The Power of Positive Subscriber Engagement: TINS Rates

Whether your preference is football, golf, cricket, basketball, or lawn darts, there’s usually an element of oversight to keep the players in linethe referee. Referees come in many shapes and sizes. Some carry red and yellow cards, or wear black and white stripes, or yell “over the line!” if you are bowling. If you’re like me, you have a list of choice vocabulary words designated for the referee when they make a call that results in a collective series of forehead slaps or disbelief. Of course, referees can make great decisions tooI don’t want to overlook thatbut typically, a bad call results in a slew of eye exam questions, or worse.

You know, thinking about it, mailbox providers aren’t all that different from refereesthey make calls on where to deliver mail based on the information that’s available to them.

As you might already know, subscriber engagement is “king” when mailbox providers make filtering decisions. You may not know, however, that subscriber engagement can be either negative or positive for your sender reputation. One example of negative engagement, which we all know, is the complaint rate, which—you guessed it—means your subscribers got your mail and they don’t want it. Maybe they never asked to receive it or maybe they get too much of it. There are a lot of reasons why someone might complain about your email.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the TINS (This Is Not Spam) rate carries a positive influence on your sender reputation. A TINS from a subscriber basically tells a mailbox providerlet’s say Gmail“Hey ref (Gmail)! I want that mail in my inbox NOT the spam folder!” Over time, if this rate passes a certain threshold (usually dividing the number of TINS votes by the number of emails delivered to the spam folder), you will see an increase of you mail being filtered to the inbox with Gmail rather than being sent to spam.

Going back to our metaphor, referees can make mistakes. The big difference in email delivery versus professional sports is that the fansor subscriberscan overturn a decision if there are enough requests to do so.

You’re probably already thinking, “well, thanks, but how can I track TINS rates!?” Return Path offers two ways you can monitor TINS rates:

  1. via Certification (for Yahoo! data)
  2. via Inbox Insight (be sure to download and export the .csv file), which is fed by Consumer Network data

See examples below:

Certification data example via “Full Data” (if you are currently enrolled).

travis_cert (1)

Inbox Insight data via downloaded CSV:

travis_ii (1)

Monitoring can be a very effective tool in tracking how your subscribers interact with your mail. Tracking aside, it is important to keep your sender reputation in good standing—especially with highly dynamic filtering algorithms like those in Gmail and Yahoo!, where subscriber engagement reigns supreme. Remember, the two most important elements to getting your email to the inbox that you (not mailbox providers, email service providers, or Return Path) control, are listed below, along with a few great resources on each topic:               

List Hygiene:,
The Power of List Hygiene
Poor Deliverability Cause #4: List Quality

Subscriber Engagement:
Subscriber Engagement and Your Inbox Placement Rates
Tips for Increasing Email Subscriber Engagement

Thanks for reading and happy sending!

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