Five Tactics for Staying Return Path Certified

Return Path Certification gets you into more inboxes at the mailbox providers you care about most. Because the benefits are high, standards are also high! No one knows this better than those of you facing uncertainty about your ability to remain Certified.


To help you remain Certified, follow these five tactics (described in detail below) to reduce your complaints, stay compliant with Certification standards, and have better performance, overall.


The five tactics are pretty simple! They include:

  • Setting clear expectations

  • Giving people what they want

  • Sending content in a timeframe users expect

  • Cross-promoting your brands in a way that makes sense to your users

  • Following email sending best practices

Set Clear Expectations

To keep your users engaged and happy, set clear expectations with your users. Subscribers may complain if they get email they didn’t believe they consented to. They may also complain if they receive email with confusing content, or content they didn't expect.


To help set clear expectations:

  • Offer clear disclosure: tell subscribers (when they sign up) what email they will receive, and who they will receive email from.

  • Use best practices for consent: let subscribers opt-into receiving emails from your company, and third-parties you work with.

  • Tell subscriber what is available to them for free, and for a price. Subscribers may be disappointed when they encounter a pay wall after being invited to view your content.


Give People What They Want

Send meaningful, engaging content that matches subscriber’s interests, needs and desires including those needs and desires that have changed over time.


Doing this will make your email program more compelling, which will help you get a better return on investment. Also, people will complain if they don’t believe they are receiving a fair exchange for the personal details or payment they’ve given.


To give people what they want:

  • Let people pick the type of mail they want to receive by choosing items in a preference center; promote your preference center on your website and email templates.

  • Take key data from subscribers’ search profiles, and use it to increase relevance.

  • Regularly invite subscribers to update their personal profiles with details that could be used to achieve better targeting and relevance.

  • Review consumer feedback on web forums, social media sites, and similar platforms to target issues.

Send Content in a Timeframe Users Expect

Subscribers should only receive emails they want, when they want them. Find a balance between overwhelming subscribers with content and sending too subscribers too infrequently.


To find a good timeframe for sending emails:

  • Let people say how often they’d like to receive email through a preference center.

  • Send consistently; Return Path research has found that complaints (including SRD complaints) rise if average sending time increases or decreases.

  • Decrease the amount of time users are considered to be inactive; six months or more is too long.

  • Use engagement data such as email opens, email clicks, or recent web activity to determine whether or not a user was ever active or is currently inactive.

Cross-Promote Your Brands in a Way That Makes Sense to Your Users

If you own several brands and want to cross-promote those brands, clearly explain who the other brands are, under what circumstances the subscriber will receive content from them, and how to unsubscribe.


If migrating a subscriber from one brand to another, follow these five steps:

  1. Send communication about this migration from the brand the subscriber registered with.

  2. Tell subscribers why you’re moving them. For instance, say: “Based on your profile, we think that you might like to sign up with”

  3. If subscribers join, let them unsubscribe from the existing brand.

  4. So subscribers won’t register email from the new brand as unsolicited, wait until they’ve activated the welcome email before sending email from the new brand.

  5. To help subscribers remain engaged, remind them in the email footer why they are receiving emails from the brand.

Follow Email Sending Best Practices

Senders with engaged, happy subscribers typically follow email best practices.


To find more best practices about how to set clear expectations with subscribers, send them relevant content, and remain Return Path Certified, visit the new Return Path Education Center.


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