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No Email Marketing Fatigue in Q4 2014: Return Path Report

Consumers Got More Commercial Email During the Holidays…and They Liked It

NEW YORK – February 11, 2015 – Email analytics company Return Path today released findings from its latest quarterly snapshot of inbox data and consumer behavior, contradicting popular theories on email overload, especially during the holiday shopping season. While consumers received more commercial messages on peak marketing days, they read roughly the same percentage of them and lodged fewer complaints about shopping-related messages than others. The data suggests that instead of experiencing email fatigue, consumers welcomed more messages from retailers this year.

How Much More Email Made it to the Inbox?

The average consumer inbox received fewer than ten daily messages between October and mid-November, and then saw roughly two more on peak days, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday – an increase of approximately 25 percent. During the four weeks after Thanksgiving the increase was generally less pronounced, with roughly 10 percent more messages in the inbox on a daily basis.

Consumers read 22.4 percent of the messages they received during the holiday shopping season – close to the quarterly average of 22.8 percent; so their reading habits kept pace with marketers’ volume increases. Neither were they especially inclined to complain about the shopping-related messages they received. Email classified as “shopping” received an average of 63 spam complaints per 10,000 messages, which is fewer than most commercial categories, including “travel” (70 complaints per 10,000 messages), “finance” (84 complaints per 10,000 messages), and “news” (72 complaints per 10,000 messages).

Daily Email Use: Few Consumers are Typical

While the average email account received 9-10 daily messages during Q4 2014, only 25 percent fell within that range, receiving 6 to 10. Another 15 percent of consumers received 11 to 20 daily messages. At the outside ranges, relatively few (14 percent) received more than 20 daily messages, while many more (46 percent) received five or fewer. Notably these estimates include only inbox-delivered messages, so mail delivered to these consumers’ spam or junk folders — roughly 12 messages per day, on average –is omitted from these ranges.

“While most marketing industry pundits praise the email channel for its exceptional ROI, few openly challenge the myth that consumers don’t like it or merely tolerate it. The data consistently refutes that view. When brands craft responsible, consumer-friendly email programs that comply with established best marketing practices, people read it, engage with it, and most importantly, actually like it,” said Return Path President George Bilbrey. “The data used here to track behavioral trends can also be used by individual brands to monitor their own subscribers’ levels of engagement, essentially to make sure that customers like the email they receive. That’s critical, and not just during holiday peaks; as this report shows, the battle for consumers’ attention in the inbox is an everyday challenge.”


The findings in Return Path’s State of the Inbox report are based on the anonymous, aggregated mailbox interactions of 2 million actual subscribers with more than 3.8 billion email messages received during Q4 2014.

About Return Path

Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show marketers how to stay connected to their audiences, strengthen their customer engagement, and protect their brands from fraud. Our solutions help mailbox 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. Consumers use Return Path technology to manage their inboxes and make email work better for them. Find out more about Return Path at