20 Percent of Emails Never Reach the Inbox

Email can be one of the best performing channels available to digital marketers. That is, if you can get those emails delivered to the recipient.

New research from Return Path, however, reveals that just 80 percent of commercial email is being delivered to the inbox with the remaining being diverted to spam folders or blocked altogether by Internet service providers.


The report's findings are relatively consistent with the company's 2016 and 2015 benchmarks, which reported a 79 percent global inbox placement rate. While this rate has improved slightly in the past year, according to Return Path, this significant and still-high percentage of filtered messages means that marketers continue to miss out on an opportunity to drive additional revenue from the email channel.


"Email remains the most popular and effective channel available to marketers, so it's more important than ever to get it right. If your emails aren't reaching the inbox, you're missing out on an opportunity to build relationships and generate ROI," said Return Path President George Bilbrey. "But email filtering continues to evolve, as mailbox providers apply increasingly sophisticated algorithms to deliver only the content their users truly want."


Other key findings from the Return Path survey include:


  • Email marketers in the U.S. saw the lowest inbox placement of any country analyzed, with just 77 percent of messages reaching subscribers-up from 73 percent in 2016.
  • Canadian marketers achieved one of the highest inbox placement rates in this study, with an average of 90 percent.
  • Marketers in European countries generally exceeded the global inbox placement rate, with averages of 82 percent (France and Spain) and 84 percent (UK). 
  • For the second year in a row, Australian marketers maintained average inbox placement of 90 percent-tied with Canada for the best result in this study.