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Deliverability Still a Problem for Email Marketers

September 26, 2011

Some 81% of all permission-based commercial emails worldwide were delivered straight to recipients' inboxes in the first half of 2011, while the balance of messages (19%) either fell prey to spam or junk folders (7%) or simply went missing (blocked by ISP-level filtering) (12%), according to a report from Return Path:


Below, other findings from ReturnPath's 1H11 Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report.

Email performance in North America was stronger, recording an 86.01% inbox placement rate (IPR) for permission-based commercial emails in 1H11, with the remaining 14% of email messages not reaching the inbox, either marked as junk  (5.62%) or going missing (8.35%). 

Canada recorded a relatively higher rate (12.2%) of email going missing, whereas the US recorded a higher percentage of email delivered to spam boxes (7.56%).

Looking for solid, substantiated information about email from the industry's best resources? The 67-page Email Marketing Factbook featuring 39 charts tells you about email usage, what captures users' attention, and how organizations are using email to reach customers. This email factbook consists of chapters 1 & 2 from the larger Digital Marketing Factbook a 144-page compilation of data and 110 charts that also covers search engine marketing and social media.

Business email marketers also faced deliverability issues: 80% of all permission-based messages reached business inboxes in 1H11 (managing to penetrate enterprise-level filtering systems such as Postini, Symantec, and MessageLabs).

However, that percentage is a 5% improvement over results reported in 2009, when just 75.2% of email messages made it to business inboxes.

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  • by Bill Kaplan Mon Sep 26, 2011 via web

    The three leading factors affecting email deliverability haven't changed in over 5 years: excessive spam complaints, excessive bounces, existence of spam traps or honeypot addresses.

    Given that the vast majority of email deliverability issues stem from hygiene problems with the underlying list, marketers can solve their deliverability issues by following a few best practices:

    1) Clean and correct problematic and invalid email addresses prior to entering these into your marketing database. This can be done with a Real-time Email Address Correction Technology (REACT) for your web site or web-enabled POS system or call center or it can be performed through a periodic batch or cloud-based email hygiene and correction service. It's much cheaper and easier to catch these problems on the front end rather than having to solve blocking and blacklisting issues after they've occurred. For more details on the cost of poor email address registrations practices, see "Top E-Tailers Lose Millions Through Poor Email Validation Practices" -

    2) Clean their email address files on a regular basis (every three to six months) to help purge problematic email addresses that have somehow otherwise made their way into their files.

    3) Perform an ECOA service on your bouncing and inactive email addresses on a quarterly basis. With annual email address churn rates in the 30% range, even companies with the most loyal customers and donors will lose touch with a significant number of their subscribers on a regular basis. An ECOA service can help you reconnect with 20%-30+% of these ‘lost’ subscribers through a simple and cost-effective quarterly process.

    Email deliverability issues and possible blocking and blacklisting problems clearly continue to plague leading marketers. A little work upfront will go a long way to solving these problems. With the holiday season right upon us, now's the time to make this small investment so you can best leverage your email marketing investments and maximize your sales.

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