Deliverability Benchmarks: A Spotlight on Europe – and the 15% of Email that Doesn't Get Delivered

Margaret Farmakis
By Margaret Farmakis
Senior Director, Response Consulting

The recently released Return Path Deliverability Benchmark report revealed that email deliverability problems plague marketers across the globe. European marketers, with an 85% inbox rate (messages delivered to subscribers’ inboxes) are slightly better off than their colleagues in North America who only make it to the inbox 80% of the time. Europeans are a bit worse off than their counter-parts in Asia-Pacific who get delivered 86% of the time.

Here are some key findings from major markets in Europe:

  • In the United Kingdom, 89% of email made to the inbox. France did almost as well with an 88% inbox rate while Germany was in line with the European average at 85%.
  • For email being sent to the “spam” or “bulk” folder, the United Kingdom had the lowest rate at just 3% while Germany had the highest with 11%. France was right in the middle with nearly 5% of email sent to the “junk” or “bulk” folder.
  • A significant percentage of email was categorized as “missing” or not delivered at all. In both the United Kingdom and France 7% of email went missing. Germany did slightly better with just 3% in this category.

The report also looked at non-delivered rates (messages routed to junk/bulk folders or blocked all together) by Internet Service Provider (ISP) in France, Germany and the UK. Inbox placement rates varied significantly from ISP to ISP. In the UK, toughest inboxes to get into were Demon, BT Internet, AOL, Orange, and Yahoo!. In France, it was SFR, AOL, LaPoste, Yahoo!, and Orange and in Germany, it was, AOL, Yahoo!, Freenet, and GMX.

So you’ve seen the numbers. Why should inbox placement rate matter to you? If you’re not getting delivered to the inbox, then your messages aren’t getting opened, read and clicked on – necessary actions to drive your conversions and channel revenue. There is a direct correlation between the percentage of messages that make it to the inbox and the revenue and ROI generated from a marketer’s email program. In order to get a response, you first have to make it to the inbox.

What can a responsible email marketer to do about it? If you’re working with an email service provider (ESP) you may not have access to accurate delivered rates. Many ESPs will report a message as delivered if it hasn’t bounced, and so claim deliverability rates of 95% or higher. The reality is that ISPs don’t report a bounce code or any other information if the email is “missing” or sent to the spam folder instead of the inbox. This means that a significant percentage of email is not being read or responded to because it simply isn’t received.

The first step to improving your email deliverability is to understand how many of your emails are actually arriving in the inbox. I know it’s tempting to believe those reports that show your “delivered” rate as being above 90%, but our research shows that actual inbox percentages are substantially lower. Once you have the right information you can take steps to improve your email reputation, which determines whether an email is sent to the inbox, dumped in the spam folder or simply deleted at the ISP gateway.

Want results? There are two things you can do today:

  1. If you’re working with an ESP, you can start by asking your account team to provide details on the deliverability and metrics reports you’ve seen to date. Ask specifically for a report of your inbox placement rates – the percentage of emails that made to the inbox, not the “junk” or “bulk” folder.
  2. Get a handle on your email reputation by checking your Sender Score at If your score is over 80 (on a scale of 0 -100) you’re probably doing okay, but if you’ve got a score of less than 80 you have real cause for concern. Either way, your email deliverability can change with each campaign, so check your Sender Score regularly to determine if you are having problems so you can take action to diagnose and prevent delivery failures in the future.

Download the full report here.

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