A patent has been awarded to consumer intelligence firm Return Path for its advanced method of measuring when an email reaches its proper destination.

With U.S. Patent #8,719,356 B2, Return Path can tot up the percentage of email messages delivered to addressees’ inboxes against those delivered to spam folders or even those that were not delivered at all.

Return Path calls the concept ‘inbox placement’ and in a world where web email providers are constantly updating their services with enhancements that separate marketing messages from a user’s inbox with features like Gmail’s tabs, actual delivery stats are becoming even more important.

Failed delivery

A recent study by Return Path of close to 500 million messages discovered that 17% of all permissioned commercial email across the world does not reach its destination inbox. 

To accurately measure email deliverability, Return Path combines inbox placement data from seeds, also known as monitored email accounts, with a representative sample of actual consumer inboxes.

Seed data has become increasingly flawed when used on its own because of the way modern web-based inboxes respond to user behaviour and engagement. By their very nature, seeds receive no human interaction.

Drawback of consumer data

Consumer data has its own foibles, too. Its analysis is based on actual user behaviour so any undelivered messages are not tracked.

The company covers all bases by using a combination of both data types, although it has stated that the patent is as much about the application of the two data sources as the sources themselves.

Return Path’s inbox placement technology is being used by brands such as Groupon, Gilt Groupe and La Redoute to monitor email deliverability within their global customer bases.