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Twenty Percent of Global Commercial Email Fails to Reach the Inbox

Return Path’s 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report finds global inbox placement remains relatively consistent at just 80 percent.

NEW YORK, August 8, 2017 — One in five commercial emails worldwide fails to reach its intended target, according to the 2017 Deliverability Benchmark Report from data solutions provider Return Path. This new research reveals that just 80 percent of email is delivered to the inbox, while the remainder—a full 20 percent—is diverted to spam folders or gets blocked altogether.

The report’s findings are relatively consistent with the company’s 2016 and 2015 benchmarks, which reported a 79 percent global inbox placement rate. While this rate has improved slightly in the past year, the significant percentage of filtered messages means that marketers are still missing out on a valuable opportunity to drive meaningful revenue from the email channel.

“Email remains the most popular and effective channel available to marketers, so it’s more important than ever to get it right. If your emails aren’t reaching the inbox, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI,” said Return Path President George Bilbrey. “But email filtering continues to evolve, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to deliver only the content their users truly want.”

Email marketers in the US saw the lowest inbox placement of any country analyzed, with just 77 percent of messages reaching subscribers—up from 73 percent in 2016. Meanwhile Canadian marketers achieved one of the highest inbox placement rates in this study, with an average of 90 percent.

Other key findings include:

  • Marketers in European countries generally exceeded the global inbox placement rate, with averages of 82 percent (France and Spain) and 84 percent (UK). Of the European countries studied, only Germany fell slightly below the global average with 79 percent inbox placement.
  • For the second year in a row, Australian marketers maintained average inbox placement of 90 percent—tied with Canada for the best result in this study.
  • Looking at inbox placement by industry, the best results were found in sectors with strong account-based consumer relationships such as banking & finance (94 percent), distribution & manufacturing (92 percent), and travel (90 percent).

This annual benchmark report from Return Path examines how email is delivered and how inbox placement is measured, along with global, regional, and industry benchmark results by quarter. The complete 2017 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 billion promotional email messages sent to consumers around the world between April 2016 and June 2017. Global and regional statistics are based on performance across more than 140 mailbox providers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions. Country and industry statistics are based on a subset of senders whose locations and industry classifications are identifiable. Industry results are based on global consumer data consisting of over 17,000 commercial senders, two million consumer panelists, and over two billion commercial email messages sent to Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and AOL users in the same time period.

Return Path Consumer Network data is captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user-initiated 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.

About Return Path
Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences and strengthen their customer engagement. Our data solutions help analysts understand consumer behavior and market trends. We 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 doesn’t. To find out more about Return Path solutions, visit us at or request a demo.