More stringent ISP filtering and deteriorating sender reputations mean that global email deliverability declined by 6% to 76.5% in the second half of 2011.

Email certification company Return Path announced the findings in its Global Email Deliverability Benchmark report, which monitored data from 1.1m campaigns.

These covered 142 ISPS in North America, Central and Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific territories from July through December of 2011.

In the UK, 83% of marketing emails reached the inbox, with 7% being delivered to the spam folder and 10% registered as missing or blocked.

The study suggests that an increased volume of emails also contributed to the fall in delivery rates, as overwhelmed consumers are more likely to mark emails as spam rather than unsubscribing.

In the global landscape, North American inbox placement rates (IPR) experienced significant declines with an 8% drop, bringing in inbox placement rates closer to 79%.  

The Asia-Pacific region’s deliverability rates declined by 14% in the second half of 2011 with only 67% of all mail reaching its intended inbox destination, while in Central and Latin America only 72% of emails made it to the inbox.  

Return Path client services director for Northern Europe Richard Gibson said the key to improving deliverability rates was to manage reputational factors.

Marketers need to own the factors that impact on their reputation, such as complaint rates, and work out why their emails aren’t making it through to the inbox.”

To improve performance, marketers first need to look at their deliverability rates, then modify factors such as email frequency and management of old subscribers to improve their reputation with ISPs.

He said 100% IPR was achievable, but brands need to be aware that ISPs are raising the bar on reputation metrics - making it harder to get into the inbox.  

According to the majority (53%) of companies that took part in the Econsultancy / Adestra Email Marketing Census 2012, having a clean, up-to-date email list has the biggest impact on improving IPR.

The next most cited factors are focus on relevance of email to recipients (50%) and reputation of sender (38%).

In a separate study, Return Path analysed a sample of 40,000 Gmail mailboxes, and over 110m messages from July 1 2011 to December 31, 2011.

It found that 93% of all Gmail subscribers now have priority inbox enabled, up 15% from Return Path’s previous study. But Gmail inbox placement rates declined to 79% with 21% of mail being delivered to the spam folder.

Out of the 79% of mail delivered to the inbox, only 8% were marked priority, a 54% decline compared to Return Path’s previous study.

David Moth

Published 20 March, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (4)

Dean Marsden

Dean Marsden, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai Ltd

Interesting statistics. I believe everyday users are still unaware of the option to unsubscribe and the use of the spam button is far easier, even if they did agree to sign up to the newsletter.

over 6 years ago

Tim Roe

Tim Roe, Deliverability and Compliance Director at RedEyeEnterprise

Nice post David, it’s an interesting report, but the results shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most email marketers. The main ISP’s have been introducing lots of funky inbox management functionality over the last year or so. The knock on effect was always going to be a much tougher environment for the “batch and blast” marketer. For the last couple of years, report after report has suggested that the performance gap between those marketers that target and segment and those that don’t, is widening. I think this report reinforces that fact that to get the best out of email, you have to take it seriously (and I don’t just mean seriously high volume). There are a number of methods that can be used to segment for deliverability, here is another post on why you should segment email.

over 6 years ago


Alec Saiko, Marketing Consultant at Aviva

To add to Tim's post, in the age of the behavioral inbox (read: Gmail's Priority Inbox and Hotmail's Sweep) ISPs are tightening the screws even more, in many cases prioritising user selections over confirmed authentication methods. Think of it as SPAM filters of the yesteryear but on a more granular, inbox level with an added logic of customer interaction with the sender.

This makes the old adage about organically grown email lists over purchased ones even more important, since several under-performing campaigns can have a detrimental deliverability impact on the overall reputation of the sender's domain, IPs and even brand.

The answer to all of that is simple: send engaging email only to those who want to receive it with the information they want to read. How marketers accomplish this is up to them.

over 6 years ago

Johnathan Conlon

Johnathan Conlon, Email Marketing Manager at Royal Mail

What's everyones understanding of "focus on relevance"? As it has been given such importance here. I know what my view is, but interested to hear others.

over 6 years ago

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