A new report looking into email engagement may be a must read for marketers in the business of mass emailing to customers.

According to the report, from data solutions provider Return Path, if you can improve subscriber engagement, less emails will end up in spam boxes.

The report found that spam placement is up, but so are positive engagement metrics such as read rate, reply rate, and forward rate. It also found that customers are more likely to retrieve a message from the spam folder and mark it as ‘not junk’.

Industries that outperformed the average in engagement metrics also saw less email delivered to spam.

Among the key findings from this report:

Spam placement increased slightly year over year (13 per cent in 2016 vs 12 per cent in 2015).

Industries with the lowest spam rate – banking/finance, distribution & manufacturing, travel, and utilities – also exceeded nearly every benchmark for subscriber engagement.

The amount of email delivered to the spam folder ranged from just six per cent (banking/finance and distribution & manufacturing) to 24 per cent (automotive). Automotive also had the worst spam placement of 2015 (28 per cent).

Overall read rate increased by eight per cent year over year, and every industry saw an increase in read rate compared with 2015. Industries with the highest read rate were distribution & manufacturing (58 per cent) and utilities (57 per cent). By comparison, the best-read rate of 2015 was 47 per cent (utilities).

Subscribers took a more active role this year in separating wanted mail from unwanted mail. The overall ‘deleted without reading’ rate rose from nine per cent in 2015 to 13 per cent in 2016, while the ‘this is not spam’ rate (which measures how often a subscriber retrieves a message from the spam folder and marks it as ‘not junk’ )jumped from just 0.03 per cent in 2015 to 1.04 per cent in 2016.

Return Path President George Bilbrey said: “More than ever before, subscriber engagement is critical to getting your email delivered to the inbox. Major mailbox providers like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are constantly looking for ways to improve their customer experience, and they are increasingly reliant on engagement signals to filter out unwanted messages. . . Yet many marketers don’t track these metrics, and may not even be aware that they’re available.”

Report findings are drawn from more than 5 billion commercial emails received in 2016. The report analysis is broken down by industry sector, allowing marketers to compare their own subscriber engagement against their industry peers and identify opportunities for improvement – ultimately leading to better deliverability and marketing ROI.

The complete Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report can be found here.

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