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. 

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of nearly 1 trillion messages sent through more than 150 mailbox providers during the first six months of 2013.

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22% of Opt-in Emails Not Reaching Inboxes

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a writer, editor, and a content strategist. He is a co-founder of ICW Media and a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji