Email service providers today incorporate advanced techniques like content analysis, machine learning, and sender reputation scoring to accurately filter emails and reduce spam mail hitting their customers’ inboxes.
Sometimes, these measures are a bit too effective; they occasionally stop legitimate emails from reaching your inbox. However, using a safe sender list lets you create a rule that allows certain senders to email you, regardless of the content of the message.
But how does a safe sender list work? Why was this feature introduced? How to add an email to your safe sender list? And if you’re an email marketer, what can you do to improve deliverability and avoid asking your recipients to add you to their safe senders list? We address all of these questions and more!
Table of Contents
- What Is a Safe Sender List?
- Add an Email to Gmail’s Safe Sender List
- Adding Emails to Your Outlook Safe Sender List
- Can’t Email Subscribers Without Joining Their Safe Sender List?
- How Campaign Refinery Makes You a Safe Sender
What Is a Safe Sender List?
To explain what a safe sender list is, we’d like to clarify the concepts of whitelisting and blacklisting.
Whitelisting and blacklisting are email filtering techniques used to control which emails are allowed to be delivered to a recipient’s inbox and which ones are blocked or sent to a spam folder. These techniques protect against spam, phishing, and other unwanted or malicious content.
- Whitelisting: This process explicitly allows certain email addresses, email domains, or IP addresses to bypass spam filters and get delivered to the recipient’s inbox. Typically, users or email administrators create a whitelist by specifying specific email addresses, domains, or IP addresses that should always be accepted. You can use whitelisting for important contacts, friends and family, or for specific newsletters, to ensure such emails aren’t marked as spam.
- Blacklisting: Blacklisting is the process of blocking or filtering out emails from specific senders, domains, or IP addresses. Blacklists are commonly used to block known spammers, email addresses associated with phishing attempts, or domains known to distribute malware. Email service providers often maintain and update blacklists regularly.
These techniques are not mutually exclusive, as both can be used in combination to create a powerful email filtering system. For example, email administrators in companies use a combination of whitelisting and blacklisting — the former to ensure important business emails get through and the latter to block known sources of spam and malware.
Safe Sender List: A type of whitelisting
Adding someone to your safe sender list, also known as a trusted sender list, is a method of whitelisting. Spam filters typically block emails from IPs/domains that have poor sender reputation, so adding an email address or domain in your safe sender list signals your email provider that you consider such emails to be trustworthy.
Let’s look at how safe sender lists are useful:
- Prevents false positives: Having a safe sender list is useful in preventing false positives, as email security systems are not always perfect and mark legitimate emails as spam occasionally.
- Prevents communication issues: It also helps manage important emails — if you regularly receive important communication from specific individuals, organizations, or services, adding their email addresses or domains to your safe sender list ensures you don’t miss critical information.
- Control your email experience: You can choose which senders or domains you trust and want to receive emails from, even if they would otherwise be flagged as spam.
While a safe sender list can be helpful for ensuring important emails reach your inbox, it’s essential only to add email addresses or domains you genuinely trust. Adding malicious or spammy addresses could expose you to harmful content.
Add an Email to Gmail’s Safe Sender List
Gmail doesn’t have a traditional “safe sender” list like some other email clients do, but you can achieve similar functionality by creating filters to guarantee that emails from specific senders or with specific criteria always reach your inbox. Here’s how to set up filters in Gmail:
- In the upper-right corner of your Gmail inbox, you’ll see a gear icon. Click on it to access the “Settings” menu.
- From the dropdown menu that appears when you click the gear icon, select “See all settings.”
- In the Settings menu, click on the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page under the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” section and click on the “Create a new filter” link.
- In the “From” field, you can enter the email address of the sender you want to ensure always reaches your inbox. You can also add additional criteria, such as specific keywords in the email subject/body.
- After specifying your filter criteria, click the “Create filter” button in the bottom right corner.
- In the next screen, you’ll see various actions you can apply to matching emails. To ensure emails from the specified sender always reach your inbox, check the box next to “Never send it to Spam.” You can also modify other rules for your filter, like applying a label or forwarding emails.
- Once you’ve configured your filter criteria and chosen the desired actions, click the “Create filter” button.
- Gmail will confirm that your filter has been created. Click the “Create filter” button again to finalize the filter.
And that’s how to set an email address as a safe sender on Gmail!
Adding Emails to Your Outlook Safe Sender List
Outlook is an integrated email, calendar, and personal information management app developed by Microsoft and used by millions of people across the world. Below, you will see how to add an email to your safe sender list in Outlook, so that you can receive emails without issues.
Outlook app on Windows:
- First, open up your Outlook app.
- Look at the top of the window and click on the “Home” tab.
- Now, let’s deal with those spammy emails — go to the “Junk” dropdown menu in the “Delete” group on the ribbon.
- Here, click on “Junk Email Options” and navigate to the “Safe Senders” tab.
- This is where you whitelist emails. Click the “Add” button and type in the email addresses or even entire domains you want to trust. For example, you can add “email@example.com.”
- Once you’ve added the email addresses or domains you trust, click “OK” to confirm and save your changes.
Outlook on the Web (Outlook.com)
- Start by opening your web browser and going to Outlook.com.
- Log in to your Outlook account.
- Look for the gear icon in the top-right corner of the Outlook.com page and click on it — these are your main Outlook settings.
- Next, click on “Mail,” and then head over to the “Junk email” section.
- You’re almost there! In the “Safe senders and domains” section, click the “+ Add” button. For instance, you can add “firstname.lastname@example.org” and hit the Enter key.
- After you’ve added the email addresses or domains you trust, don’t forget to click “Save” to make your changes stick!
Using these methods, your contacts will be able to email you without any issues. Be cautious when whitelisting entire domains though; not all senders from a domain may be as ethical as a known contact.
Can’t Email Subscribers Without Joining Their Safe Sender List?
If you find yourself constantly asking your subscribers to add you to their safe sender list, the problem may lie elsewhere. It could be due to several common mistakes email marketers make. For example, no one likes unsolicited emails — a good way to avoid annoyed recipients would be to use a double opt-in signup method to add them to your email list.
Luckily, many of such issues are fixable! We made a list of the most common issues below and included solutions for them.
|High spam complaint rates||Get explicit permission before emailing your recipients, always send relevant content, and make it easy for recipients to unsubscribe|
|High bounce rates||Regularly clean your email list, remove invalid addresses, and use double opt-in methods to validate new signups|
|Delivery errors||If your emails are being marked as spam, it indicates an issue with your email sender reputation, which is tied closely to your IP and domain reputation|
|Low engagement||Step one is good list segmentation. Next, improve your email content and subject lines, and send frequency|
|Poor email authentication||Ensure proper email authentication (like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) is set up for your domain|
|Unreliable Email Service Providers||Choose a reputable ESP with a good sending infrastructure and a commitment to email deliverability best practices|
How Campaign Refinery Makes You a Safe Sender
Instead of constantly asking your readers/email recipients to add you to the safe sender list, you can avoid all the issues in the above table by simply signing up with a reputable and elite email platform such as Campaign Refinery. Using our email platform will ensure you’re always on your subscribers’ safe sender list!
Let’s look at the other advantages of joining hands with Campaign Refinery.
- Excellent deliverability: Joining Campaign Refinery ensures your email deliverability is at its best as your content hits recipients’ inboxes rather than being marked as spam or bouncing.
- Sender reputation: Domain and IP reputation, and by extension, your sender reputation, is critical to prevent your emails being tossed into the spam folder. At Campaign Refinery, we designed our email platform to offer the best tools and software to elevate your sender reputation and let it shine. Additionally, we also implement best practices and only onboard premium clients, which in turn is beneficial for you as a customer as you will see your sender reputation improve dramatically. This will result in reduced bounce rates!
- Email list management: Manually cleaning lists is history; Campaign Refinery comes with automated list cleaning, which gets rid of spam traps, invalid emails, typos, and dormant accounts.
- Thousands of templates and a simple UI: We offer a variety of email templates and design tools that make it easy to create professional-looking emails without the need for extensive HTML coding or design skills.
- Automate your campaigns: Campaign Refinery offers automation features that allow you to set up automated email campaigns based on triggers, user behavior, or specific events.
- Analytics: Our reporting tools help you track every aspect of your email campaigns, providing insights into open rates, click-through rates, conversions, and more. This data helps you refine your strategies for better results.
- Security compliance: At Campaign Refinery, we insist our customers use security protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC on their domains. This ensures compliance with email marketing regulations.
- Integration with third-party tools: Don’t want to let go of your favorite plugin? Campaign Refinery offers support for thousands of popular plugins that email marketers love.
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We’d love to hear about your experiences applying the lessons in this book, so be sure to contact us!