It is better to play safe than deal with the hassle of getting yourself removed from the blacklist. 

Here are a few ways to avoid having your IP flagged:

  • Maintain an opt-in list

Blanket emails often lead to spam complaints. So never email someone without their permission. It is the least you can do to practice good email etiquette.

  • Remove addresses that bounce

Your chances of getting flagged increase if you keep messaging the addresses that bounce. Keep your list clean.

  • Check your contact list for typos

Remember typo traps? Invest time to scroll through your contact list to avoid them.

  • Perform routine maintenance

Check your list regularly and religiously to rid it of spam accounts, bounced or incorrect emails.

  • Don’t buy emails

Buying emails is a violation of GDPR guidelines. It is in your best interest to build your email list rather than to buy emails.

  • Verify email addresses

Email verification tools like ZeroBounce and Kickbox should be used to ensure the authenticity of email addresses.


What is an email blacklist?

An email blacklist is a real-time tool that flags IP addresses or domains that are known to send spam. Organizations like internet service providers (ISPs), free mailbox providers, and anti-spam vendors use it to prevent spam from entering their systems. Blacklists exist to keep unwanted messages out of people’s inboxes.

How do I know if my email is blacklisted?

It is always a good idea to do an email blacklist check if you notice a sudden drop in your email delivery rates. Tools like MXtoolBOX, Spamhaus, SORBS, SpamCop, Barracuda, MultiRBLcan help you find out if you have been blacklisted. Most of these tools are free and easy to use. 

What is the purpose of blacklisting?

Blacklisting plays a crucial role in email marketing. The purpose of blacklisting is to discourage or prohibit interaction between the user and the blacklisted entity, thus eliminating spammers who don’t provide quality content. It is also used for environmental activism and corporate cyber security.

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