Return Path Solution Analyzes Consumer Behavior when Marketers Compete Head-to-Head

Inbox Insight Subscriber Overlap compares user engagement when competing brands’ email campaigns share the inbox


NEW YORK – June 18, 2013 – Return Path, the global leader in email intelligence, today announced the addition of a new feature to its Inbox Insight competitive intelligence solution, allowing marketers to understand more about how consumers engage with other brands’ email marketing campaigns. Called Subscriber Overlap, this feature isolates the behavior of shared subscribers – real people that receive email from competing marketers – to reveal whose campaigns they engage with and how they respond when given a choice between multiple brands’ messages.

With Subscriber Overlap, Inbox Insight users can determine what percentage of their subscriber bases they share with specific email senders, and compare subscriber behavior including reading messages to measure respective engagement. Findings are based on the aggregated, anonymized mailbox activity of a representative panel of 3 million email users.

“Marketers are already using Subscriber Overlap to find key tactical differences between competing campaigns, to see which drove better subscriber engagement. They’re optimizing email programs by incorporating competitors’ winning tactics, and it’s working for them,” said George Bilbrey, President of Return Path. “But we can deliver more value from email by applying this intelligence beyond the channel, helping marketers gain insight into product positioning, brand awareness, and market development. This tool can help organizations understand their customer experience in competitive environments.”

Six Father’s Day Winners, Picked by Subscriber Overlap

Using Inbox Insight’s Subscriber Overlap to study competitive brands’ subscriber engagement in the first week of June (during the run up to Father’s Day), Return Path was able to identify the marketers who were most successful at getting their messages read. (Read rate is the percentage of delivered messages that mailbox providers categorize as ‘read.’)

Walgreens (by a nose): Edging out its closest competitor, Walgreens posted the highest read rate in its category, although theirs was only 4% higher than the next-best contender.

The Home Depot (by a mile): In a highly competitive category, The Home Depot focused heavily on Father’s Day gifts and earned read rates that topped the second-place sender by 108%. Shared subscribers were more than twice as likely to read Home Depot messages than others’.

Walmart: When subscribers received messages from Walmart and a competing brand, they were more likely to read Walmart’s, elevating the company’s read rate 32% above its nearest competitor.

Nike: In head-to-head competition for subscribers’ attention, Nike’s read rate was 9% better than the next runner-up.

Golfsmith: When Golfsmith’s messages shared the inbox with direct competitors, its read rate beat theirs by 12%.

Hockey vs. Basketball: Fans generally receive email from either the National Hockey League or the National Basketball League – less than 4% of NHL subscribers also get mail from the NBA. But those that got both were more likely to read their hockey messages: When the leagues faced off, the NHL’s read rate was 11% higher than the NBA’s.


About Return Path

Return Path is the worldwide leader in email intelligence. We analyze more data about email than anyone else in the world and use that data to power products that ensure that only emails people want and expect reach the inbox. Our industry-leading email intelligence solutions utilize the world’s most comprehensive set of data to maximize the performance and accountability of email, build trust across the entire email ecosystem and protect users from spam and other abuse. We help businesses build better relationships with their customers and improve their email ROI; and we help ISPs and other mailbox providers enhance network performance and drive customer retention.  Information about Return Path can be found at:


Tami Forman
Return Path
+1 646 367 3905
[email protected]


Kristen Stippich
Weber Shandwick for Return Path
+1 212 445 8030
[email protected]




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