Reputation Is No Longer Black and White

 Alex Rubin 

Comcast recently announced they are using Sender Score as a factor in determining if you are eligible to participate in their feedback loop program.

Basically, if you pass their threshold for “good” (Sender Score above 60), you’re in. If you appear below their threshold for “bad” (Sender Score below 30), you’re out. And if you are in-between (Sender Score between 30 and 60), they’ll factor in additional elements to determine your eligibility.

Reputation has evolved quite a bit in the receiver world. Not too long ago, the first reputation systems only gave binary answers. Most classified senders as bad (meaning they’d be blocked), or not bad (and thus not blocked) according to their own criteria. Others followed the model of Sender Score Certified, where senders are either good (and become whitelisted) or not good (and not whitelisted – but not necessarily blocked.)

It’s worth noting that we’ve never heard of a reputation system where the only options were whitelisting or blacklisting, but we’ve heard of many where the bad/not bad and the good/not good decision processes were completely separate – which occasionally leads to conflicts or confusion. Sender Score, on the other hand, allows you see the whole range of goodness and badness.

These days we are seeing reputation scores factor more heavily and with more granularity into many receiver decisions when operating their email networks. For example, reputation can impact connection rates (throttling) – the better your reputation, the more email you are allowed to send. Additionally, some receivers auto-enable images and links for the highest reputation senders, accept mail with minimal content scanning from good senders, and greylist or temporarily block poor senders – or when they don’t have enough data to be confident of their reputation calculation yet – and outright reject all email from the worst senders. Your reputation score can even impact the level of support you receive when inquiring about deliverability issues. By the way, one great example of enabling images and links for great senders is Hotmail, which does this for Sender Score Certified email.

And of course, one place ISPs are definitely using reputation factors is with their feedback loop programs. Every receiver decides for themselves what’s required for senders to participate in their feedback loop programs. What’s interesting about the Comcast feedback loop (and a few others) is they use Sender Score. Comcast has seen that Sender Score is quick, easy, reliable way to determine sender reputation, and they know they can trust us to provide the most accurate information possible. Which is also why our Q2 Reputation Benchmark Report showed such a strong correlation between Sender Score and delivery rates.

Although Return Path hosts their feedback loop, Comcast independently determined to use the Sender Score as part of the criteria for being accepted to participate in their FBL program, and continues to make all acceptance decisions themselves – though we’re very pleased that our data can help.

This all makes it increasingly imperative that you know your number. So use our look-up service, or create a free account to dive deeper into the underlying data.

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About Alex Rubin

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