The Seven Hidden Measures Of Email Deliverability

Emails are ending up in the spam older at an increasing rate — 13.5% last year versus 12% in 2015. And there has been a decline in the overall read rate. But fewer consumers ignored their emails in 2017, and were more likely to mark marketing messages as “this is not spam,” according to The 2018 Hidden Metrics Of Email Deliverability, a study released on Wednesday by Return Path. 

Return Path analyzed data from more than 5.5 billion commercial emails received in 2017. It defined what it calls the seven key metrics as follows:

Spam placement rate — The number of emails that end up in the spam folder out of the total sent. The rate for all industries last year was 13.%. The highest rates — over 20% — were suffered by the education/nonprofit/government and social & dating sectors, while some of the lowest by the distribution & manufacturing, banking & finance, insurance and general merchandise fields. The pet and office supplies industries saw the highest growth rates — 4.4% compared with 2016.



Read Rate — The number of emails “read” out of all those sent. The general average fell by 0.7 percentage points in 2017, and the general decline affected all segments, with the worst hits taken by the service and office supplies industries. The only increases were seen by the insurance, automotive and telecommunications businesses. 

Delete Before Reading Rate — Also known as the “ignore” rate, it is the number of emails deleted before reading out of the number sent. This declined by 0.6% last year. The largest decline was seen by the pet industry — 2.1%. But the telecommunications, business & marketing, social & dating and technology/software arena had higher rates.  

Reply Rate — The number of replies out of the total email sent. However, this can also include unsubscribes. The average rate went down by 0.02%, with the biggest falloff hitting the service (0.19%) and real estate (0.14%) industries. The only categories to see an increase were telecommunications and office supplies.

Forward Rate — The number of emails forwarded out of the total sent. The rate was either flat or slightly lower across all industries. The biggest hits were seen by real estate and distribution & manufacturing.

Complaint Rate — The number of “report spam/junk” complaints out of the total emails distributed. The rate fell from 0.19% in 2016 to 0.17% in 2017. But the office supplies industry saw an increase of 0.76% last year, compared with 0.38% in 2016. The health & beauty and toys/hobbies/craft segments saw the biggest improvement.

“This is Not Spam” Rate — The number of times a recipient marks an email as “this is not spam” out of the total sent. All industries saw a hike last year — an average of 0.73%. The average went from 1.77% in 2017 versus 1.04% in 2016).The largest increases were in the general merchandise and flowers & gifts segments.

The takeaway? That “subscriber engagement signals have become a critical factor in filtering out unwanted email — especially at major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo.,” states Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path.

He adds that engagement data can 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.”

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