Email Deliverability Still Plagues Commercial Email Senders Worldwide: Only 81% of Email Reaches the Inbox
Global Study Reveals Critical Contributing Factors, B2B Issues and New Filtering Applications Impact Inbox Placement
New York, NY September 20, 2011 Return Path, the world’s leading email certification and reputation monitoring company, today announced the findings from its Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, 1H 2011. The findings of the report indicate that email deliverability still plagues commercial email senders worldwide with only 81% of all permissioned email making it to the inbox. Globally, one out of every five emails is not delivered to the intended recipient, with 7% landing either in a spam or junk folder and 12% simply missing. While deliverability rates vary by each region, Return Path research points to three key factors: belief in the “bounce rate myth,” lack of financial accountability for deliverability failures and resistance to implementing best practices. The report also looks at B2B issues and the impact new filtering applications have on inbox placement.
Three Reasons for Deliverability Failures
- Senders continue to believe the “bounce rate myth” or whatever gets sent and doesn’t bounce must be reaching the inbox. This isn’t the case. Senders are only notified when their email is a hard bounce, not if it’s been placed in a junk or spam folder. The rate senders must understand is their inbox placement rate – the number of emails that actually arrive in the inbox.
- Deliverability failures cost businesses money but these failures are masked by revenue generation from email campaigns. Assuming that a program that generates revenue or gets good response must be delivered to all the inboxes that matter is a mistake. There is significant lost revenue from email that does not get delivered to the inbox and senders need to take deliverability failures more seriously.
- Many senders are still resistant to implementing the best practices that make email deliverability more likely and more consistent. Return Path research shows high percentages of top brands are missing basic best practices like welcome messages, efficient opt-out procedures and appropriate permission levels.
Key regional findings
North American deliverability is globally the highest with 86% of emails making it to the intended recipient. Canada has a high rate of email that goes missing at 12.2% but only 2.56% is delivered to the spam or junk folder. The United States has a more equal balance of email that goes missing at 5.9% and email delivered to the junk or spam folder at 7.56%.
In Europe, for the first half of 2011, approximately one in six legitimate emails or 16.5% never reached the subscriber inbox. Additionally, more than one in ten commercial emails or 10.4% are missing, blocked by ISPs before reaching their intended recipient. In comparison, Europe lags a full three percentage points at 83.5% behind North American deliverability rates at 86.5%.
In Central and Latin America, email delivery continues to be a major hurdle with 62% or the equivalent of only 6 out of every 10 emails making it to the inbox. Of the remaining 38% of emails, 21% is rejected at the ISP-level and 17% is put in the junk or spam folders. This is particularly problematic in Brazil. With a full 25% of all permissioned email being delivered to the spam or junk folders and one out of every 10 emails or 11% going missing, only 64% of all email gets delivered to Brazilian inboxes. In comparison to the global average of 81%, Brazil shows a clear need for improved deliverability.
With more than 1 in 5 emails or 78% never making it to the inbox across Asia Pacific, Australia posts a strong inbox placement rate of 89% – with only 6% going missing and 5% being sent to the junk or spam folders. The email delivery situation in China doesn’t meet the benchmark for the rest of the APAC region with only 58% of permissioned email sent actually reaching the recipient. Largely, 39% of email is missing due to being blocked at the ISP level and only 3% is delivered to the spam or junk folders.
Reaching business addresses continues to be difficult as inboxes are protected by systems like Postini, Symantec and MessageLabs. Only 80% of email is delivered to the inbox through these enterprise systems. While this is a 5% improvement from 2009 when just 75.2% made it to the inbox, the multiple company-level filtering methods used for business addresses mean that deliverability is still a major concern.
Impact of new inbox technologies
In addition to conducting the Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, Return Path analyzed a panel sample of 30,000 Gmail mailboxes from July 1, 2011 through August 10, 2011. 81% of Gmail mailboxes measured have priority inbox enabled, with the percentage of adoption steadily increasing during the analysis period. For all mail observed during that time, average inbox placement was 91%, with 9% marked as spam. Average placement of messages in the priority inbox out of those that went to the inbox was 17%.
From a best practice point of view, marketers with much focused segmentation, strict data hygiene and strong content strategy have not seen any dramatic shift in their campaign response due to these new inbox developments. By carving out message streams that are highly relevant to their subscriber base, they’ve developed a loyal following.
“What marketers don’t know about their deliverability leaves their business vulnerable and decreases the amount of revenue they can generate from their email channel, said Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. “Only 81% of global email reaches the inbox. We can move the needle significantly higher by understanding where email goes and why and taking responsibility for where it lands. Having access to relevant deliverability data, taking deliverability failures seriously and continuing to implement best practices is crucial for marketers to improve their program’s effectiveness.”
The report reviews data from 149 ISPs in North America, Central and Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Asia Pacific territories from January through June of 2011 and tracks the delivery, blocking and filtering rates for over 600,000 email marketing campaigns.
About Return Path
Return Path makes email work better by scoring and certifying email senders from around the world. We help marketers, publishers and other large-volume email senders increase their response rates by providing the world’s leading inbox deliverability solution. We help mailbox providers and email administrators at ISPs and enterprises block unwelcome and malicious email by providing near real-time IP reputation scores and other data-driven tools. Taken as a whole, these tools and services improve the consumer experience of email by protecting them from spam, phishing and other abuse. Return Path offers free access to Sender Score, the email reputation measure compiled through our cooperative data network of ISPs and other email receivers, at our reputation portal senderscore.org. Information about Return Path can be found at returnpath.com.