Return Path Launches E-mail List Cleaning Service, Amid Increasing Competition

E-mail service bureau Return Path this week unveiled an offering that combines its change-of-address product with address verification and analysis tools, as the e-mail database “hygiene” space appears to be heating up.

New York-based Return Path, the chief business of which is an e-mail change-of-address service (similar to that of the U.S. Postal Service). That service addresses what has become a persistent problem for e-mail marketers — e-mails that bounce back because of “dead” user addresses. This cuts into marketers’ efficacy and forces bulk mailers’ servers to shoulder the burden of processing returned e-mails.

Now, a new “e-mail hygiene” service provided by Return Path identifies faulty and bouncing e-mail addresses, and restores addresses where possible.

The company said its PureList service compares marketers’ e-mail database against its own list of known undeliverable addresses, identifies ISPs that are blocking company e-mail messages, standardizes e-mail address formats, and corrects multiple forms of faulty or otherwise undeliverable e-mail addresses.

Return Path said its PureList service should be fully available in early second quarter.

“Part of the problem can be attributed to people changing their e-mail addresses, at an estimated rate of 32 percent per year,” said Return Path CEO Matt Blumberg. Nevertheless, “most bounces have other causes, such as a recipient’s mailbox being full, a valid address being blocked by an ISP, or people misspelling e-mail addresses when they sign up for lists.”

“Because so much can go wrong with your e-mail list, we believe the industry needs a reliable, experienced service bureau dedicated to e-mail list hygiene,” Blumberg added.

The news comes as other players are expanding their presence in the area. E-mail change of address service Veripost Thursday signed a partnership with e-mail marketer MessageMedia to offer its services to MessageMedia’s clients.

Similarly to Return Path, Veripost provides a permission-based system for updating changed e-mail addresses. When consumers change e-mail addresses, they are encouraged by Veripost’s marketing clients to register their old and new addresses at Veripost’s Web site, or through marketers’ sites.

And both Superior, Colo.-based Veripost and Return Path compete with ActiveNames, a New York company with a similar offering. But unlike the others, ActiveNames asks consumers to download an application that warns them when they send e-mail to a “dead” address, and alerts others when they change their own addresses. The company provides B2B services that includes updating address databases for marketers.

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