What Everybody Ought to Know About Certification

Posted by Joey Andrean on

If you’ve heard anything about Return Path’s Certification program, you know it is the industry’s most recognized whitelist. Being on the list gives you preferential treatment at over 70 of our mailbox provider partners including AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft. This means less stringent filtering on your mail, faster delivery times, and–most importantly–improved deliverability leading to higher ROI. But, enough of the marketing mumbo jumbo for a minute. If you are new to this idea you can learn more about it here. Instead, I want you to see why Certification is so much more than a whitelist.

Once you are accepted and start receiving benefits, you’ll see data on how you perform against our standards. In addition to the benefits you receive from complying with the white list’s standards, this data is valuable in improving your email program as a whole. In fact, much of the data provided by Return Path Certification is unique to Return Path thanks to our partnerships.

So how can you make sense of this data, and take actionable steps to better your program? Let me walk you through some of the awesome data you will get.

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  1. Volume: The volume column shows your total volume reaching our certification partners with specific breakdowns at Yahoo, Microsoft, and Comcast. By comparing this to your inbox volume you can get an idea of how mailbox providers are treating your mail, and give you great data for troubleshooting. Monitoring your volume is also a very important factor during an IP warm up.

  2. Microsoft SRD Rate: Microsoft Sender Reputation Data (SRD) is Microsoft’s way of deciding if your mail is considered spam by their users. They invite users to be part of their SRD panel who then vote on whether your mail is junk or not. When a problem occurs here, it is clear your subscribers are not engaged with your mail. Perhaps you send too often, or they unsubscribed and still get your mail. Whatever the reason, this can give you data needed to make changes.

  3. RP Trap Network/Unknown User Rate: High rates within these data sources directly relates to your list hygiene practices. If your email list is old or you have a high number of inactive users this could explain why you are hitting traps. Use Certification data to pinpoint which days you hit the most traps. This will allow you to identify which list/segment is the problem.

  4. Cloudmark Traps & Complaints: Cloudmark provides anti-spam, phishing, and virus protection to over 1.6 billion mailbox providers worldwide. Through their global threat network, their filtering logic can “fingerprint” your mail if they determine it to be spam. Should you hit their traps or if their users mark your mail as junk, it will increase your chances of receiving a “spammy fingerprint,” which can influence all your campaigns sent to Cloudmark mailboxes. By knowing where you stand with Cloudmark data you can do a better job preventing fingerprints from occurring.

  5. Yahoo TINS: One of the more unique pieces of data you will receive is Yahoo TINS (this is not spam). It shows you the rate at which your users go into their junk folder and mark your mail as not spam. This is wonderful for troubleshooting issues at Yahoo to see if people are rescuing your mail. Mailbox Providers look at this data heavily. Plus, this data may give you an idea of what your TINS rate is for other mailbox providers, like Gmail!

The data you see in your Certification Dashboard is based on a rolling 30 days. With the daily performance report (DPR) you get a breakdown of that data each day without needing to log in. Each day you will see an update on the status of your IPs.  
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The DPR also includes an excel spreadsheet with all the data broken out on a daily basis. This data allows you to pinpoint the exact day when you see changes in your program. This data helps you spot trends. For example, if you send a large weekly newsletter on Tuesday but low volume the rest of the week you could see a spike in your complaint rate. The daily breakdown will show you that residual complaints continue to come in days after and affect your overall complaint rate. This insight could be what you need to decide to spread this mail out over a few days.

These are just a couple of ways the data can become actionable. So if you think Certification is just about preferential treatment, remember it also gives you smart data-driven ways to improve your email program—data you can only get through Return Path!

Apply here or talk to your Relationship Manager to begin the process of joining the Certification program.


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About Joey Andrean

Joey is an Account Coordinator with Return Path. His focus is on providing support to Relationship Managers to help them create a more meaningful customer experience. In his free time he can be found writing poetry or playing pick up games at the park. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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