The ideal threshold in the Sender Score tile in Return Path Platform is the average measure from a variety of industries' top senders found in Return Path's Provider Network. The top senders are represented by the very best, 1% - 2%, of global IP addresses, which have good infrastructure and high deliverability. If you have deliverability challenges, then the ideal threshold is a benchmark to work toward achieving.
Because the ideal threshold is based on the top senders, it fluctuates naturally over time to accommodate changing sending and subscriber behaviors. This is evident by looking at the 7, 15 and 30 day rate thresholds.
Temporarily exceeding ideal thresholds
If you exceed an ideal threshold temporarily, closely monitor your deliverability from the affected IP address to see if there is a negative impact. Although it is unlikely that exceeding an ideal threshold temporarily will cause deliverability problems, it also depends on the severity. If the ideal threshold for complaints is .15% and your complaint rate is .16%, then you shouldn’t be too concerned unless you see a corresponding drop in inbox placement at one or more mailbox providers within Inbox Monitor. If the ideal threshold for complaints is .15% and your complaint rate increases to 1%, then you should be concerned as it may signal an issue with your email program at one or more mailbox providers.
Consistently exceeding ideal thresholds
Consistently exceeding ideal thresholds may signify an issue with your email program regarding list acquisition, list hygiene, complaint handling and bounce processing. You should investigate the possible causes for consistently exceeding thresholds and monitor your deliverability using the Inbox Placement and Low Performing Campaigns tiles in Return Path Platform.
Possible causes of exceeding an ideal threshold
Exceeding an ideal threshold may happen due to a variety of factors related to your email program.
- Send volume is erratic and inconsistent
- A campaign is sent to all of your subscribers all at once when normally you send to small segments
- New email addresses are acquired from a third party
- Holiday sending frequency is increased without notifying subscribers
- A new email stream is sent without asking subscribers to opt-in
- A campaign is sent to the suppression list by accident
- The complaint handling process breaks
- The bounce handling process breaks
- You may see an increase in complaint rates due to a sudden drop in volume. Because not all subscribers open their emails at the same time, some of them may open your emails days later. This is what’s known as a complaint hangover. Since reputation metrics are calculated by a 30-day rolling average, a complaint rate may inflate with a sudden drop in volume.
Use ideal thresholds as one of your sending health indicators
When looking at the thresholds, be sure to use it as one indicator for monitoring your sending reputation and deliverability health. You will likely exceed ideal thresholds occasionally, but that does not mean you are a bad sender or that you will see deliverability problems. Following sending best practices such as consistent sending volume, using opt-in permission methods and practicing good list hygiene can help you achieve and maintain rates at or below ideal thresholds.
If your deliverability and engagement performance is helping you meet your business goals, then you don’t need to be too concerned when ideal thresholds are exceeded temporarily. But, if you are consistently exceeding ideal thresholds and your performance is not helping you reach your business goals, then you have an opportunity to improve in one or more areas related to sending best practices.