ReturnPath Study Shows Keys to Most Effective Trends in Email Marketing

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

From the moment you press send on an email marketing campaign, email servers are measuring and tracking a wide range of factors to determine whether or not an email gets delivered. ReturnPath recently released its third annual report on email deliverability. The report had several interesting takeaways about how to make email marketing more effective.

The third annual “The Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability” report provides sector-specific results for email marketing metrics including read rate, reply rate, forward rate, and complaint rate. When taken together, these metrics provide critical insights about subscriber engagement and play a role in determining whether email reaches the inbox. According to ReturnPath, industries that outperformed the average in these metrics also saw less email delivered to spam.

Improving email deliverability is vital for the success of modern email marketing campaigns, as more marketing emails are ending up in spam folders. According to the research from ReturnPath, overall spam placement increased, rising from 12.5% in 2016 to 13.5% in 2017. This is the second year in a row with an increase in overall spam placement.

However, there was some good news. The researchers at ReturnPath noted that this increase is offset by the fact that consumers are now more likely to rescue wanted mail from the spam folder. This is more than just speculation, the increased in rescued mail is demonstrated by the significant year over year increase in the “this is not spam” rate (1.77 percent in 2017 versus 1.04 percent in 2016).

The report also had mixed signals about how consumers are responding to email marketing messages. On the one hand, the report found that subscribers read email at a slightly lower rate than last year (21.5 percent in 2017, 22.2 percent in 2016). But as a positive, mail that is ignored (or “deleted before reading”) was also slightly less common than a year ago (11.9 percent in 2017, 12.5 percent in 2016).

A key takeaway from the report is that the way subscribers engage with email marketing messages greatly influences the way email servers handle messages from marketers in the future. As was mentioned at the outset, emails that perform well with customer engagement metrics are treated as coming from higher-quality senders.

“In recent years, subscriber engagement signals have become a critical factor in filtering out unwanted email—especially at major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo. These providers are constantly looking to improve their customer experience and refine their ability to deliver only wanted messages to the inbox,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path in a press statement. “Engagement data can also provide unique insights to help marketers improve deliverability and enhance customer relationships. But unfortunately, many marketers don’t track these metrics, and may not even be aware that they’re available.”

The report from ReturnPath is based on data from millions of emails and has a lot of interesting information business owners and marketers can use. The complete “Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability” report can be found here.

For more recent research that can help business owners and marketers succeed, read this article on how lack of consumer trust can delay online purchases.

Share This Article