New Research from Return Path Demonstrates Link Between Subscriber Engagement and Reduced Spam Placement
Fourth annual report reveals industry benchmarks for key metrics that impact deliverability
NEW YORK, February 20, 2019 — Today marks the release of the annual email engagement benchmark report from data solutions provider Return Path. The Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability provides sector-specific results for email marketing metrics like read rate, reply rate, forward rate, complaint rate, and more. Collectively, these metrics provide critical insights about subscriber engagement, which plays a significant role in determining whether email reaches the inbox. According to this report, industries that consistently outperformed the average in these metrics also saw less email delivered to spam.
“For several years now, major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have been placing an increased focus on subscriber engagement as part of the spam filtering process,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path. “This study demonstrates that keeping subscribers actively engaged with your email program is a major factor in email deliverability. But at the same time, we know that fewer than one-third of marketers are tracking critical engagement metrics like read rate, forward rate, and complaints.”
Among the key findings from this report:
- Reversing the upward trend of the past two years, overall spam placement decreased by five percentage points (9 percent in 2018 compared to 14 percent in 2017).
- Overall, subscribers took a more active role in managing their inboxes in 2018 compared to 2017. Read rate increased slightly from 22 percent to 24 percent, spam complaints more than doubled from 0.17 percent to 0.39 percent, and the “deleted without reading” rate jumped from 12 percent to 16 percent.
- Industries with the lowest spam placement rate (banking & finance, distribution & manufacturing, and insurance) also outperformed nearly every benchmark for subscriber engagement. Brands in these sectors tend to have account-based relationships with their subscribers, which provides some explanation for the stronger engagement.
- The amount of email relegated to the spam folder varied significantly by industry, from just 4 percent for senders in distribution & manufacturing to 19 percent for those in the education/nonprofit/government sector. These two verticals also claimed the top and bottom spots, respectively, in 2017.
Report findings are drawn from more than 6.9 billion commercial emails received in 2018. The report’s analysis is broken down by industry sector, allowing marketers to compare their own subscriber engagement metrics against industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement—ultimately leading to better deliverability and marketing ROI.
The complete Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report can be found here. You can also read The State of Email Engagement for additional insights into how subscriber engagement impacts email deliverability and overall effectiveness.
Return Path conducted this study using global consumer data consisting of more than 17,000 commercial senders, 2 million consumer panelists, and 6.9 billion commercial email messages sent to Microsoft, Gmail, Yahoo, and AOL users between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. Consumer data is information captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user initiated and engagement based filtering decisions by mailbox providers. Consumer data can uncover behavior based factors and thresholds that influence inbox placement at large mailbox providers, and can’t be identified by non-interactive seeds.