Analysis of 2 Billion Email Messages / Inbox Placement Results (2018)

In this year’s annual benchmark report by Return Path has helped us have a deep understanding of email deliverability. Let’s have a look at the key findings of this report for the email marketing benefits. 

What is email deliverability?

Analysis of 2 billion email messages youtube video image by popupsmart's youtube channel

Email deliverability visual example.

The report provides more than 2 billion promotional email messages that sent to consumers around the world between July 2017 and June 2018. 

We see the 12 months global, regional, and country inbox placement results, as well as inbox placement rates by industry and the top four mailbox providers in this report.  

Let’s have a look at the path to the inbox;

How Email Gets Delivered?

Emails start traveling from its point of origination, which refers to the point that it was composed, and with the help of the multiple servers they reach the destination point through the Internet. 

In this systematic process, emails are determined as trustworthy ones or doubtful ones. Most of them blocked on the gateway and never reach the spam folder or inbox folder. 

Multiple server illustration of email delivering.

If they pass the gateway; spam filters consider sender reputation, relevancy of the content and user engagement to decide whether to send them in the spam folder or inbox.

How to Measure Inbox Placement?

Return Path used two different sets of data to calculate inbox placement;

  • Seed Data 
  • Panel Data (Consumer Data)

Return Path uses seed data to check to see if seed addresses are delivered or went into the spam folder or inbox. They have hundreds of mailbox providers around the world so the numbers are huge. It’s a great way to measure missing or blocked emails with seed data. Global and country-specific inbox placement rates are calculated using seed data. 

Inbox placement visual example.

Panel data indicated the real world scenario. Return Path gathers email data and real-world information to understand subscriber engagement. They have more than 2 million users in their system and it’s a great chance to measure engagement data. In this study mailbox provider and industry-specific inbox placement are calculated with panel data.

Key Findings of Deliverability Benchmark Report

1. Global Inbox Placement

Average global inbox placement increased by 5% points this year. In the second quarter of 2018, the most significant increase came in with 7% points over the same period last year.

Graphic of average global inbox placement rate.

2. Inbox Placement in North America

North America deliverability was driven largely by increased inbox placement in the United States. Mails sent to US subscribers reached the inbox an average of 83% of the time. An increase of 6% percentage points over the previous period. The average inbox placement rate to Canadian mailboxes of 89% exceeded the global average.

Graphic of average inbox placement rate in North America.

3. Inbox Placement in Latin America

Latin America region dropped 3% percentage points this period for an average of 78%. Only Mexico was able to achieve deliverability above the global average.

Graphic of average inbox placement rate in Latin America.

4. Inbox Placement in Europe

Deliverability to European mailboxes rose slightly to an average inbox placement rate of 86%. Greece, Portugal, and Norway have Europe’s highest inbox placement at 93%, while Austrian mailboxes saw the lowest inbox placement of any European country (79%).

In Ireland, email deliverability rate increased 15% points for a new average of 92% inbox placement. However, mailboxes in Denmark and the Czech Republic saw the largest decline in deliverability among European countries with 3% points below the previous period.

Graphic of average inbox placement in Europe.

5. Inbox Placement in Asia-Pacific

In the previous reporting period, Asia-Pacific Region had 79% in inbox placement. This year they saw a slight decline in inbox placement with an average rate of 78%.

Senders in mailing to Singapore and New Zealand consumers helped bring up the regional average with inbox placement rates of 90% in both countries. Chinese mailboxes fell far below the global average with an average inbox placement rate of just 57%.

Graphic of average inbox placement rate in Asia-Pacific.

6. Global Inbox Placement at the Top Four Mailbox Providers

Marketers are successfully reaching mailboxes at AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo, seeing inbox placement rates above 90 every quarter. The outlook was a challenging mailbox for marketers to reach with a period average of just 75%.

Top four mailbox providers for global inbox placement.

7. Inbox Placement Rate by Industry

Across the board, every industry saw an increase in inbox placement compared to the previous period. Distribution & manufacturing and banking & finance had the highest inbox placement averages for the period at 96%, while education/nonprofit/government had the lowest inbox placement rate at 83%. The automotive industry saw the largest increase in inbox placement with %88 of email reaching subscribers’ inboxes—an increase of 11% points over the previous period.

Inbox placement rates by industry.

For more details, you can download the pdf version of 2018-Deliverability-Benchmark or visit

To prevent emails going to spam folder instead of inbox folder of the receiver, read this article on the link!

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