Inbox Rates are Falling, Here's What You Can Do

One thing I hear a lot lately from email marketers is that their jobs are getting harder. Regardless of what they do or how hard they work, they feel like they are losing ground. Well as it turns out, they are right.

Inbox placement rates from the second quarter dropped from 78 percent to 69 percent in the US from 2015 to 2016. Consequently, intended recipients were not seeing almost 1/3 of all emails sent in the US in Q2 2016.

The trend continues globally, with Q2 rates dropping from 81 percent to 76 percent over the last year worldwide. So it’s not just you, email marketing really is getting harder.

See these—and other key metrics—in Return Path’s annual Deliverability Benchmark Report.

So what is causing this drop?
A lot of factors are contributing to this global drop in Inbox placement. Here are a few key ones:

  • Your subscribers are seeing a larger number of sophisticated phishing emails than ever. This hurts brand trust and makes subscribers even more selective about which emails to engage with. Less engagement means more of your emails going to the spam folder.
  • Mailbox providers such as Gmail are constantly evolving and improving their filtering mechanisms to protect their users from these phishing attacks and spammers.  Marketers have been slow to adapt to this rapidly changing environment.  As a result, their email strategies are out of date and fail to reach the inbox as effectively as they should.
  • Email marketing departments are facing demands for more sales, conversions, and volume from the email channel. Yet with limited resources— time, personnel, and money—departments are hard pressed to meet these demands.

What can you do to avoid having your share of the inbox evaporate? 

Phishing Concept Fish Hook Credit Cards_Medium__CompNo phishing allowed:
First, let’s acknowledge that it seems like phishing will never go away entirely. That does not mean you shouldn’t do what you can to limit it. To combat phishing emails you should implement a DMARC authentication. DMARC is the next evolution in email authentication building off the groundwork laid by SPF and DKIM to give you the power to protect your brand more effectively. Consequently, you can greatly reduce the amount of phishing attacks aimed at your brand. You can setup DMARC in about 15 minutes as the first step in coordinating full company-wide implementation.

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As one of my colleagues recently put it the Inbox is a privilege, not a right. Mailbox providers like Gmail, Yahoo, and Microsoft work hard to make their users Inbox experiences the best they can be. As a result, they expect the same efforts from email marketers.

The strategy that worked a few years ago is unlikely to work today. Even the strategy from a few months ago may not work anymore. Ask all of those marketers who suddenly saw big drops in Gmail inbox placement in late March. Marketers scrambled to adapt their strategies to the new landscape. Some marketers are unaware that they are still paying the penalty for not adapting quickly to a change they did not know about.

Be proactive and make changes as soon as you learn something new. If you wait until you have a big delivery problem, you waited too long. As an example look at the list-bombing issue that Spamhaus highlighted recently. Many marketers and email service providers came into work that day to find they had been listed on Spamhaus. What would you have done if you had been one of them? Why wait to take those actions after the fact? Make the changes now, and avoid being the next target.

Coping with more demands and limited resources: Team planning
The data you need to find success and maximize youriInbox rate is out there. For most marketers the problem is a lack of resources to find, interpret, and create strategies based on the data. Few email teams are able to add personnel and budget at will. Therefore, the solution is usually finding a trusted partner who can help you with those things. Getting the right data, understanding it within your unique business context, and helping to form the strategy to take advantage of these insights are at the core of what Return Path does best.

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