One in Five Permission-Based E-mails Filtered: Return Path

Apr 04, 2006 11:54 PM  By

An average of 20.5% of permission-based e-mails in the second half of 2005 either ended up in recipients’ junk mail folders or didn’t get delivered, according Return Path.

Also, 73.4% of consumers surveyed by Return Path said they have had e-mail they wanted to receive either end up in their junk folders or go missing, the e-mail service provider reported.

“Though things have gotten a little better, delivery remains a problem,” says George Bilbrey, vice president/general manager of Return Path Delivery Solutions.

Also, business-to-business e-mail has even higher nondelivery rates than business-to-consumer e-mail, according to Return Path. Top corporate filters MessageLabs, Postini, and Brightmail had 30.5%, 24%, and 21.5% nondelivery rates respectively in the second half of 2005, the company reported. Bilbrey. says it may be because corporate e-mail administrators don’t have access to feedback from mailbox holders the way consumer ISPs do.

“The ISPs take false positives very seriously,” says Bilbrey. “They’ve got all sorts of different people that are subscribers to their service, so they are probably less aggressive than a corporate administrator who is making his decisions somewhat in a vacuum.”

The good news, however, is that 56.6% of consumers surveyed by Return Path said they have added at least four corporate domains to their personal address books to make sure e-mail from those companies gets delivered. Another 16.7% added between one and three domains to their address books.

“A lot of that is the product of a lot of hard work by marketers to educate people on how to use the address book,” says Bilbrey.

The average nondelivery rate in the second half of 2005 was down slightly from 21% in the first half of 2005, and down still more from 22% in 2004, according to Return Path.

Delivery rates reportedly vary widely among ISPs. Excite had the highest nondelivery rate, with 42.9% of permission-based e-mail either blocked or filtered in the second half of 2005, Return Path reported. Gmail, Lycos ,and Adelphia came in second, third and fourth worst, with 40.4%, 33.8% and 31% nondelivery rates respectively.

Earthlink had the best delivery rate, with only 7.8% of permission-based e-mail blocked or filtered, according to Return Path. Mac.com, Compuserve, and USA.net came in second, third, and fourth best with nondelivery rates of 8.1%, 9.4%, and 9.9% respectively.

Return Path said it analyzed 117,761 e-mail campaigns for the study.