New Research Shows Strong Correlation Between Subscriber Engagement and Spam Placement

Mar 14, 2017

Return Path released the second annual email engagement benchmark report. The Hidden Metrics of of Email Deliverability provides sector-specific results for email marketing metrics like read rate, reply rate, forward rate, and complaint rate, which measure consumers’ level of engagement with the email they receive. Overall, industries that outperformed the average in these metrics also saw less email delivered to spam.

Among the key findings from this report:

  • Although overall spam placement increased slightly year over year (13% in 2016 vs 12% in 2015), positive engagement metrics like read rate, reply rate, and forward rate also saw significant improvement.
  • Industries with the lowest spam rate (banking/finance, distribution & manufacturing, travel, and utilities) also exceeded nearly every benchmark for subscriber engagement.
  • The amount of email delivered to the spam folder ranged from just 6% (banking/finance and distribution & manufacturing) to 24% (automotive). Automotive also had the worst spam placement of 2015 (28%).
  • Overall read rate increased by 8% year over year, and every industry saw an increase in read rate compared with 2015. Industries with the highest read rate were distribution & manufacturing (58%) and utilities (57%). By comparison, the best read rate of 2015 was 47% (utilities).
  • Subscribers took a more active role this year in separating wanted mail from unwanted mail. The overall “deleted without reading” rate rose from 9% in 2015 to 13% in 2016, while the “this is not spam” rate (which measures how often a subscriber retrieves a message from the spam folder and marks it as “not junk” jumped from just 0.03% in 2015 to 1.04% in 2016.

Report findings are drawn from more than 5 billion commercial emails received in 2016. The report analysis is broken down by industry sector, allowing marketers to compare their own subscriber engagement against their industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement—ultimately leading to better deliverability and marketing ROI.