How return paths deliverability report affects email marketers

ReturnPath Experts in Email Certification, Deliverability & Reputation

Return Path – the experts in email certification, deliverability and reputation – have released the results of their Global Email Deliverability Benchmark for the second half of 2011, proving that deliverability is still a big issue.

The research highlights how the rates at which emails reach the inbox have slumped to 76.5% in the second half of 2011. Compare this to the first half’s results, which saw the rate peak at 81%.

The drop has largely been attributed to an increase in complaints where subscribers report email as spam instead of unsubscribing and also stricter measures by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) regarding the emails they allow through their spam filters. This together with drastic fluctuations in the volume of email being sent makes getting emails to the inbox successfully a real challenge for email marketers.


Email Blocked & Flagged as Spam increases by 24%

Globally, fewer emails are being delivered to the inbox as more communications are being flagged as spam by users or being blocked by receiving servers and ISPs. ”Spam folder placement was recorded at 8.4% and emails not being delivered, or essentially being blocked by ISP-level filters, came in at 15.1% – that’s 20% worse when compared to the first half of 2011.” Return PathGlobal Email Deliverability Benchmark

The rates for Europe, the Middle East and Africa indicate that 15% of emails aren’t being delivered with 5% of non-delivered emails identified as spam and the other 10% as being blocked by ISPs. This is an indication of increasingly vigilant and stricter control around spam by ISPs accounting for the non-delivery of emails, even those of legitimate email marketers sending to subscribers who’ve opted in to receive email.


Sending Reputation, Whitelisting & ISPs

ISPs constantly adjust their filtering rules and monitor subscriber complaints as well as sending volumes to assess your sender reputation. Due to the sensitivity of ISP spam filters that can detect high volume changes, any increases in subscriber complaints and an inexplicable increase in sending volumes is picked up. Email marketers typically experience deliverability issues when volumes fluctuate drastically in peak periods over the festive or holiday season.

Top 3 reasons for deliverability issues:

  • ISPs are more rigorous with filtering and blocking
  • Email users are reporting email as spam instead of unsubscribing
  • Sender reputations are deteriorating

Many ISPs rely on whitelisting to help separate responsible senders from spammers. By becoming a certified sender and part of a whitelist, chances of email being delivered to the inbox dramatically increase. Sending reputation can be negatively impacted by sending to a bought list where contacts have not given permission to receive any email. This has a knock on effect resulting in high spam complaints and blacklisting.

Subscriber complaints and volume fluctuations in the amount of email you’re sending affects this, explaining why when using a bought database and there’s a sudden spike in your volumes, ISPs are motivated to blacklist senders giving email marketers a negative sending reputation with poor deliverability – if any.

With users opting in to more email, the challenge is dealing with all of it once it reaches the inbox. This email overload coupled with 75% subscribers using the ‘report junk’ to unsubscribe from emails they opted into creates a potential delivery issue.

”Each ISP has their own spam and reputation-based filters based on their own users’ feedback in combination with third-party spam filters that have their own set of rules as well. ISPs also use metrics that are generally unavailable to marketers and are constantly using new data to improve the accuracy of their filters. Without the proper monitoring tools to account for these changes, deliverability will continue to be an extremely challenging area.” Return PathGlobal Email Deliverability Benchmark.


Improve Inbox Placement in 2012

At Everlytic we constantly monitor and improve our sending reputation by checking blacklists for clients. As an Email Service Provider it’s in our best interests and yours to maximise sending reputation and is one of the reasons we partnered with Return Path.

The onus is on email marketers however, to manage sending reputations by operating according to industry best practice. Maintain low complaint rates by using only opted-in, permission based email marketing and not buying lists. Clean lists with updated information such as invalid email address, managing bounces and unsubscribes are must-haves to enhance deliverability. Because a high complaint rate can cause delivery issues it is critical to have a prominently placed, functional unsubscribe link in any email marketing communication to lower the complaint rate.

”Not only are the rules of deliverability complex, they’re also always changing. The “cat and mouse” game between spammers and ISPs and spam filtering companies ensures that there will always be new methods to sort the good from the bad.” Return Path, Global Email Deliverability Benchmark

Check that content is relevant and limit the frequency accordingly by segmenting the database. It’s fine if some subscribers want to receive a daily email but consider those who prefer a monthly update.

Everlytic is subscribed to complaint feedback loops with all of the major ISPs, allowing us to monitor complaints made available in our reporting. We are constantly working with ISPs to monitor deliverability rates and resolve any blacklists that arise. For the best deliverability results we offer our customers whitelisting with Return Path.

By becoming part of the Return Path whitelist, our clients’ email marketing campaigns will receive special privileges at over 2.1 billion inboxes worldwide and become part of the largest and broadest white list in the e-mail universe. View Return Path’s full report

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