Snapshot: Return Path’s Email Deliverability Services

Return Path offers tools and consulting to help you get email delivered. This is a problem for many organizations, because some spam filters suppress as much as 20% of legitimate bulk email. Return Path is the leader in its field.

Offering Summary

For organizations that send out bulk emails:

  • Deliverability and monitoring tools, plus consulting on how to maximize deliverability
  • The tools without consulting
  • A whitelist service, which lists bona fide email senders

For organizations that receive email:

  • Accreditation/whitelist. This is where Return Path investigates your email practices to confirm that you are not a spammer. The whitelist is widely used by anti-spam technology.
  • Reputation network. More than 25 ISPs and spam control vendors share information about spamming, which helps Return Path generate blacklists and the spamminess of Internet presences.
  • Turnkey Feedback Loop (FBL) hosting and management. Users can be given a "This is Spam/Unsubscribe" button to press; FBL monitors and reports on such feedback.


There are two main types of customer:

  • ISPs that want to improve the accuracy of their spam filters and do a better job of suppressing or not suppressing email from marketers and publishers
  • Medium-size and large organizations that send out a lot of email, such as financial services businesses, retailers, and e-marketers

Additional customer information:

  • Return Path has 1,500 sender clients.
  • It has 100 to 150 receiver clients, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Comcast, and AOL.
  • Millions of ISPs and corporate domains check Return Path's whitelists.
  • Most sales are direct.

Typical Pricing

  • Just the tools averages about $20,000 per year.
  • Tools plus consulting averages about $60,000 per year.
  • Whitelist is $10,000 per year; to get accredited as a bona fide email sender, the fee ranges from $400 to $1,000.

Competition, Competitive Strengths as Perceived by Return Path

  • Main competition is Pivotal Veracity. Pivotal Veracity only has tools, while Return Path also sells consulting and whitelists. Also, Return Path does business with ISPs as well as corporations, while Pivotal Veracity focuses only on corporations.
  • Lyris, which offers deliverability tools; however, these are mainly offered to Lyris clients.
  • Goodmail has a whitelist service but no tools or consulting.

Company and Finances

  • Including the recent acquisition of Habeas, combined revenues will be $25 million to $30 million for calendar year 2008.
  • The company currently is profitable; it has been profitable on and off for several years, depending on the level of reinvestment in growing the business.
  • Almost all revenues come from medium-size and large corporations that want to improve their email deliverability.
  • Receivers are not a significant source of revenues: Return Path trades information with them.
  • The company was founded in 1999.
  • Business was very different initially; Return Path has been in deliverability since the end of 2002.
  • Level of external funding is not disclosed.
  • The company currently has 180 employees.

... David Ferris

One Comment

  1. Charlie Davidson
    Posted October 28, 2008 at 4:50 AM | Permalink

    I do not recommend that anyone use Return Path or their bonded sender
    program. -If for not other reason than their complaint URL ( goes to a generic marketing page!

    You really have to wonder if it really is a bonded program (or a tool for spammers) if nobody can submit a complaint against that bond?!?!?
    I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    See the links below–td19518524.html#a19614580

  2. Posted October 28, 2008 at 6:15 AM | Permalink

    The old Bonded Sender web site is no more. Sadly, many addresses that you may have bookmarked are now 404.

    However, in my experience, Return Path are responsive to complaints. The team monitor fora such as SPAM-L and nanae. You can also sent complaints via several webmail providers’ Report Spam buttons.

    I agree with you, however, that it looks bad that there’s no longer an obvious complaint form on the Web site. The company would also do well to register with

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