Reputation is more complex than a single number


I checked our SenderScore earlier this month, as quite a few people mentioned that they’d seen SenderScore changes – likely due to changed algorithms  and new data sources.

It sure looks like something changed. Our SenderScore was, for a while, zero out of a hundred. That’s as bad as it’s possible to get. I didn’t get a screenshot of the zero score, but I grabbed this a couple of days later:

Are ReturnPath wrong? No. Given what I know about the traffic from our server (very low traffic, particularly to major consumer domains, and a negligible amount of unavoidable backscatter due to our forwarding role addresses for a non-profit to final recipients on AOL) that’s not an unreasonable rating. And I’m fairly sure that as they get their new algorithms dialed in, and get more history, it’ll get closer. (Though I’m a bit surprised that less than 60 mails a day is considered a moderate volume.)
But all our mail is delivered fine. I’ve seen none of my mail bounce. It’s very rare someone mentions that our mail has ended up in a bulk folder. I’ve received the replies I’ve expected from all the mail I’ve sent. Recipient ISPs don’t seem to see any problems with our mail stream.
A low reputation number doesn’t mean you actually have a problem, it’s just one data point. And a metric that’s geared to model one particular sort of sender (very high-volume senders, for example) isn’t going to be quite as useful in modeling very different senders. You need to understand where a particular measure is coming from, and use it in combination with all the other information you have rather than focusing solely on one particular number.

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  • Hi Steve,
    I’d be happy to share some of the data behind that as well. Feel free to email me. I assume most of the issues are relating to the backscatter issue you brought up.
    I am surprised that most of your recipient ISPs are delivering the mail. We’ve noticed that most small volume mailers have issues, hence the common advice for small volume mailers to move to shared IP addresses. Can I ask if most of your subscriber domains are B2B or B2C?

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