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Sender Reputation and Sender Score: Definition and Application

In email marketing, there are two elements that determine whether your emails arrive successfully in your inbox or not: the sender score and the sender reputation.

There is still a lot of confusion when it comes to putting these two terms together and how they relate to the email blacklist.

In this article we explain to you what Sender Reputation and Sender Score actually mean, what they measure and how you can optimize each of them.

What is sender reputation?

The e-mail sender reputation addresses the behavior of an IP address, the domain and the content of every e-mail and is to be understood as a complex metric.

The sender reputation, in turn, is made up of three individual reputations:

  1. IP reputation
  2. Content reputation
  3. Domain reputation

IP, content and domain reputation work hand in hand to provide an overall picture of the email practices of a sender or even the View the complaint rate of a sender address.

IP reputation determines the quality of the email sent by a sender based on his email history.

It indicates how many recipients would like to receive e-mails from an IP address. Bounces, spam or unwanted mass mails, called UBE for short, are measured here.


The content reputation determines the quality of the email content. IPs analyze the type of content that a sender's e-mail contains and determine whether the sender is trustworthy or not.

The domain reputation is the reputation of your stored domain.

Whether for e-mail campaigns in the field of e-commerce, tourism or fashion - a good sender reputation and sender score help you to achieve higher sales for your company.

More on this below.

Why sender reputation matters

Your actions in the digital world affect how others perceive you.

The biggest mistakeWhat you can do as a marketer is to think that your actions on the internet will have no impact.

Exactly the opposite is the case!

Is your reputation bad, your e-mails will not end up in your recipients' inboxes, but will be sorted out beforehand.

In the worst case scenario, ISPS (Internet Service Providers) such as yahoo or gmail will trap you with spam put directly on the e-mail blacklist.

The sender score as a measured value for the sender reputation

But how do you find out how your sender reputation is doing?

The good news: the reputation of the sender can be measured. This is done using the Sender Score. Or to put it another way: The Sender Score shows your sender reputation.

It reveals important data on the following points:

  • Complaint rate - the rate at which users are complaining about your email as junk.
  • Unknown user rate - the number of invalid users in your subscriber lists.
  • Triggering spam traps - Spam traps are email addresses that do not belong to anyone and have the main task of catching spammers and senders with poor list hygiene.

The Sender Score is a metric developed by Return Path. The reputation is on a Rated from 0 to 100.

If a sender has a low score, then there is a high probability that their email campaigns often have high bounce rates, high block rates, and low email open rates.

On the other hand, if a sender has a high Sender Score, it could mean that most transactional and marketing emails from the sender land in the inbox.

What makes a good sender score?

Okay, so now you know how to measure sender reputation, but what exactly is a good sender score?

From what number are you in the green area and from when should you take action?

Sender ScoreExplanation
Very good sender reputation. There is no need to review email marketing practices.
Medium sender reptutation. A review of email marketing practices is recommended. Problems with deliverability could threaten.
Not so good sender reptutation. A review of email marketing practices is imperative. Problems with deliverability are threatened or probably already exist.

What different sender scores mean

Domains with senders of 90 and more show a complaint rate of less than 1%, an unknown user rate of ~ 1% and an average of 0.36% spam traps.

Conversely, those with very poor senders of 10 or below had a complaint rate of 7.4%, a 7% unknown user rate and an average of 7.53% spam trap hits.

How to check your Sender Score

Checking the Return Path sender score is fairly straightforward. Follow these steps for an email reputation test:

First: Go to https://www.senderscore.org/

Secondly: Register and create an account with your professional email.

Third: You should receive a confirmation email. Click on the "Activate Your Account" window.


Fourth: As soon as you log in you should be redirected to this page.

Here you can view the Sender Score of either an IP address or a domain:

Fifth Searching for domain names takes you to a page with a list of IPs sending email from that domain, your email sending volume, and finally your Sender Score.

These values ​​show you whether this domain sent good or spam mail in the 30 days prior to your search.

Why the Sender Score alone is not enough

A high Sender Score doesn't automatically mean the end of your email worries.

Like any other aggregate, the Sender Score misses other very important factors that affect the overall sending of emails.

After all, this proprietary system comes from Return Path and not from ISPs.

As such, ISPs may have slightly different ways of measuring your email reputation and include other variables that determine whether or not to send this campaign.

Return Path suggests:

A high sender score alone does not lead to higher inbox placement rates. The involvement of participants, the reputation calculations of a mailbox provider and the content of the incoming message, none of which is included in the calculation of the sender scores, play an important role in the final filtering of each mailbox provider ”.

This is what e-mail deliverability experts agree on, including “Word to the Wise” founder Laura Atkins:


Basically, just because you have a great SenderScore doesn't mean you will have good delivery. Likewise, a bad SenderScore does not mean that your mail is not meant to be delivered.

The sender reputation is not the be-all and end-allto see if your email campaigns are great in all areas.

Ultimately, the Sender Score does not measure the creativity of the email content, which is crucial for creating email campaigns with high open rates.

Hence, it is best that you focus on email deliverabilityas this is the best indicator of whether your emails will be delivered to the inbox rather than the spam folder, or whether they will not be delivered altogether:

According to Return Path’s 2018 Deliverability Benchmark Report, 15% of emails sent worldwide do not end up in the recipient's inbox. Of these, 5% are classified as spam or blocked in some other way (10%).

It is also a good idea Invest in other indicators of email reputationthat are more suitable for sending e-mails.

For example, an email marketer in his Medium article complained about areas that Sender Score ignored.

Around 90+ points were rated low on Google Postmasters, which analyzes and measures email sending practices based on Gmail's complex filtering system.

Hence, Google Postmaster Tools can be a great alternative for you if most of the emails on your lists are Gmail users, but less so if they are from other ISPs.

In fact, it's best to understandthat ISPs not only measure email reputation differently, but can also have different acceptable standards for different metrics overall.

This is the main reason why an e-mail campaign, for example, can achieve excellent results in terms of Gmail deliverability, since most e-mails end up in the inbox, but less excellent results are achieved in Outlook.

Look at the Gmail inbox.

Definitely have ISPs different filter systems and often modify them to stay one step ahead of malicious spammers.

If every ISP filter worked the same, then each one would be easy to hack.

So the best way to improve your email delivery is Improve your email delivery practices in general. Sometimes the best changes are the most obvious.

This is how you improve your sender score and your sender reputation

The big picture is about making sure your Sender Score is great across the board.

That's why we've put together a guide here to make sure you're sending email in the best possible way.

In order to achieve a good sender reputation, your email marketing practice has to be right on three levels:

    1. Technical equipment must be clean
    2. The data must be of good quality
    3. The email content must be correct
Technical facilities
Verify your domain using SPF, DIKM and DMARC
Link your return address to an active website
Avoid free web-based email addresses such as @gmail, @hotmail, @yahoo, @ web.de etc.
Avoid noreply @ email addresses
If necessary, send via a dedicated IP address
Guarantee good data quality
Do not buy email addresses and contact lists from third parties
Use the double opt-in procedure
Delete inactive recipients
Remove bounces
Compose the email
Write good email subject lines
Avoid spam words
Pay attention to the correct text-image ratio
Send your emails regularly
Run spam tests

Checklist: How to Improve Your Sender Reputation and Sender Score

For a detailed look at these points and what you can do to reach your recipients' inboxes more efficiently, read here: Deliverability: This is how your e-mails arrive


Return Path's Sender Score and Email Reputation are ways to evaluate a sender's sending practices.

However, the Sender Score does not directly measure a sender's email reputation. ISPs have their own proprietary sender reputation measurement algorithms to get the sent emails to your recipients' inboxes as in improving deliverability and we have shown ways how to do this.

You now know what sender score and sender reputation mean, why they are important and how you can optimize them with Mailjet.