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Are Your Emails Reaching the Inbox?

November 9th, 2015 Posted in Email, Fundraising

Every year, ReturnPath publishes the Deliverability Benchmark Report, which is the analysis of inbox placement rates. The 2015 report has just come out and deliverability trends are a tad worrisome.

This year’s report opens with the following statement:

“Marketers have spent years honing their email expertise, refining their strategies and improving their campaigns. For most marketers today, email is a given—the workhorse and often the foundation of their digital marketing program. And yet, our research shows that reaching the inbox is more difficult than ever. Worldwide inbox placement rates are dropping, with one in five commercial emails now failing to reach the inbox.”

This is especially important to understand considering email volume is up another 7 percent this year from 2014 (16 percent since 2013). In other words, there are more and more emails and fewer of them are reaching the inbox.

Want some more tough news? The largest drop in deliverability—the highest drop anywhere in the world—is in the U.S. In 2014, reaching the inbox in the U.S. was measured at 87 percent, and in 2015, we have dropped to 76 percent. Not reaching the inbox means it is reported as spam or “disappears,” which means the mailbox provider most likely blocked it.

With that said, the report also provided some stats by industry. Unfortunately, we cannot see the breakout of nonprofits in the U.S., but when all nonprofits are viewed globally, the change from 2014 to 2015 is only 1 point—from 90 percent to 89 percent. Either way, what is clear is that deliverability in the U.S. is more challenged than anywhere else in the world and that is going to affect everyone—even nonprofits.

There are several practices that a nonprofit (or anyone, really) can use to help offset what is happening in most American inboxes. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you keeping your list clean? Do you do regular maintenance on the list? Are you removing bad email addresses? Are you scrubbing your list after the bounces happen with a campaign? As emails are brought into your database, are you screening them for proper email structure (@, .XXX, etc.)? Make sure you are doing everything you can do to keep your list clean.
  2. Are you structuring your annual email campaigns with your best email consumers in mind? In other words, are you taking the time to plan your communication schedule for people who regularly open and respond versus those who rarely open and respond? If you are still marketing to one segment (meaning everyone who has an email), this will continue to upset constituents and hurt your deliverability. Start looking at your email constituents by traditional performance metrics—how often are they opening emails, which emails are they opening, etc.
  3. How relevant are your emails? I know everyone thinks that word is overused, so I don’t care if you call it something else—just make sure your information is in line with what your email constituents want from you. There are multiple ways to do this: look at their behaviors and where (i.e., topics, subjects) they are clicking on in previous emails; review how your email constituents originally signed up to receive your emails; track what emails they are opening (or not), etc. And don’t forget that you can always ask them. This is a great way to ask for overall feedback from your constituents.

Have you tracked deliverability of your emails year-over-year—or even across differently themed campaigns? If not, that’s the first step.

NonProfit PRO Magazine


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