Getting Certified

What is Return Path’s Certification program?

Return Path’s Certification program approves email programs that meet high standards and want to improve deliverability.

Just like how the American FDA only certifies a product that meets high standards, their stamp does not make bad meat good. In the same way, the Certification program is a stamp of approval; it is not meant to fix deliverability issues.

Certification is ideal for a great email program that follows sending best practices and has a good sending reputation.

How does the Certification program work? 

The Return Path Certification program provides mailbox providers with a whitelist of trusted senders who meet high program standards. The Certified whitelist covers more than two billion mailboxes worldwide at top mailbox providers and filters (such as Microsoft). The whitelist is built on a network of trust between senders and receivers founded on the common goal of ensuring that good email gets into the inbox.

When you’re accepted into the Certified program, your Certified IPs are placed on a whitelist that receivers and mailbox providers around the world can access through a secure DNS server lookup. Through the DNS, Return Path shares data with mailbox providers and filters so that you can receive benefits the day you are approved.

What are the benefits of Certification?

Return Path Certification offers benefits for senders and mailbox providers. Mailbox providers like the Certified whitelist because it gives them a pass from having to scrutinize good senders. Senders love it because it gives them:

  • Special treatment at major mailbox providers and at over two billion inboxes around the world
  • Increased delivery speeds
  • Limited or no throttling limits at major mailbox providers, such as Microsoft (throttling is when a mailbox provider limits the amount of messages you can send within a certain time frame)
  • Auto-enabled images and links at many mailbox providers

In a nutshell, Certification helps senders get into more inboxes more quickly!

Are there other Certification programs, or whitelists?

In the email universe, there are three types of whitelists: personal whitelists, whitelists provided directly through mailbox providers, and commercial whitelists.

To get on a personal whitelists, senders can ask subscribers to put their emails in their address books.

To get on mailbox providers’ whitelists, senders simply apply. Many mailbox providers such as AOL, Road Runner, and offer a whitelist option. (These whitelists only affect deliverability at these mailbox providers.)

Other commercial providers also provide whitelists. Many of these provide services strictly for Email Service Providers (ESPs) or B2B companies.

Why would I want to be Certified with Return Path?

You are a good sender who wants to get into the most inboxes as quickly as possible. You don’t have time to apply to whitelists at multiple mailbox providers, or wait for senders to manually place you in their priority inboxes.

You also don’t need to waste time applying for other commercial whitelists because these offer less mailbox provider and filter coverage in fewer geographical areas.

Return Path’s Certified whitelist is the best one out there because it gets you into more inboxes more quickly at the mailbox providers you care about most.

What benefits can other Return Path products provide?

If you are currently being largely blocked by any a major ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as Microsoft, you may need to resolve other issues before being reviewed for Certification. Feel free to reach out to our sales team to inquire about what product may help you do this.

Though the Certification program cannot be used to improve the deliverability of day-to-day corporate email (such as the non-templated, free form email you exchange between employees and clients), feel free to ask us what other products or services that might be of help.

Finally, if you have any other questions to see if your email program would be a fit for our Certification or other Return Path products, email the Certification team.

How do I get Certified?

First, you apply for acceptance to the Certification program.

Analysts at Return Path will then review your email practices, including the way you handle permission, privacy, disclosures, and legal requirements. They’ll also make sure you’re sending from secure, authenticated servers. And, of course, they’ll check your reputation; you can’t be on any major blacklists or have high spam trap hits.

If you can pass the audit, you’ve proved that you have superior performance standards and a strong reputation … which means: you’re in!

What is the process and timeline for becoming Certified?

Once we receive your application, we’ll send an email that we received it and are working hard to see if you’re eligible.

Because we need to check dozens of factors about your email program, and wait for data to be sent from participating mailbox providers, the average audit process takes about a month.

During this time, we will send status updates, or, possibly, ask some questions. And when we are finished with our audit, we’ll let you know asap!

What types of email programs cannot be Certified?

We cannot Certify email programs that: 

  • Send email from dynamic IP addresses
  • Have not been sending from a dedicated IP for 60 days
  • Send content on behalf of third-parties
  • Send corporate email

If your program sends multiple types of email from one IP, segment allowable types listed above prior to applying for Certification. 

Do senders have to Certify all of their IP addresses?

Senders can choose to Certify some IP addresses, or all of them. Also, marketing and transactional email can be sent by Certified IPs. However, any Certified IP must maintain measurable sending volume and meet Certification standards

What happens if I’m not eligible?

If your mailing program is not eligible, an analyst will give you a customized explanation about what the problem was and why it happened. If the changes needed are within eligibility requirements, you’ll get the opportunity make corrections to those items. Then, you can just resend your application … at no additional cost!

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