Changes to Return Path Certification Standards

This week we are announcing an upgrade to the standards of the Return Path Certification program. We will no longer certify mail streams which are strictly comprised of “third-party marketing” email (e.g., email-based advertising that is not accompanied by content and is sent on behalf of a different company than the one to which the end user subscribed in the first place).


This upgrade in standards comes after listening to our ISP partners and taking a good, hard look at the data over the more than five years we’ve offered Certification as a component of our deliverability solution. The fact is that while these mail streams account for a small percentage of the Certified program, they account for an overwhelming amount of the program’s spam complaints. These types of email were also three times more likely to be voted as “junk” by the panel that powers Windows Live Sender Reputation Data.


Raising the bar on our standards is good for end users and good for our receiver partners. In fact, by establishing and continually maintaining high standards the Return Path Certification program offers the most extensive coverage and benefits like images enabled at Windows Live Hotmail and now Yahoo! in addition to favored inbox placement at 1.4 billion inboxes worldwide.


And while we aren’t going to sugar-coat the fact that this upgrade will have a negative impact on a small handful of our more than 2,000 clients, we know that it is good for the email ecosystem as a whole – end users, receivers, and the much larger group of marketers and publishers who send transactional email, newsletters, and first-party marketing email.


Moreover, affected clients will continue to be served by our software tools, professional services, and Safe level of certification as we help them expand their first-party marketing programs. We have already begun this work with several clients and are very excited about the ideas they have already started brainstorming to produce more relevant and targeted emails. We believe these kinds of first-party marketing programs will generate much higher response rates than any third-party email ever could, turning into a net positive for the companies that are able to make the switch.


You can read the details of the new standards here. If you are a Return Path client and have questions about how this change might affect you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager.

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