After the coffee break, the Reputation Twins, SPLIO’s Udeme Ukutt and Cisco Systems’ Don Owens, took to the stage to talk about “Reputation Demystified”. They explained the difference between blacklists and whitelists in terms of test grades. If you get one question wrong on a blacklist, you fail the whole test. With whitelists, you get to skip the test. 

Ukutt and Owens reminded senders that a good reputation cannot be maintained if it’s not clear who the sender actually is. Senders need to make sure that they don’t look like one of the bad guys; so don’t use DGAs and do use anchor text: “ looks evil – don’t do it.” Show you’re not a robot and authenticate, authenticate, authenticate: 

  • Use a real public host name for HELO and make sure HELO and PTR match. 
  • Don’t publish “messy” SPF records and set up and correctly configure DKIM and DMARC. 
  • Don’t neglect to show that you are a professional; include a clear unsubscribe link & headers. 
  • Don’t run DNS, web servers, etc., on the same IP. 
  • Absolutely avoid domain privacy services. 
  • Don’t use generic froms; include your company name.
  • Require a double opt-in; quality is more important than quantity. 
  • Monitor and, even more importantly, process bounces. 

Owens and Ukutt finished up by summarizing what they believe will be the future of reputation: Domain reputation will gradually be weighed more than IP reputation. New standards are coming: ARC (Auth Rcvd Chain), and BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification), among others.