Market Overview

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.

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

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, visit us at
or request
a demo

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