Return Path Offers Guidance for Reaching the Inbox at Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo

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New guide shares tips and best practices for improving deliverability at the top three mailbox providers.

Thanks to improvements in spam filtering, today’s inboxes are nearly free of unwanted mail. But this progress comes with a price: on average, 20 percent of commercial email never reaches its intended target. And the challenge for marketers is that each mailbox provider is unique when it comes to filtering algorithm, infrastructure requirements, sender support and services, and more.

A new guide from Return Path, Marketer’s Field Guide to Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo, provides specific details about the deliverability rules and requirements for these top mailbox providers. The report also offers guidance and actionable advice for email marketers looking to increase inbox placement among Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo subscribers.

Following are a few key takeaways from the guide:

Gmail is the world’s largest webmail provider, but its deliverability requirements are closely guarded. Understanding how to reach Gmail inboxes is critical for marketers, but it’s no easy task. Gmail does not use common resources (like third party whitelists and public blacklists) and they provide little in the way of support for senders. However, Gmail has begun to relax the secrecy around their deliverability requirements, starting with the launch of their postmaster site in 2015. Using this site, verified and authenticated senders can access bulk sender guidelines, dashboards, and Gmail’s unique feedback loop.

Outlook.com places significant importance on human judgment in their spam filtering process. Outlook.com considers things like send volume, spam complaints, and sending practices, but they also utilize a unique element in evaluating email content and sender reputation: the Sender Reputation Data network. This randomly selected cohort of active Outlook.com users provides feedback on specific messages to help train and improve the Outlook.com filtering algorithm. In a similar vein, Outlook.com users have access to a number of inbox management features that help to improve the filtering process, including scheduled cleanup, sweep unsubscribe, and a “focused” inbox.

Whitelists can help to improve inbox placement at both Yahoo and Outlook.com. Although Gmail does not offer any proprietary or third party whitelisting opportunities, senders who qualify can get priority placement at both Yahoo and Outlook.com. Yahoo offers a proprietary “Bulk Sender Application,” which allows senders to apply for priority placement based on a review of their reputation. In addition, both Yahoo and Outlook.com recognize Return Path Certification, the industry’s most widely accepted and valued whitelist, which confers special benefits like less stringent filtering, zero throttling, and other preferential treatment.

The complete guide can be downloaded here.

About Return Path
Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences and strengthen their customer engagement. Our data solutions help analysts understand consumer behavior and market trends. We help mailbox providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam doesn’t. To find out more about Return Path solutions, visit us at returnpath.com or request a demo.

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Shelby Pritchett
Finn Partners
+1 313 486 0664
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