U.S. Email Marketers ‘Fared Worse’: 21 Percent of Commercial Messages Went to Spam — or Oblivion

U.S. Email Marketers ‘Fared Worse’ 21 Percent of Commercial Messages Went to Spam -- or OblivionWhile many surveys show consumers still appreciate email from brands and marketers (especially if personalized), the trip isn’t always guaranteed for those business missives.

In fact, a recent study by global data solutions firm Return Path showed that only 79 percent of permissioned email marketing messages reached consumers’ inboxes.

“The rest were delivered to spam folders or weren’t delivered at all,” according to the company. “This represents a decline over 2014 when 83 percent of commercial email reached the inbox worldwide.”

Sadly for U.S. marketers, the states fared worse.

“(U.S. email marketers reach) their subscribers’ inboxes only 76 percent of the time,” explained Return Path. “Only one country included in the study, Brazil, represented a more difficult email marketing challenge, with 74 percent of messages reaching Brazilian consumers inboxes.”

Some highly email-dependent sectors bucked the poor inbox placement trend this year: messages from brands in the apparel (92 percent), food and beverage (93 percent), hospitality (87 percent), and travel (85 percent) industries reached consumers more reliably than others.

Media and entertainment messages (73 percent) and telecommunications email (74 percent) senders ranked lower.

“The inbox is becoming harder to reach partly because mailbox providers are applying increasingly sophisticated algorithms to understand what content their users truly value,” said Return Path President George Bilbrey.

It’s going to take direct action, according to Bilbrey.

“As signals from individual subscribers play a bigger role in determining whose messages they see in their inboxes, email marketers that maintain their ability to consistently reach audiences will be distinguished by two critical, data-driven skills,” he advised. “The winners will analyze subscriber engagement to develop email programs that consumers genuinely care about, and they will rely on reputation and deliverability data to see their email performance as mailbox providers see it, and take fast action to correct downward trends.”

Return Path’s “2015 Deliverability Benchmark Report,” with inbox placement statistics by country and by industry, can be downloaded in full here.