Profiles updated for email deliverability


June 11, 2013 by Brian Ghidinelli

ReturnPath's SenderScore is an important rating for email servers as it impacts deliverability across a wide range of email services. Recently we saw our reputation take a brief nose dive when our score dipped. The reason? We had reportedly been sending emails to honeypots, unadvertised email addresses designed to capture spammers.

The problem? We don't do that. In fact, further research showed that some of the domains of our legitimate users had expired and been reconfigured as honeypot domains. Our once legitimate opt-in email addresses had aged out and become a liability. On top of that, a mailing list we operate was tricked by honeypot "from" addresses trying to spam us. Our software tried to do the right thing and verify the request with an opt-in confirmation but that confirmation only generated additional email to the spam traps. Ouch!

That was simply no good. We immediately began reaching out to key parties and updating some of our processes. Tonight we made the most recent change on our to-do list. As part of a routine release window we performed some batch processing on older accounts. Accounts that haven't registered for an event in several years have been set to inactive status. All profiles are still available and no data has been deleted! This change only means the old profiles will no longer be included in the email blaster. We also caught up our permanent bounce processing so that email addresses which no longer work were also flagged as inactive. The net result is that your email blast counts may appear to be reaching fewer people but, with improved deliverability, your messages will be reaching an even higher percentage of real subscribers going forward. If you want to review the profiles, you can list all inactive participants by choosing "Members" in the top navigation and then clicking the Inactive link.

Email deliverability is hard and it is only becoming harder as ISPs struggle to cope with the non-stop barrage of spam and unwanted email. We'll continue to make changes and tweaks as necessary in order to keep your email reaching its recipients.

Update - More about Inactive Status

We're receiving some questions about the update and there is some confusion over the inactive status in general. The inactive status has been around and in use for more than a year. Before the update above, you already had people flagged as inactive. Here are all of the reasons a profile could be flagged as inactive:

  1. Recipient flagged your email as spam with a supported ISP; we switch them to inactive

  2. Clicked the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of emails you deliver; flagged themselves as inactive

  3. Have had three or more permanent bounces to their email address

  4. Have not registered for an event with your organization since 1/1/2006

We're being very pragmatic here - we don't want to remove anyone from your distribution lists who is still an engaged member or participant. We are working to keep everyone from shooting themselves in the foot by sending messages to people that don't want them or whose email addresses no longer work and eroding the reputation of our mail server.

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