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B2C Email Delivery Rates Down Sharply, B2B Up

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Despite historic declines in commercial email deliverability rates during the second quarter of 2011, business email inbox placement rates (IPRs) surged 6 percentage points to 86% over the same period, from 80% six months earlier, according to a report by Return Path.

Below, additional findings from Return Path's Global Email Deliverability Benchmark report for the second half of 2011.

B2C Email Delivery Down

After holding steady for three years, worldwide commercial email IPRs declined sharply in the second half of 2011: 76.5% of all permission-based commercial emails were delivered straight to recipients' inboxes during the period, down 4.5 percentage points from the 81% six months earlier. The balance (23.5%) fell prey to spam or junk folders (8.4%) or simply went missing (blocked by ISP-level filtering) (15.1%).


There are three primary reasons for the decline, according to Return Path:

  1. ISPs are being much more stringent with filtering and blocking.
  2. Marketers' sender reputations are deteriorating.
  3. Consumers are suffering from email overload and taking actions that negatively impact sender's reputations.

Deliverability rates do vary by region, however.

Commercial Email Declines Sharpest in North America

Though commercial email delivery performance in North America (US and Canada) remained slightly higher than world averages (79.3% vs. 76.5%), the dips recorded in 2H11 were sharpest in the US and Canada:

  • In the US, IPRs fell 5.7 points to 80.8% in 2H11, from 86.5% six months earlier. Spam folder delivery increased 30% (vs. 1H11) to 9.9%, while missing emails increased 57% to 9.4%.
  • Canadian IPRs were 76.7% in 2H11, down 8.5 points from 85.2%. Canada also recorded a large 25% increase in spam folder delivery. Blocked emails increased a staggering 65% over the six month period, with 20.1% of emails in Canada being rejected and never reaching the inbox or the spam folder.

B2B Delivery Performance Stronger

Worldwide business email performance was stronger in the second half of the year:

  • Delivery into enterprise mail systems increased to 86% in 2H11, up 6 points from 80% six months earlier. 
  • The proportion of B2B email landing in spam folders fell 6 points, to 2% in 2H11, from 8% in 1H11.
  • The proportion of B2B email that went missing stayed nearly flat at 11% over the six-month period, down 1 point from 12% in 1H11.

About the data: Findings are based on email data from 149 ISPs (Internet service providers) worldwide (North America, Central and Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Asia-Pacific territories) and 600,000 email campaigns conducted from July to December, 2011.


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  • by Chris K Thu Mar 22, 2012 via web

    Great report Return Path. The results yet again reinforce several important points for email marketers to consider when working to improve or maintain good deliverability. First, work with a ESP who can help consult you on correct authentication, bounce processing, spam complaint removals and permission. The process to removing spam complaints is key in showing to ISPs that you are a reputable sender who sends legitimate messages. It also reinforces that email marketers should stay up to date with the changing face of email deliverability or work with partners who keep up with the industry. I recently attended a MAAWG meeting and came away with lots of great takeaways that I shared with my clients. It's important that email marketers continue to monitor their deliverability and make the necessary changes/tweaks to assure good deliverability. The report also should remind marketers that above all permission and engagement are key to good deliverability. Receiving explicit permission from subscribers, setting sending expectations (how often, what type of content, etc), and maintaining expectations will be extremely important in helping to build and sustain a good subscriber relationship

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