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New Research from Return Path Investigates the Effect of Reputation on Email Marketing Success: 90 Percent of Delivered Messages Come from Reputable Senders

2016 Sender Score Benchmark Report reveals key findings about the state of email marketing

NEW YORK — April 12, 2016 — Return Path—a leading email data solutions provider—today released its 2016 Sender Score Benchmark Report. Using data from Sender Score and Return Path’s Reputation Network, the new report analyzes a sample of more than 4 trillion email messages sent last year to investigate and measure the impact of reputation on inbox placement.

The 2016 Sender Score Benchmark Report reveals that only highly reputable email marketers are able to consistently reach their intended audiences. For example, senders scoring 99-100 (the best possible reputation score) saw only 2 percent of their messages being blocked or sent to spam. This figure jumped to 10 percent for senders scoring 81-90, and to 24 percent for senders scoring 71-80. For senders scoring 70 or below, only a small fraction of messages were actually delivered.

“We know that very little legitimate email comes from senders with a Sender Score below 71. But simply having a ‘good’ sender reputation is no longer enough—it has to be outstanding,” said Scott Roth, General Manager, Email Optimization at Return Path. “Marketers need to know that when they send a message to customers, it’s going to land in the inbox. Even the difference between 90 and 98 percent delivery is huge. This is precisely why monitoring your reputation and maintaining it at the highest level possible is critical to successful email marketing.”

Spam complaints send a strong signal to mailbox providers that messages are unwanted, and they also have a significant impact on the sender’s reputation. Senders scoring 91-100 had an average complaint rate of just 0.17 percent, according to Return Path’s report. By contrast, senders scoring 71-80 saw complaint rates of 2.29 percent—nearly 14 times higher than the best senders.

The report shows that, while overall spam volume is declining, more than half of all sent email is still spam. Of the more than 4 trillion messages analyzed in Return Path’s study, 52 percent came from senders scoring 70 or below—down from 71 percent the year prior. The good news for marketers: mailbox providers divert the vast majority of spam before it even has the chance to reach consumers’ inboxes, blocking 56 percent of all messages sent.

Return Path’s complete 2016 Sender Score Benchmark Report can be viewed here.


Return Path’s 2016 Sender Score Benchmark Report analyzed more than 4 trillion messages sent during 2015 from IP addresses whose Sender Score was calculated, and whose subscriber engagement and inbox placement data were available for analysis. In addition to Sender Score data, the report used data from Return Path’s Reputation Network to track inbox placement rates across mailbox providers. Data used for this report were aggregated and anonymous, and not limited to Return Path clients. More information on the service is available at

About Return Path

Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences, strengthen their customer engagement, and protect their brands from fraud. Our data solutions help analysts understand consumer behavior and market trends. We help mailbox providers and security providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam and abuse don’t. Find out more about Return Path Email Optimization, Email Fraud Protection, and Consumer Insight solutions at