Recently, I wrote about the demise of Sender Score as an accurate representation of a sender’s likely deliverability success or failure. I received a lot of very interesting feedback to the post, and it was overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people that I respect in our space reached out saying they agreed. Of course, there were also some who disagreed (mostly Return Path employees), and that’s great for discussion. I wanted to continue that discussion here today.
The first counterpoint that was brought up was something along these lines. “Why wouldn’t you use every piece of information available to you?” I agree with that question at a high level, generally different pieces of information make a lot of sense in reviewing your options. However, in this case, I can’t see any way that using a known flawed metric like Sender Score should be a part of that process. Just because a statistic exists, doesn’t mean that it is accurate. If you know that something isn’t accurate, you wouldn’t use it in a formula. We still haven’t seen any evidence that Sender Score tells us anything that is accurate today
The second argument was that somehow I was making the point that there was no such thing as reputation. Let me be very clear on this one, there is certainly reputation, and I believe that is more important than ever. If you don’t think that different ISP’s look at senders specifically, you haven’t been paying attention. You could reference just about any blog post or customer facing document that we’ve written the past few years, and see that we’re constantly talking about the importance of reputation.
The only “reputation” that I am talking about as being inaccurate is Sender Score. There’s not a one size fits all reputation score that gives you an accurate number
What should you be doing? You need to understand what your benchmarks should be in your space. You should watch individual engagement numbers, bounce numbers, complaints, and soft bounce codes at individual ISP’s to judge success at each one. You do have to look at ISP’s individually because that’s how they are looking at you. Gmail couldn’t care less about your performance at Hotmail.
I often say that deliverability is easy. You send relevant messages to people who want to receive them, and you will most likely have great deliverability. It’s a real simplification, but pretty close to the truth. There’s no magical number for success, no secret settings, and no hotlines to unblock every ISP at the push of a button. What I mean is that a smart marketing process which includes an explicit opt-in process, a welcome series, relevant content, and lifecycle management go hand-in-hand with deliverability success. We’ll talk more about what that process should (and shouldn’t) look like in future posts.
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