Research Finds Email Senders with Strong Subscriber Engagement Are Likely to See Less Email Delivered to Spam

Feb 27, 2018


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

Among the key findings from this report:

  • For the second consecutive year, overall spam placement increased, rising from 12% in 2015 to 12.5% in 2016, and now 13.5% in 2017.
  • The increase in spam placement is somewhat offset by the fact that consumers were more likely than ever to “rescue” wanted mail from the spam folder, as demonstrated by the significant year over year increase in the “this is not spam” rate (1.77% in 2017 versus 1.04% in 2016).
  • Industries with the lowest spam placement rate (banking and finance, distribution and manufacturing, and insurance) also outperformed nearly every benchmark for subscriber engagement.
  • The amount of email delivered to the spam folder varied significantly by industry, from just 3.5% for senders in distribution and manufacturing to 23.7% for education/nonprofit/government.
  • Subscribers read email at a slightly lower rate than last year (21.5% in 2017, 22.2% in 2016), but mail that is ignored (or “deleted before reading”) was also slightly less common than a year ago (11.9% in 2017, 12.5% in 2016).

Report findings are drawn from more than 5.5 billion commercial emails received in 2017. The report analysis is broken down by industry sector, allowing marketers to compare their own subscriber engagement against industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement—ultimately leading to better deliverability and marketing ROI.