Ignore Rate: The Rate That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

Do you like being ‘ignored’? – Neither do I. But what does that actually mean in email terms? As you can guess from its name, the deleted before reading rate, also be referred as ‘ignore rate’, measures how often your recipients proceed to delete the email you’ve sent without reading it. The ignore rate is calculated by taking the total number of unread emails deleted out of total emails sent.

A high ignore rate may signal a disengaged subscriber and can be considered a sign of a low performing campaign. It can also be considered as either an indication of permission issues or a lack of satisfaction and engagement with your overall email marketing program. In 2018, the average overall deleted before reading rate was 16 percent, with each industry experiencing varying averages of their own.

From a mailbox provider point of view, a high deleted before reading rate indicates a lack of interest in your messages, and can result in future emails being filtered to the spam folder. And that is not where we want to be.

So let’s talk about what can be done to make your content desirable for your subscribers in five easy steps: 

Who is in your database? Choose your audience wisely
Knowing your subscribers is one of the key factors to successfully reaching your audience. And that starts with building up a strong subscriber base. Always use opt-in consent methods as more people will engage with your email if they have chosen to receive it in the first place. Subscribers are also more engaged with email programs when they get to choose the content they want and its frequency – so make sure you set up a preference center that your subscriber can update at any time.

Another great way of winning your new subscriber’s heart and inbox access is to provide a special offer or discount in the welcome message–who doesn’t like a discount? It’s a good incentive for subscribers to engage with your email early in the relationship so they look forward to receiving–and opening—future messages from you.

It can also be very tempting to send to people that have been on your subscriber list for a long time, but you run the risk of sending to recycled spam traps which can harm your reputation.

List Hygiene: Who will read your email?
First things first, suppress unknown users after one hard bounce. Mailbox providers bounce an inactive email address as an unknown user for a limited time prior to turning some of them into a recycled spam trap. If you do want to send to people that have previously subscribed to you, do it smartly. You can implement a reengagement strategy and incentivize them to reengage with special offers or discounts usually called reengagement or win-back campaign. Another way to reengage these subscribers is by sending a repermission campaign asking them to reconfirm their consent and preferences.

At the end of the day, if someone no longer wants to receive your email it is better for them and for your email program if they unsubscribe. It is better to have someone unsubscribe instead of going dormant, deleting your email without reading it, or marking your email as spam. Having a clear and easy unsubscribe process is also a key element.

Content: What will your subscribers read?
What is the first thing your readers see in their inboxes?–Your subject line. Using well-crafted subject lines and pre-headers is a great way to encourage your subscribers to open your email and not delete it without reading. Make use of any exclusive offers you might have at any given time and present a sense of urgency such as a limited time offer to create a strong call to action for your subscribers.

Beyond the subject line, opening an email once and seeing exactly the content that was expected is a good precedent to open an email from the same sender again. So the next thing you need to focus on is making sure your content renders as well on mobile devices and on desktop computers. If your email doesn’t render well, the next one you send will most likely get ignored, perhaps even marked as spam. Another effective way of increasing engagement and compelling subscribers to spend time reading your email is interactive content. Take advantage of interactive polls, animated GIFs, Image rollovers, and video.  

In addition to rendering and interactive content also keep content easily skimmable to make subscribers more likely to continue engaging with your content. Many mobile users read content while on-the-go and don’t want to spend time scrolling and reading a lot of text. Include social sharing buttons to encourage your socially active subscribers to share your information with friends and family so they can read and engage with your message.

The right message to the right audience
You are likely to avoid being ‘ignored’ if you send to your subscribers the content they want at the frequency they want. Use available data to segment your campaigns based on your subscribers’ purchase history and frequency, prospects, current customers, location, event attendance, in-store buyers vs online buyers, preferences, and other demographics. Have a plan for engaging customers at each stage of the customer lifecycle as your customers will require different messaging depending on where they are in the life cycle. If you want to know more about customer lifecycle check out these Customer Survey Results to optimize your email customer lifecycle.

Testing is the key
There is not just one reason for subscribers to decide not to read an email. The most effective way to learn what their preferences are is to test. To find out what resonates with your customers, consistently test and measure various different elements to optimize your program for increased engagement. Here are 50 testing ideas to get you started.

minute read

Popular stories



BriteVerify email verification ensures that an email address actually exists in real-time


The #1 global data quality tool used by thousands of Salesforce admins


Insights and deliverability guidance from the only all-in-one email marketing solution

GridBuddy Cloud

Transform how you interact with your data through the versatility of grids.

Return Path

World-class deliverability applications to optimize email marketing programs

Trust Assessments

A revolutionary new solution for assessing Salesforce data quality


Validity for Email

Increase inbox placement and maximize subscriber reach with clean and actionable data

Validity for Data Management

Simplify data management with solutions that improve data quality and increase CRM adoption

Validity for Sales Productivity

Give your sales team back hours per day with tools designed to increase productivity and mitigate pipeline risks in real-time