New Research from Return Path Demonstrates Link Between Subscriber Engagement and Reduced Spam Placement

Feb 28, 2019


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Return Path has released the annual email engagement benchmark report. The Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability provides sector-specific results for email marketing metrics like read rate, reply rate, forward rate, complaint rate, and more. Collectively, these metrics provide critical insights about subscriber engagement, which plays a significant role in determining whether email reaches the inbox. According to this report, industries that consistently outperformed the average in these metrics also saw less email delivered to spam.

Report findings are drawn from more than 6.9 billion commercial emails received in 2018. The report’s analysis is broken down by industry sector, allowing marketers to compare their own subscriber engagement metrics against industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement—ultimately leading to better deliverability and marketing ROI.

Among the key findings from this report:

  • Reversing the upward trend of the past two years, overall spam placement decreased by five percentage points (9% in 2018 compared to 14% in 2017).

  • Overall, subscribers took a more active role in managing their inboxes in 2018 compared to 2017. Read rate increased slightly from 22% to 24%, spam complaints more than doubled from 0.17% to 0.39%, and the “deleted without reading” rate jumped from 12% to 16%. 

  • Industries with the lowest spam placement rate (banking and finance, distribution and manufacturing, and insurance) also outperformed nearly every benchmark for subscriber engagement. Brands in these sectors tend to have account-based relationships with their subscribers, which provides some explanation for the stronger engagement.

  • The amount of email relegated to the spam folder varied significantly by industry, from just 4% for senders in distribution and manufacturing to 19% for those in the education/nonprofit/government sector. These two verticals also claimed the top and bottom spots, respectively, in 2017.


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