Return Path Launches E-mail List Cleaning Service, Amid Increasing Competition

E-mail service bureau Return Path this week unveiled an offering that combines its change-of-address product with address verification and analysis tools, as the email database “hygiene” space appears to be heating up.

New York-based Return Path, the chief business of which is an email change-of-address service (similar to that of the U.S. Postal Service). That service addresses what has become a persistent problem for email marketers — emails that bounce back because of “dead” user addresses. This cuts into marketers’ efficacy and forces bulk mailers’ servers to shoulder the burden of processing returned emails.

Now, a new “email hygiene” service provided by Return Path identifies faulty and bouncing email addresses, and restores addresses where possible.

The company said its PureList service compares marketers’ email database against its own list of known undeliverable addresses, identifies ISPs that are blocking company email messages, standardizes email address formats, and corrects multiple forms of faulty or otherwise undeliverable email addresses.

Return Path said its PureList service should be fully available in early second quarter.

“Part of the problem can be attributed to people changing their email addresses, at an estimated rate of 32 percent per year,” said Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg. Nevertheless, “most bounces have other causes, such as a recipient’s mailbox being full, a valid address being blocked by an ISP, or people misspelling email addresses when they sign up for lists.”

“Because so much can go wrong with your email list, we believe the industry needs a reliable, experienced service bureau dedicated to email list hygiene,” Blumberg added.

The news comes as other players are expanding their presence in the area. E-mail change of address service Veripost Thursday signed a partnership with email marketer MessageMedia to offer its services to MessageMedia’s clients.

Similarly to Return Path, Veripost provides a permission-based system for updating changed email addresses. When consumers change email addresses, they are encouraged by Veripost’s marketing clients to register their old and new addresses at Veripost’s Web site, or through marketers’ sites.

And both Superior, Colo.-based Veripost and Return Path compete with ActiveNames, a New York company with a similar offering. But unlike the others, ActiveNames asks consumers to download an application that warns them when they send email to a “dead” address, and alerts others when they change their own addresses. The company provides B2B services that includes updating address databases for marketers.

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