Channel Marketer Report


Study Finds That Marketing Email Accounts For 70% Of Spam Complaints

The growing availability of spam-reporting tools is having a major – and negative – impact on marketing email effectiveness, according to a recent study conducted by ReturnPath.

The company’s Email Intelligence Report found that marketers account for 70% of all “this is spam” complaints and 60% of all spam-trap hits. Over the past year, according to ReturnPath, marketers’ inbox placement rates fell by about 5% – a continuation of what is describes as a decade-long “trend of stagnant inbox placement rates.”

The ReturnPath study included subscriber panel data from more than two million email users across a variety of providers and platforms. The study findings include inbox, blocking and filtering rates for more than 315,000 campaigns.

The study also noted that legitimate spam sent using botnets accounts for just 3% of complaints and 11% of spam trap hits.

While the study did not break out B2B marketing email inbox placement rates, one of the underlying trends noted in the report suggests that inbox placement problems aren’t limited just to B2C campaigns. Specifically, according to ReturnPath, many email recipients are now using tools like Gmail’s “report spam” button to block unwanted email – even when they initially subscribed to or requested email updates.

The report speculates that using spam-reporting tools is easier than unsubscribing from legitimate marketing email, and that these tools are increasingly common in corporate email environments as well as web-based email services.

“The high rate of marketers sending messages to spam traps underscores just how important it is for companies to keep target lists updated and put email marketing best practices into place,” said George Bilbrey, President of Return Path.

“Oftentimes marketers may feel the return on investment is strong enough that a ‘large blast’ with some bounce backs isn’t a big deal,” Bilbrey stated. “But what may seem like a nominal problem could in fact be a much larger issue if recipients begin associating their brand with spam and ultimately make decisions based on that perception.”



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