Marketers relying solely on electronic communication - even those using opt-in and verified lists - are in for a rude awakening when they measure effectiveness. According to a study by Return Path, more than some 21% of permissioned emails from legitimate senders around the world failed to reach the inbox during the year-long period from May 2014 to April 2015. That’s up from 17% during the previous year-long period, according to Return Path’s latest study on this topic. The average U.S. inbox placement rate saw a sharp decline from 87% to 76%, meaning almost 1 in every 4 commercial emails fails to reach the inbox. Interestingly, the report shows inbox placement rates were high for Gmail, but only when emails were routed to the Promotions tab. Campaigns attempting to bypass the Promotions tab and deliver instead to the Primary tab experienced a much higher degree of routing to the spam folder, according to Return Path. The company recommends not fighting Google on this aspect, as read rates for the Promotions tab have exceeded 20%, suggesting the Promotions tab acts as “the equivalent of a shopping folder, where consumers actively searched for content they wanted.” How does Return Path come up with these estimates? The methodology is described here:
“Return Path conducted this study using a representative sample of more than 357 million commercial email messages sent with permission to consumers around the world between May 2014 and April 2015. Global and regional statistics are based on performance across more than 150 mailbox providers in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions. Country- and industry-specific statistics are based on a subset of senders whose locations and industry classifications are identifiable. Data in this study includes both seed accounts and live consumer inboxes. While the addition of behavioral data from real subscribers has added a critical dimension to inbox placement analysis, scalability and non-standardized preferences make it impossible to derive accurate results from consumer data alone.”
In analyzing the performance of various industries, the report notes the health and beauty sector has the highest inbox placement rate (96%), while technology has by far the lowest, plummeting from 70% last year to just 45% this year. The software and internet sector saw a large gain of 25 percentage points, but that was from last year’s low of 43%, bringing it up to a still-below-average 68% inbox placement rate. Clearly the lesson here is marketers must embrace a multi-faceted approach to reach customers; electronic communication may be relatively easy and cost-effective, but from an ROI standpoint, should be considered alongside traditional methods, not in place of them.
By Mark Pageau