Just over one in five (22%) commercial emails sent globally on the first half of 2013 never made it to the subscriber’s inbox, according to a new report from Return Path.

This means that billions of messages sent with the intended recipient’s permission were either bumped into the spam folder or, more commonly, didn’t reach the inbox at all.

Furthermore, the global inbox placement rate actually declined slightly versus the first half of 2012, dropping 4% year-on-year.

Obviously on the plus side the good news is that 78% of marketing messages do reach their intended recipient.

Deliverability is one of the topics covered in our Email Marketing Census 2013. According to the responding companies (58%) clean and up-to-date lists have the biggest impact on improving deliverability, and this has increased by 4% since 2012.

The next most cited factors are relevance of email to recipients (45%), reputation of sender (44%), and use of confirmed opt-in data (30%).

Which of the following have the biggest impact on improving the likelihood of emails reaching the inbox (i.e. deliverability)?

Looking at the responsibility for deliverability, some 84% of company respondents believe that it falls on the shoulders of the marketing team while just 28% believe it’s the responsibility of the email service provider.

In contrast, agency respondents were more likely to place responsibility with the ESP (40%) or with themselves (36%).

Whose responsibility is email deliverability?

Deliverability by industry

Return Path’s report also looks at deliverability by industry. Retailers proved to be one of the best performing sectors with an inbox placement rate of 92%, up 5% on last year’s total.

Only utilities (95%), consumer products (93%) and publishers (97%) performed better in the first half of 2013.

The report suggests that the high deliverability rate achieved by retailers reflects a consumer demand for opt-in email offers. For more information on this topic, check out our recent blog posts on how the email sign up process differs between major retailers and how different brands design their welcome emails.