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22% of Opt-in Emails Not Reaching Inboxes

by Ayaz Nanji  |  
August 5, 2013

Nearly a quarter (22%) of opt-in marketing emails never made it to inboxes in the first half of 2013, according to a recent study by Return Path.

Based on a sample of nearly 1 trillion messages sent worldwide, the report found that 18% of all email messages sent with subscribers' permission either were blocked or went missing, and another 4% were delivered to spam or junk folders.

Below, additional key findings from the Email Intelligence Report: Placement Benchmarks 2013.

Global Trends

  • Inbox Placement Rates (IPR)—the percentage of sent email delivered to addressees' inboxes—declined globally by 4% since 2012, according to the report. 
  • The Asia-Pacific region led the worldwide decline, slipping to an IPR of 64%. 
  • On the other hand, American senders slightly improved their IPR to 86%. 
  • European marketers had an IPR of 80%, lower than their North American counterparts, despite improvements in Germany and France. 
  • In South America, Brazilian marketers continued to struggle to reach subscribers, losing more than 40% of their email to blocking or spam folder delivery.

Rates by Industry

  • Several large industries, including retail, posted meaningful IPR gains in 2013. 
  • Social networks' IPR declined to 75%. 
  • Non-profit organizations improved their global IPR dramatically in 2013, placing 90% of their messages in subscribers' inboxes. 


  • 86% of American senders' messages reached the Gmail inbox. 
  • Reaching Gmail inboxes was far harder for senders from Brazil (53% IPR). 
  • Only 7% percent of all Gmail messages were routed to the Priority Inbox. 
  • Finance-related mail (17%) was more than twice as likely to reach Gmail's Priority Inbox, whereas social networks' mail (5%) was the least likely among major categories. 
  • Messages that were part of an active conversation, either replies (24%) or forwards (11%), also reached the Priority Inbox more often. 
  • Any message categorized as a "statement" was far more likely to reach the Priority Inbox (26%), but only 5% of those identified as "coupons" were found there. 

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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by Barry Dennis Tue Aug 6, 2013 via web

    It's interesting, isn't it? Direct mail lists get delivered 98-99% of the time,with (mostlly) approriate copy and design, including an offer, a call to action, something that relates as closely as posible to the target audience the sender had in mind. In today's marketplace the average cost of a single delivered piece is $.75, and depending on "drill down" targeting and design, could be up to $1.25 or more. Contrast to email which , even using brokered lists that have been cleaned, double opt-in, behavorially profiled, and "timed" for delivery, cost less than $.10 each. Internally compiled lists even less.
    However let's not forget some other facts; less than 70% of populace has an email address (closer to 50% active users), while 70%+ have Mobile, used multiple times every day. (E-messages to Mobile are coming on STRONG! Notre: FCC IS watching).
    But, that cost diffreential is such an element of consideration. Sure, you want all your messages delivered; sure you want them all opened, sure you want the stronmgest possible reaction and action from the recipient. But, even allowing for all the non-opens, and non-delivery, e-mail is still 75% more efficient, costwise, and therefore the substantially lower response rate overall may not be a detraction. In the end, all other things being equal, it;s still the Cost-Per-Order, The Lifetime Value (less than it used to be, for sure), and the Acquisition Cost that need analysis. What about the "reach" that Diect Mail practically ensures, while email is a percentage of total, at best.
    I'm one of those who believe that the value of the "touch" rests on great analysis of the target audience as to the tpe of touch that they will find most attractive. most compelling. And let's not forget as well that the Direct Mail piece generates more residual memory than email.
    Oh well, what's a Mass Marketing E-Mailer to do?.

  • by Gracious Store Tue Aug 6, 2013 via web

    Are there any know factors that contribute to the disparity of IPR of emails from various regions?

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