Background confetti Background confetti Background confetti Background confetti Background confetti


Return Path Reveals One in Five Commercial Emails Fails to Reach the Inbox

New research from Return Path’s 2016 Deliverability Benchmark Report places global inbox placement below 80 percent.

NEW YORK, August 2, 2016 — Just 79 percent of legitimate commercial emails worldwide reach their intended target, according to new research from data solutions provider Return Path. The 2016 Deliverability Benchmark Report shows that the remainder—a full 21 percent—are diverted to spam folders or blocked entirely. These global numbers remain unchanged from the company’s 2015 benchmark report.

“Reaching the inbox is critical in today’s competitive marketplace. If your emails aren’t seen, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI,” said Return Path President George Bilbrey. “But hitting the inbox is harder than ever. Email filtering is constantly evolving, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to combat spam and deliver the content their users truly value.”

The report also reveals that global deliverability experienced a slight but steady decline quarter over quarter, with 24 percent of messages missing the inbox in the last quarter studied.

Email marketers in the US experienced below-average inbox placement, with just 73 percent of messages reaching subscribers—six percentage points below the global average. US inbox placement was relatively strong in Q2 and Q3 2015 (78 percent and 80 percent respectively), but dropped below 70 percent in the first half of 2016.

Other key findings include:

  • Canada, which has historically lagged the US in inbox placement, saw 89 percent of its commercial emails delivered to the inbox—10 percentage points higher than its 2015 inbox placement rate of 79 percent.
  • Australia and UK boasted the highest inbox placement of any countries in this study, averaging 90 percent and 88 percent, respectively.
  • Germany saw an uncharacteristically high spam rate of 20 percent in Q2 2015. However, German marketers were able to recover throughout the rest of the year, ending the period with an average of 80 percent inbox placement.

The annual benchmark report from Return Path examines how email is delivered and how to measure inbox placement, along with global and regional benchmark broken out by quarter. Report findings are drawn from a representative sample of more than 2.5 billion commercial emails sent between April 2015 and June 2016. The complete 2016 Deliverability Benchmark Report, including inbox placement statistics broken down by country, can be downloaded here.


Return Path conducted this study using a representative sample of more than 2.5 billion  promotional email messages sent to consumers around the world between April 2015 and June 2016. Global and regional statistics are based on performance across more than 140 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. To find out more about Return Path Email Optimization, Email Fraud Protection, and Consumer Insight solutions, visit us at or request a demo.