Adam T. Sutton

Email Deliverability: Global stats show North America leads — but we have work to do

November 1st, 2011

I enjoy contributing to webinars. They give me a chance to immerse myself in research and talk shop. They also force me to shut off Outlook, Skype and anything else that might distract me, which is great when we have a good co-presenter. I can give them my undivided attention (which frankly isn’t possible when I’m an attendee).

Last week, I had the pleasure of co-presenting a webinar on email deliverability with Tom Sather, Director of Professional Services at Return Path, the webinar’s sponsor. Sather is a top-shelf deliverability expert, and he presented data from a global study his team conducted during the first half of this year. I was glad I paid attention.

Sather noted the average inbox placement rate (the percentage of emails sent that make it to the inbox) is somewhat low across the globe.

Global deliverability stats

  • 81% inbox placement rate
  • 7% spam placement rate
  • 12% missing rate

This data was compiled from about 140 ISPs across the globe, Sather mentioned. As you can see from the webinar slide below, emails in North America fared a little better in the study.


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The global and North American inbox placement rates have remained steady for nearly a decade, Sather said. So what is pulling down the global average?


Click to enlarge


North American companies have had a greater awareness of email deliverability for a longer period of time than many companies in Central and South America, Sather said. Sending emails to or from these regions is a newer concept for companies, which helps explain the lower rates.

Email marketers in China have government regulations to contend with, including one that forces them to include the word “ad” in their subject lines, Sather said. Many factors contribute to the region’s extremely low inbox placement rates.


Don’t put your feet up

North American email marketers have it made, right? Why bother with deliverability? Just imagine what Baidu is going through in China! We’ve got it made!

Not quite. Sather noted the North American inbox placement rate of 86% is hardly worth bragging over. In fact, he’s surprised it’s not higher.

“The term ‘deliverability’ and the concept have been around for probably a decade now. North American marketers are probably, let’s face it, a little more sophisticated than the rest of the world, especially in emerging markets. So I would expect this to be much higher,” he said.

The truth is that low inbox placement or delivery rates are a big opportunity. You have probably worked for years to improve results despite these stats. By following a few best practices and maintaining a good relationship with your subscribers, you can start to bring more of your emails to the inbox. Check out the links listed below for resources to help improve your rates.


Related Resources:

Webinar Replay — How to Increase Your Email Deliverability in 2012

Webinar Replay — Improve Email Deliverability: Tactics for Handling Complaints and Boosting Reputation

Email Deliverability: 6 tactics achieve near-perfect delivery rate for local deals site

Email Marketing: How Publishers Clearing House uses “blacklisted” words yet achieves a 99.2% delivery rate

Marketing Research Chart: Email deliverability metrics improving … slightly

Email Deliverability: Always test emails that link to third-party sites

Email Marketing: How to capture high-quality subscribers and avoid an inactive list

Email Deliverability: How a marketing vendor with 99 percent delivery rates treats single opt-in lists vs. double opt-in lists

Return Path


Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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