Authentication, Reputation & Accreditation: The Three Pillars of Email Deliverability

Here at Return Path, we’re constantly thinking & talking about reputation, authentication, and accreditation as the best way to achieve maximum deliverability. These three elements work in tandem to help ISPs better identify and ascertain whether the mail you send should reach the inbox of their subscribers.

With spam, phishing and spoofing proliferating the internet airwaves, delivery rates for legitimate marketers have been compromised. As a result, marketers must take extra steps to ensure the success of their email programs by differentiating themselves from the fraudsters and spammers. To do so, they should integrate these three methods into their overall email strategy to achieve campaign success.

  1. AUTHENTICATION: Authentication is a means by which ISPs can identify who you are by your IP address and mailstreams. It’s akin to your driver’s license and plays a key role in email deliverability. Mailers can authenticate using SPF, SenderID, Domain Keys and now Domain keys Identified Mail (DKIM). These authentication technologies all have different benefits, but today DKIM has proven to be the most reliable scheme since it allows you to account for all of your mail streams and “sign” them individually. This granular approach is more inclusive and more reliable when trying to identify legitimate senders and keep fraudsters from infiltrating the inbox.
  2. REPUTATION: Your sender reputation is very important to improving your deliverability. Many ISPs analyze your past sending activity to determine if you are a good sender or a bad one. Tools like Sender Score which provides a rating of your email behavior much like your credit score, not only gives you a metric to actively monitor and improve, but is also used by ISPs in conjunction with authentication to determine inbox placement.
  3. ACCREDITATION: Getting whitelisted is the third component in achieving maximum delivery success. Whitelists allow you to bypass some spam filters and get delivered with active links and graphics enabled in some inboxes. Sender Score Certified now offers the largest, most comprehensive and widely used whitelist in the industry covering 1.2 billion inboxes worldwide including Windows Live Hotmail and soon, Yahoo! Meeting the qualification standard for Sender Score Certified or other whitelisting programs may be rigorous but it serves as a key factor for ISPs to make a positive determination about your messages. The end result can very well mean better delivery rates for your email programs.

All three components are important to your email success, but can easily be trumped by a questionable activity. Therefore, all of your hard work in keeping your email stream clean and creating positive subscriber experiences can be washed away with one compromised server, a misguided last-minute seasonal campaign, or a purchased list of questionable provenance. On the other hand, if you follow email best practices and integrate authentication, reputation and accreditation as a core part of your overall email strategy, you can positively improve your delivery rates and ultimately your overall campaign ROI.

Learn More About Authentication: Sign up for our Authentication Rules Webinar to learn more about the benefits of authentication and how to implement it into your overall email strategy. Register today.

minute read

Popular stories



BriteVerify email verification ensures that an email address actually exists in real-time


The #1 global data quality tool used by thousands of Salesforce admins


Insights and deliverability guidance from the only all-in-one email marketing solution

GridBuddy Cloud

Transform how you interact with your data through the versatility of grids.

Return Path

World-class deliverability applications to optimize email marketing programs

Trust Assessments

A revolutionary new solution for assessing Salesforce data quality


Validity for Email

Increase inbox placement and maximize subscriber reach with clean and actionable data

Validity for Data Management

Simplify data management with solutions that improve data quality and increase CRM adoption

Validity for Sales Productivity

Give your sales team back hours per day with tools designed to increase productivity and mitigate pipeline risks in real-time