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Global Deliverability Dips: Return Path

By Ken Magill
Just 79 percent of permission-based email marketing messages are making it into email inboxes in 2015, according to a study released today by email security, intelligence and deliverability firm Return Path.
The rest were delivered to spam folders or weren’t delivered, according to Return Path.
This represents a decline from 2014 when 83 percent of commercial email reached the inbox worldwide, according to Return Path.
American email marketers fared even worse than the global average, reaching their subscribers’ inboxes only 76 percent of the time, according to Return Path. Only one country included in the study, Brazil, fared worse than the U.S., with 74 percent of messages reaching Brazilian consumers inboxes, Return Path reported.
Historically, Return Path’s non-delivered findings have always hovered around the one-in-five range. So this isn’t necessarily an earth-shattering announcement.
Still, it is disconcerting that with all the technological improvements and services available to email marketers, they have yet to significantly improve their deliverability overall.
“Last year we saw an increase, then this year we saw a decline to 79 percent,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research for Return Path.
“A lot of the mailbox providers have become really sophisticated at determining what emails people want,” he said.
Alarmingly for marketers with a lot of Yahoo! addresses on their files, Sather added that Return Path detected a 13 percent drop in the email messages reaching Yahoo! inboxes.
“I think this is a direct result of Yahoo! moving more towards a more engagement-based filtering model,” Sather said.
The inbox-placement news isn’t so dismal for all industry sectors, however. The food-and-beverage sector achieved a 93 percent inbox-placement rate, according to Return Path. The apparel sector achieved a 92 percent inbox placement rate, according to Return Path. 
Meanwhile, media and entertainment and telecommunications struggled with 73 percent and 74 percent inbox-placement rates, respectively, according to Return Path.
“The inbox is becoming harder to reach partly because mailbox providers are applying increasingly sophisticated algorithms to understand what content their users truly value,” said Return Path president George Bilbrey in a statement. “As signals from individual subscribers play a bigger role in determining whose messages they see in their inboxes, email marketers that maintain their ability to consistently reach audiences will be distinguished by two critical, data-driven skills. The winners will analyze subscriber engagement to develop email programs that consumers genuinely care about, and they will rely on reputation and deliverability data to see their email performance as mailbox providers see it, and take fast action to correct downward trends.”
Read the whole report here.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Richard H. Levey
Date: 2015-10-14 12:40:19
Subject: Quo Vadis Email?

Interesting statistics from Return Path. A few questions: What constitutes delivered? Consumers are increasingly embracing Gmail addresses, and Gmail accounts segment incoming messages into Primary, Social, and Promotions categories (as well as into Spam folders). Might the decline in delivery rates be partly due to a re-categorization of messages among these recipients? The Gmail effect might also account for the drop in Yahoo address deliverability. Are consumers abandoning their Yahoo addresses in favor of newer Gmail ones, causing Yahoo addresses to be less curated? While not necessarily a proof of concept, it would be interesting to know whether Brazilian consumers have embraced Gmail in greater proportions than U.S. consumers. Two final questions: Which countries are experiencing better than the 79 percent worldwide average, and -- more important -- what are the food-and-beverage and apparel sectors doing that the other sectors aren't?
Posted by: Dylan
Date: 2015-10-13 16:58:40
Subject: Wow

It's time for industry standards for delivery. I think this was a problem 5 years a go, no wait, maybe 10 years a go. I would go back further, but I would hate to show my age.