What To Do If Your Email Is Blacklisted

Last week, we shared everything you should do prior to sending your first email blast using Zoho Campaigns. In this article, the worst-case scenario has happened, you’ve been blacklisted. You done goofed. Whether you bought a list, didn’t do double opt-in, or sent a mass email using old data, the damage is done.

So what now?

Here is everything you should know on how to get your domain off the naughty list.

How Did This Happen?

Before we dive into reversing this situation, let’s look at how you potentially wound up in this position. For most businesses, these are the three main reasons:

  • High Bounce Rate – The email addresses you used no longer exist. It is normal to have a few bounces when sending a large campaign of 1,000+ recipients. However, if you send a mass email and receive a 10%+ bounce rate, you will most likely have been flagged immediately by servers.
  • Undesired Content – Did you recently buy a mailing list? This is a big no, no, yet many businesses to get started often find themselves buying lists. Even if you check the list, if the people receiving your email are uninterested, which they most likely are since they didn’t request your content, expect to be flagged. This can be caused by a high amount of users deleting the email before opening or marking it as spam.
  • Multiple Emails Per Day – Sending out 2-3 large email campaigns a week is acceptable. Sending multiple per day every day will get you in trouble.

Sometimes, things are out of your control. Here are a few examples that may have also gotten you on this list.

  • You’ve Been Hacked – Though security is increasingly better, hackers still have many deceitful ways to gain control of your account. Even if it is for a handful of hours, the damage was done during that period. Often times hacked accounts to send out mass spam emails instantly flagging your account.
  • Email Spoofing We’ve all seen this, someone pretending to be someone they aren’t, whether it is Google, Amazon, or even pretending to be you. Spoofers are out there and can sometimes cause damage to your credibility.

How To Check If You’ve Been Blacklisted

There is some good news: MXToolbox is a free tool that initially costs you nothing. Enter your domain name and click MX lookup.
Within seconds you should see a breakdown of the IPs associated with your domain:

And when you click into one you can see if you are blacklisted by any of the top servers:

This list will tell you exactly which server has blacklisted you and the reason.

How To Get Off The List

This next process may take a few days to a few weeks, but isn’t as complicated as many think.

First, fix the reason you were blacklisted. As mentioned above, you most likely fell into one of those categories. Correct your actions before proceeding to the next steps. Otherwise, you will remain on these lists.

Second, you will need to reach out to each Blacklist and submit a removal-request. For example, let’s say we were blacklisted by Barracuda. We would need to search for Barracuda’s removal request form and submit the form with an explanation of why we were blacklisted and that we have corrected our actions. Use this form as an example: https://www.barracudacentral.org/rbl/removal-request.

Third, be patient. You are on this list for a reason. Go easy on the mass emails, clean your lists, and make sure people are opt-in to your lists. Additionally, make sure your emails have the option to unsubscribe. You do not want to be flagged again while your account is being reviewed.

Generally speaking, after you are removed from a blacklist, if you follow proper email practices, you will stay off of it.


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With a background in Operations Research and Data Analysis, Lucas is a Brazilian programmer that likes to get stuff done quickly and reliably. In previous jobs, he implemented industrial job scheduling, fleet management and detailed long-haul route optimization – among other data-driven processes – to reach objectives of increased profit and reduced wasted resources. His goal is to make Zoho fully automated and with more meaningful data for spot-on decisions.