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E-mail Deliverability Experiences Historic Decline in Second Half of 2011

March 21, 2012

Return Path, an e-mail certification and reputation monitoring company, said the worldwide inbox placement rates (IPR) declined sharply in the second half of 2011, according to the company’s Global Email Deliverability Benchmark report.

Historically, IPR has remained steady at around 80% with one in five emails being delivered to the spam folder or blocked. For the first time in three years, Return Path has seen a major decline of 6% in the second half of 2011 bringing inbox placement rates to a record low of 76.5% globally, compared to 81% in the first half of 2011. While deliverability rates vary by region, Return Path research points to more stringent ISP filtering and blocking, deteriorating sender reputations and email overload as accounting for the historic decline. Return Path’s report also examines email deliverability across vertical industries, B2B and for Gmail’s Priority Inbox.

“The findings from our benchmark report show the effects of a perfect storm,” said Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path. “Clients are having difficulty in getting their emails delivered, ISPs are tightening requirements on reputation metrics and the number of companies using email to market continues to increase – we see both higher overall email volume and an influx of relatively unsophisticated senders – resulting in decreased inbox placement rates.”

Reasons for Decline
According to the study, reasons for the significant decline in IPR include ISPs raising the bar on reputation metrics, making it harder than ever for marketers to get into the inbox. ISPs are using metrics that are generally unavailable to marketers through traditional deployment platforms and leveraging new data to determine spam from not-spam. These metrics include engagement data, subscriber panel complaint data, and trusted subscriber data making deliverability extremely challenging for marketers not using data monitoring tools. Marketing metrics are also sliding in the wrong direction whether due to slashed marketing budgets, new staffing or reliance on third party ESPs for reputation monitoring. A third major reason for declining IPR is that consumers are overloaded, especially during the busy holiday period. Many consumers enthusiastically sign up for new emails, whether to access special deals, get interesting content or as part of a purchase process. When the emails arrive in the inbox the amount appears overwhelming, with consumers using the “report junk” button to unsubscribe from excess emails to cope with the avalanche.

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