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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2018-10-03

It’s no secret that, for most businesses, the fourth quarter is an especially important time of year for sales. And when it comes to email marketing as a vehicle for sales, crafting creative and effective messages is key, but it is equally important to ensure that those messages are actually received by your recipients.


I’ve provided some advice previously on email delivery. A new study by Return Path shows some interesting new trends and benchmarking data so I thought I’d revisit the topic. Here are some key takeaways from the study:


  • Inbox placement improving: I’ve got some good news – it appears we are all getting better at reaching customers and prospects with email. According to the report, average global inbox placement increased five percentage points over the past 12 months, with spam placement declining 1 percent. North America also saw improved deliverability of six percentage points to 83% with a 1% decrease in spam placement. The gains may be attributed to a number of factors, including marketers better understanding how email spam filters work, adhering to GDPR and CAN-SPAM laws and generally increasing the quality and focus of their email campaigns.


  • Major email providers making strides: Another reason for improved deliverability rates are the major email providers themselves. Gmail, for example, made it easier for its users to unsubscribe from email lists and announced a new open platform (AMP for Email), making emails more dynamic and interactive for mobile device users. Meanwhile, Yahoo and AOL consolidated their infrastructure under Verizon’s Oath umbrella to manage email more effectively and consistently. As a result of these shifts, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo consistently saw inbox placement rates well above 90% every quarter. (Outlook was more of a challenge for marketers to reach with an average of just 75 percent.)


  • High-rated industries: All industries in the report showed improvements in inbox placement. Distribution/manufacturing and banking/finance enjoyed the highest inbox placement averages (96%), while education/nonprofit/government had the lowest placement rate (83%). The automotive industry saw the largest increase (to 88%)—with an 11 percentage point hike over the previous period.


To ensure that emails gets through to prospects, I always recommend these eight strategies to clients:


  1. Achieve a positive sender reputation by meeting Internet service provider (ISP) guidelines.


  1. Encourage recipients to reply to your messages, which sends a positive signal to ISPs. Don’t use a "no reply" address.


  1. Act quickly to unsubscribe requests.


  1. Include safe-sender links in your messages, such as a clear link guiding your audiences to add your company's "from" address to safe sender lists or address books.


  1. Maintain list hygiene. Abandoned email address are sometimes reused by email clients to serve as spam traps.


  1. Don’t add attachments. Emails with attachments are more heavily scrutinized by SPAM filters.


  1. Keep file sizes low Emails over 100k will likely be blocked.


  1. Adhere to applicable laws. (CAN-SPAM U.S. and CASL Canada)


By combining the above strategies with high-impact, personalized content and high-quality, accurate email data, you’ll be sure to see an impact on sales. Wishing you a fantastic fourth quarter!



Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including top-level executives -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.

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