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Sharp Deliverability Declines in North America

Posted by Chris Winter on Oct 29, 2015, 3:45:00 PM

Email Deliverability in North America

In 2015, just 79% of commercial emails worldwide have made it to the inbox, according to Return Path. This means for every five emails sent, one never reaches the intended recipient. Instead, it ends up in a spam folder or goes missing—most likely blocked by the mailbox provider.

More surprising is the significant decrease in inbox placement rates (IPRs) for US and Canadian businesses. American businesses saw inbox placement rates drop from 87% in 2014 to just 76% in 2015, whereas in Canada, which typically lags the US in IPRs, was slightly better down from 83% in 2014 to 79% in 2015.

Why Deliverability Rates are Dropping

There are likely multiple factors contributing to this drop in global IPRs but there are a few primary issues. According to Return Path, commercial email volume has increased by 7% since 2014 and 16% since 2013. This surge in email volume, coupled with evolving spam tactics, has put mailbox providers to the test, who continue to refine their filtering technology. This process isn’t perfect, and many mailbox providers will undoubtedly catch a certain portion of legitimate email in the process.

Best Practices for Above Average Deliverability Rates

Averages are just that – they’re average. Leading marketers don’t measure themselves against the averages but rather against industry bests. IPRs under 90% should still be considered too low for top marketers as 10% of messages aren’t reaching their intended target; this can have a significant negative impact on your metrics. Email leaders (who have a plan) typically obtain IPRs of more than 95%. Good deliverability requires constant vigilance and discipline. Marketers should continue to look for ways to engage their subscribers so that a greater percentage of their messages make it to the inbox.

6 Tips For Above Average Email Deliverability

  1. Improve your data collection tactics. The collection process is the source of all your data to work from, so good data in = good data out. Publish an easy to find Privacy Policy and state up front how you plan to use your subscriber’s personal information.
  2. Ensure content and coding is flawless. Mistakes in your content or code can affect delivery and have a negative impact on your program. Avoid using services like bitly and IP addresses in your URLs in order to improve your deliverability.
  3. Always authenticate your email - ALL OF IT!  Using SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can protect your consumers from fraudulent emails, phishing, and spam.
  4. Test the frequency of mailings. Determine the optimal send time and number of communications per week. Over-mailing can be just as dangerous to your list health and delivery as not mailing enough.
  5. Do some list cleaning. Start by reducing the frequency of messages to non-responsive users to test whether they can be coaxed into action. Consider launching a win back program before removing inactive subscribers. CASL requires the removal of implied consents after 24 months so you may as well since you aren’t gaining anything from mailing them. For more tips, download our whitepaper – “4 Simple Steps to Email List Cleaning.”
  6. Monitor your reputation.  Services like 250ok track your email/IP reputation, delivery rendering, and Inbox Placement Rates, while other services, like Agari, monitor your brand for abuse or spoofing. By using both of these tools, you can stay on top of your reputation.

Looking for more tips?

Keeping your email community growing and engaged is an increasingly important aspect to all email marketers. To help you do so we’ve put together a list of 9 Ways to Help Build Your Subscriber List.


Topics: Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

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