Return Path gets images in inboxes

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Marketers sending e-mail with a high Return Path Sender Score certification will now be able to display images and links in Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail e-mail.

Images and links typically default to "off" at Windows Live Hotmail, which can affect creative rendering for e-mail campaigns. Now, however, Return Path Sender Score Certified e-mails will default images to "on."

"Since this is one of the biggest ISPs, particularly for consumers, this is a significant benefit to e-mail marketers," said George Bilbrey, vice president and general manager of delivery assurance at Return Path, New York. "Research consistently shows that e-mail that renders properly, meaning it looks more or less the way the designers intended, performs better than e-mails that have broken images."

Sender Score Certified e-mail messages enable links, images and unsubscribe functionality. Acceptance and compliance standards for Sender Score Certified are derived from a series of objective, transparent, quantitative metrics from Return Path's Sender Score Reputation Monitor database, which measures e-mail reputation data based on e-mail volumes, complaint rates, identity stability, list quality and other factors.

Enabling images can better engage users. According to JupiterResearch, HTML messages garner roughly double the response rate.

"When links are turned off by default it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for recipients to click them and take the actions the marketers intended," Bilbrey said. "Broken images also defeat the branding efforts of marketers since logos and other branding elements tend to be graphical in nature.

"Broken images and turned off links can make e-mails feel suspicious," he added, "tarnishing the overall consumer perception of the company that sends that e-mail."

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