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Email Marketing Inbox Placement Dips Below 80% Globally

21% of legitimate commercial messages went missing or to spam, latest Return Path study finds

New York – October 13, 2015 –  Only 79% of permissioned email marketing messages reached consumers’ inboxes, according to a recent study conducted by global data solutions provider Return Path. The rest were delivered to spam folders or weren’t delivered at all. This represents a decline over 2014 when 83% of commercial email reached the inbox worldwide.

Email marketers in the US fared even worse than the global average, reaching their subscribers’ inboxes only 76% of the time. Only one country included in the study, Brazil, represented a more difficult email marketing challenge, with 74% of messages reaching Brazilian consumers inboxes. Globally a number of highly email-dependent industries bucked the poor inbox placement trend this year: messages from brands in the apparel (92%), food and beverage (93%), hospitality (87%), and travel (85%) sectors reached consumers more reliably than others. Meanwhile messages from media and entertainment (73%) and telecommunications (74%) senders were less likely to reach their targets.

“The inbox is becoming harder to reach partly because mailbox providers are applying increasingly sophisticated algorithms to understand what content their users truly value,” said Return Path President George Bilbrey. “As signals from individual subscribers play a bigger role in determining whose messages they see in their inboxes, email marketers that maintain their ability to consistently reach audiences will be distinguished by two critical, data-driven skills. The winners will analyze subscriber engagement to develop email programs that consumers genuinely care about, and they will rely on reputation and deliverability data to see their email performance as mailbox providers see it, and take fast action to correct downward trends.”

Return Path’s 2015 Deliverability Benchmark Report, including inbox placement statistics by country and by industry, can be downloaded in full here


This year’s representative sample of 357 million email marketing messages tracked for the Return Path study were sent by recognized brands to subscribers that gave consent to receive commercial email. Inbox placement statistics are based on performance across more than 150 mailbox providers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions.

About Return Path

Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences, strengthen their customer engagement, and protect their brands from fraud. Our data solutions help analysts understand consumer behavior and market trends. We help mailbox providers and security providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam and abuse don’t. Find out more about Return Path Email Optimization, Email Fraud Protection, and Consumer Insight solutions at