Return Path to Issue Reputation Scores

E-mail firm Return Path is expected this week to introduce a beta test of a reputation management system for marketers, to help them determine how recipients perceive their mail.

The subscription service, called Sender Score, is similar to IronPort’s SenderBase in that it examines a number of data sources to rate a sender’s reputation. But SenderBase is oriented toward helping ISPs filter mail, while Return Path’s system is aimed at assisting marketers to get email delivered.

Sender Score identifies senders by IP address, by domain name, and by IP/domain pair. It’s compatible, the company says, with email authentication schemes like Microsoft’s Sender ID and the Yahoo/Cisco Systems DomainKeys Identified Mail.

“We’re big fans of authentication, but we don’t think it solves the spam problem because all it tells you is who is sending the mail, not whether you want it,” Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, told ClickZ News. “This kind of credit score model is really the only way to get at what’s a complex question, which is, ‘do I want mail from this guy?'”

Sender Score aggregates 60 different data points with information from more than 40 million email boxes, which the company says represent a cross-section of email recipients. Data tracked include complaint data, email send volume, bounce volume, security practices, identity stability and unsubscribe functionality. Sources include anti-spam firm Cloudmark and unsubscribe tracking company Lashback.

Return Path then merges that data into a score, which any sender can access for free. To find out exactly where they’re going wrong, however, senders will have to pay a subscription fee of anywhere between $1,000 a month to $20,000 a month, depending on the complexity of their systems.

The company is currently testing Sender Score with a handful of its 500 deliverability clients. A full release is expected in August.

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