A new and improved Sender Score for a new year

Posted by George Bilbrey 

George Bilbrey
By George Bilbrey

As 2010 begins and many head to the gym to fulfill New Year’s resolutions, here at Return Path we’ll be getting our workout strengthening our data! As the world’s most comprehensive email reputation data source (collecting data from over 150 million mailboxes worldwide), we are dedicated to ensuring our reputation scores are accurate, current and thorough.

We know the email universe relies on our Sender Score. For anyone who sends email, it’s the foremost measure of email reputation – a direct reflection on sending practices based on universal reputation metrics: user complaints, spam trap hits, unknown user counts, and more. For those receiving mail, Sender Score can be used to inform inbound email handling and assist with the Herculean task of separating good email from spam.

These are the reasons why we’ll be integrating new and improved data sources into our Sender Score calculation. Though we constantly tune the underlying Sender Score data to ensure accuracy, we have some deeper changes (adding and removing data as well as tuning) that we are making in early January that we wanted to give everyone a heads up on.

When these releases are complete, we anticipate both coverage (total unique IPs scored) and accuracy to improve. We do expect an initial, minor drop in coverage, however as the changes roll out coverage should ultimately increase (well beyond what it is today).

What does this mean for those sending mail? If you are affected by the temporary drop in coverage, when you check your score on senderscore.org (or in Reputation Monitor in our monitoring suite if you’re a client), you may see a question mark instead of a numeric value. Again, this will only be temporary. Otherwise, you may notice your score (0-100) has risen or dropped from the previous average, as our analytical models are automatically adjusting to this new, broader perspective. But there’s no cause for alarm. It’ll smooth out soon.

Generally speaking, not having a score or having a minor shift in your score will NOT affect your email deliverability. The ISPs who use the Sender Score in their filtering decisions have been fully informed of these enhancements. We’ve also taken steps to ensure that our Return Path Certification program and Reputation Network Blacklist will ignore any inconsistencies in the Score.

Thank you for your patience and support as we roll out these great improvements to the Sender Score. As we continue to fortify our reputation data, Sender Score will be more robust than ever and will continue to be an increasingly crucial factor in inbox placement rates.

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About George Bilbrey

George Bilbrey is the founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems, which merged with Return Path in 2003. He is a recognized expert on the subjects of email reputation and deliverability and is active in many industry organizations, including the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) and the Online Trust Alliance (OTA). In his role as president of Return Path George is the driving force behind the ongoing innovation of our products and services. Prior to Return Path, George served as Director of Product Management at Worldprints.com and as a partner in the telecommunications group at Mercer Management Consulting. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University, and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler School of Business, University of North Carolina.

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