Email Deliverability September 2020 [infographic]

This is the sixth email deliverability test we’ve carried out, and, as with every test, it brought quite a few surprises. If you’d like to make a comparison between this test and the previous one, check out our test from February 2020.

For those of you who are coming across our tests for the first time, this is something we started doing back in August 2017 in order to monitor the deliverability rates of the world’s most popular email marketing services. The number of providers we look at has increased slightly since then – this round we included a total of 12 different email services.

How are the tests carried out?

In a nutshell, 5 separate tests are carried out over the course of 5 weeks, using the delivery testing tool Glockapps. You can read more about our methodology here, and also see how the tools have performed over the years.

But First, What is Email Deliverability?

Before we get into analyzing the results, I wanted to share the definitions for the following terms, so as to avoid any confusion.

Email delivery is when an email is successfully delivered to the receiving server

Email deliverability is when an email successfully arrives in the person’s inbox

Just because your email was delivered, does not mean that it made it into the right place, i.e. the reader’s main inbox. There are, in fact, a number of places your email can go:

  • the spam/junk folder;
  • in the case of Gmail, the Promotions tab;
  • or, worst of all, it doesn’t get delivered at all

The term ‘email deliverability’ covers all the above scenarios, and that’s what we’re interested in.

inbox placement glockapps

Note: In our tests deliverability was calculated based on the percentage of emails that successfully reached recipients’ mailboxes – regardless of whether they landed in the main inbox or a secondary tab (e.g. Gmail Promotions).

So, are you ready for the results of our email deliverability test?!

email deliverability sept 2020

Email Deliverability Rankings: Takeaways

  • ConvertKit, who really surprised us last round with very poor deliverability scores, came out number 1 in this round of testing!
  • Mailjet, one of the smaller providers, has held on to its number 2 spot with 94%
  • MailerLite managed to get back up into the 90s after a surprise drop in our previous tests
  • Sendinblue, who took the number one spot for best deliverability last round, has dropped right down to 10th with 76%
  • ActiveCampaign, once the reigning champ of deliverability, has taken a huge hit with just 73%
  • GetResponse was the only provider not to land a single email in Gmail’s main inbox (100% landed in the Promotions folder)
  • Benchmark has seen a slight improvement in results, yet it still only has a deliverability rate of 66%
  • Overall, the average deliverability has gone up. In fact, it’s the highest it’s been since we started testing in 2017. That’s a really positive indicator that email marketing services are investing more resources in this area

Where did the emails end up?

The table below shows the averages for where emails ended up for each provider: the main inbox, another tab, the spam folder, or if they went missing.

Constant Contact78.8%10.2%5.0%6.2%
Active Campaign62.0%11.2%5.4%21.8%
  • The providers least likely to have emails end up in spam were ConvertKit (2.4%), Mailjet (2.4%) and Drip (4.1%)
  • The providers most likely to be flagged as spam were Sendinblue (22.7%), Benchmark (18.2%) and AWeber (13.9%)
  • The providers least likely to have emails go missing were Mailchimp (0.27%) and MailerLite (1.07%)
  • The providers most likely to have emails go missing were ActiveCampaign (21.77%) and Benchmark (15.49%)

Deliverability to Most Popular Mailbox Providers

There are heaps of mailbox providers out there, and while our tests were sent to over 30 different ISPs internationally, we couldn’t record them all. Instead, they were weighted according to importance. The following table summarizes the average deliverability rates to Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft (Hotmail + Outlook) and AOL. For Gmail, we’ve differentiated between the emails that arrived in the main inbox and the Promotions tab.

Constant Contact60%40%100%100%100%
  • The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s main inbox were Sendinblue (80%), CleverReach (60%), ActiveCampaign (60%), Constant Contact (60%), ConvertKit (60%) and Drip (60%)
  • The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab were GetResponse (100%) and MailerLite (80%)
  • Sendinblue, Constant Contact, ConvertKit and Mailjet were able to reach Outlook and Hotmail inboxes 100% of the time
  • Sendinblue and ActiveCampaign didn’t manage to get a single email into AOL mailboxes. Sendinblue also saw all its emails go undelivered to Yahoo addresses

Overall ratings based on historical performance

Just because a provider hasn’t performed quite so well this round, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a good deliverability track record. We’ve assigned a star rating to each provider based on its overall performance over the last 3 rounds of testing. You can also see whether it’s performed better or worse compared to the last round.

Constant Contact4

ConvertKit takes our number one spot, as well as our ‘Best deliverability’ award.

best deliverability badge sept 2020 1

ConvertKit also wins our ‘Most improved’ award for deliverability, with a 58% improvement since last round (Feb 2020).

improved deliverability badge sept 2020 1

How does this affect my email marketing strategy?

When you’re choosing a provider, make sure that it has good delivery rates – we’d recommend referring to our historical data to see the upward or downward trends of each tool. You can also do your own tests with Glockapps – here is a sample report.

Email Deliverability Test: Conclusion

So there you have it, another completed deliverability test. Though I hope that you’ve found it to be useful, I recommend that you use it as a reference alongside your own research.

If you’re using a tool that’s gone down this round (i.e. ActiveCampaign) don’t panic. Take a look at your reports and conduct a few tests of your own using Glockapps or another service. Just because it’s performed badly this round, doesn’t mean it won’t bounce back next time (as we’ve seen with MailerLite this round).

If you’re currently looking for a new tool, make the most of free plans and trial periods l to run tests.

Keep an eye out for our next round (results released early 2021) to find out if ConvertKit can keep the top spot or if it will fall back to previous levels. We’re also intrigued to see how Mailjet will perform after seeing such good results this round and last – perhaps it could get to the number one spot?

Noticed any deliverability issues with your email marketing service? Or have any questions about our tests? Let us know in the comments below!

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