Audience/Marketing Data & Data Enhancement, Data Management

Global Inbox Placement is Rising, but Fifteen Percent of Worldwide Commercial Email Still Falls Short

Return Path’s 2018 Deliverability Benchmark report finds global inbox placement has increased by five percentage points year over year.
Email Marketing

NEW YORK, August 14, 2018 — According to new research from data solutions provider Return Path, nearly one in six commercial emails worldwide fails to reach its intended target. The 2018 Deliverability Benchmark report reveals that 85 percent of email was delivered to the inbox over the past 12 months. While this represents an increase of five percentage points over the 2017 global inbox placement average, a full 15 percent of email is still being diverted to spam folders or blocked altogether.

After three years of relatively static inbox placement worldwide (80 percent in 2017; 79 percent in 2016 and 2015), the report’s findings show this year’s improvement was largely driven by inbox placement gains in North America and Europe. However, the significant percentage of filtered messages means that marketers are still missing out on a valuable opportunity to drive meaningful revenue from the email channel.

“Marketers around the world rely on email. It’s no surprise, given that email generates an average of 38 dollars in revenue for every dollar spent,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path. “We’re thrilled to see inbox placement rates on the rise, but marketers need to realize that even 15 percent of email missing the inbox is too much. With every email that fails to reach its intended recipient, brands lose the opportunity to connect with customers and ultimately make a sale.”

Email marketers in the US saw strong gains in inbox placement over the last 12 months, with 83 percent of messages reaching subscribers. While this result falls short of the global average, it represents an increase of six percentage points over the previous period (77 percent in 2017). Meanwhile, inbox placement in Canada remained relatively steady and ranked among the highest in this study at 89 percent, compared to 90 percent in 2017.


Other key findings from the report include:

->While marketers in Mexico exceeded the worldwide inbox placement average at 88 percent, poor performance elsewhere in the region brought average inbox placement in Latin America down to 78 percent.

->Inbox placement in Europe increased three percentage points year over year, from 83 percent in 2017 to 86 percent in 2018. Contributing to these results were several countries with inbox placement above 90 percent, including Belgium (91 percent), Greece (93 percent), Ireland (92 percent), Norway (93 percent), and Portugal (93 percent).

  • Most countries in the Asia-Pacific region outperformed the global inbox placement average, including Australia (89 percent), Hong Kong (88 percent), Japan (89 percent), New Zealand (90 percent), and Singapore (90 percent). However, inbox placement of just 57 percent in China lowered the region’s average to 78 percent.
  • Looking at inbox placement by industry, the best results were found in sectors with strong account-based consumer relationships such as banking & finance (96 percent), distribution & manufacturing (96 percent), and travel (94 percent). Across the board, every industry saw an increase in inbox placement compared to the previous period.

This annual benchmark report from Return Path examines how email is delivered and how inbox placement is measured, along with global, regional, and industry benchmark results by quarter. The complete 2018 Deliverability Benchmark Report can be downloaded.


Return Path conducted this study using a representative sample of more than 2 billion promotional email messages sent to consumers around the world between July 2017 and June 2018. Global and regional statistics are based on performance across more than 140 mailbox providers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions. Country and industry statistics are based on a subset of senders whose locations and industry classifications are identifiable.

Return Path panel data is captured from monitored email accounts controlled by real subscribers to sample user-initiated engagement based filtering decisions by mailbox providers. Panel data can uncover behavior based factors and thresholds that influence inbox placement at large mailbox providers, and can’t be identified by non-interactive seeds.

Industry results are based on global panel data consisting of more than 17,000 commercial senders, two million consumer panelists, and two billion commercial email messages sent to Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and AOL users in the same time period.

About Return Path

Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences and strengthen their customer engagement. We help mailbox providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam doesn’t. To find out more about Return Path solutions.

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