Email deliverability is still an issue for companies, with an average of just 79.3% of permission-based commercial emails reaching inboxes in Canada and the US.

This statistic comes from a Return Path Deliverability benchmark report, and suggests that a significant proportion of marketing budgets are being wasted.

Of the 20.7% of emails that didn't make it to inboxes, 3.3% ended up in junk folders, while the remaining 17.4% went missing altogether. Delivery rates for B2B emails were even worse; just 72.4% of marketing emails reaching their intended recipients.

The figures differ greatly from UK stats(pdf) from the DMA for 2008, which put average delivery rates for retention and acquisition emails at 95% and 89% respectively.

This indicate that email marketers are doing better then their North American counterparts, but it could also indicate differences in how delivery rates are calculated.

According to Return Path, it bases its percentages on the number of emails that actually reach inboxes, rather than just measuring bounce rates, but the DMA methodology in unclear.

According to Econsultancy's Email Marketing Census 2009, deliverability is a key concern. According to companies that actually know the figures (which was less then 20%), an average of 10% of emails are lost due to non-delivery, though agencies put this figure at 14%.

One issue we found in the census was that very few organisations (just 15%) surveyed thought that deliverability was a top-three area of priority, probably due to a lack of awareness of how much of their email budgets are being lost as a result. 

As Henry-Hyder Smith of Adestra has previously pointed out on this blog, a small improvement in delivery rates can have a significant impact on sales, and investment in solving the problem is worthwhile.

Graham Charlton

Published 22 July, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (1)


Sara Kmiecik

It's very surprising that so many email marketing messages are missing inboxes, but even more surprising that only 3% end up in the junk folder!

almost 9 years ago

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