Email Marketing – How Many Get Through?

Every online business should have a mail list of prospects and customers they send regular emails to. But how many people who sign up for your mail list actually receive your message?

There are many list building techniques, but the object of a mail list is to build trust so that prospects will be more inclined to purchase your products.

However, a recent report from Return Path shows that deliverability of opt-in commercial (non-spam) emails and newsletters is running at about 80%, meaning 20% or your subscribed mail isn’t getting through.

“Many marketers aren’t even aware that one-fifth of their emails are never reaching the inbox,” Return Path co-founder George Bilbrey. “In many cases, marketers are seeing ‘delivered’ metrics that repeatedly show a 95% to 98% delivery rate.”

Much of this is due to the ISP’s using their own filtering methods to try and reduce spam. According to the report, the toughest ISP’s in the U.S. are Gmail, Comcast, AOL, Hotmail and MSN.

Gmail was shown to be the worst with 23% of subscribed mail not making it to the recipient’s inbox. In an attempt to alleviate some of the problem Gmail has instituted an ‘Unsubscribe’ option to some marketing messages.

As a small business email marketer you have a couple of options. First, set up personal accounts at Gmail, AOL, Hotmail and MSN. Sign up to your mail list using these personal accounts and see if your outgoing marketing mail is getting through.

Another option that we use is an SMTP relay service, or ‘smarthost’, that authenticates the sender such as It can be used from your computer or, if  your Mail List/Autoresponder software has an SMTP option set it up through there. It’s not very expensive and does the job, especially if you are on a shared email server that keeps getting blacklisted.