Study: Email deliverability rates stagnate at 81%

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Only 81% of emails sent during the first half of 2011 reached consumers' inboxes, according to a study released by email deliverability services firm Return Path on Sept. 20. The "Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report, 1H 2011” found that 7% of emails worldwide were classified as spam and 12% were missing.

Tom Sather, director of professional services at Return Path, said that worldwide deliverability rates didn't improve since the firm's last report in 2009 but that North American deliverability rates increased by 4%.

North American deliverability rates hit 86% during the first half of 2011 with 6% of emails filtered as spam and 8% never reaching a consumer's inbox despite being received by the email provider.

Sather said that marketers need to more closely examine their reported deliverability rates because they can fail to take into account whether an email provider delivered a message to a consumer's inbox.

The email providers “may be accepting it but not actually delivering it to the inbox. So it creates this perception that their delivered rate, which their [email service providers] may be telling them is 98%, isn't actually true,” he said.

Return Path tracked more than 600,000 email campaigns worldwide from January through June for the study.

Return Path also examined deliverability rates to Gmail accounts after Google implemented its "priority inbox" program. Looking at 30,000 Gmail inboxes between July 1 and Aug. 10, Return Path found that 81% of the selected inboxes had priority inbox enabled and that 17% of inbox messages were classified in the priority inbox. Sather said that the priority inbox classification can serve as a quality score for email marketers. The company also observed that, on average, 91% of emails reached a consumer's inbox with 9% missing.

“The end goal is emails being classified as priority,” Sather said.

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