There are a few tools our team uses to help Woodpecker customers assess and improve their email deliverability. In this post, we want to share the list of those tools with you and explain how and when you can use them by yourselves to take a good care of your cold email campaigns’ delivery rates.
When to check your email deliverability?
The tools listed in this post will be especially useful in two cases:
#1 – before starting your cold email campaign, whether it’s automated or not.
#2 – during your cold email campaign, if you have some reasons to suspect that your delivery rates may be low, or you get blocked from sending by your email service provider (for instance Google).
In the second case, the tools will allow you to discover the cause(s) of the deliverability problem, which is the first step to fix it.
Free for 3 checks/day, then paid
Mail-Tester allows you to check in a few moments, if your cold email may look spammy to other email servers and thus cause your email delivery rate to drop. It’s very easy to use, plus you can check up to three messages a day for free. You just go to their website and copy the email address generated for you. Then you send your email to this address and you get a report.
The tool will show you your email server IP, the info about your SPF & DKIM configuration, the general assessment of SpamAssassin system (more about it further in this post), the assessment of your message content in the “eyes” of spam filters, your potential presence on some blacklists, and the info about any broken links in your message.
Then, based on all those factors, you’ll get a general score (0-10). The closer you get to 10, the better. 10 should be your goal. 9-8 is a good score, but you should take seriously the hints Mail-Tester gives you and try to improve that. 7-6 is acceptable, but some strictest providers may block some of your emails. You should never send an email scored 5 or below.
One thing we’ve found about Mail-Tester, though, is that it tends to take into consideration some outdated RBLs (Realtime Blackhole Lists) which are blacklists of IP addresses whose owners have been refusing to stop sending spam. That’s why in some cases your score may be decreased, even though your IP isn’t currently listed on any blacklists.
The blacklists you should care about, check, and avoid getting listed on are:
- Is Not Spam – free version available;
- Unlock the Inbox – free version available; for more advanced users: it offers some technically detailed reports but no general score like Mail-Tester.
This is an online tool that allows you to check SpamAssassin scoring of your email. What is SpamAssassin? Simply speaking, it’s a complex system of scoring email messages designed to detect and filter spam. It’s used by many common email providers, that’s why it’s so important to be aware of it and test your emails according to the system’s rules.
How it works? When you go to Spamcheck by Postmark, you’ll see that it needs the source of your email to score it.
The source of an email is the whole of an email message, but not the whole you normally see, but the whole that your server normally sees. How to get to the source? Usually, there’s an option to see the source of a message in the inbox of your email client. So the first thing you need to do is to send the message you want to test to one of your own email addresses. Next, you go to the inbox, open the message and look for some options.
In Gmail, for instance, you’ll see the options in the top right corner of the message window. To see the source, you choose ‘Show original’.
Then, you’ll see what your email really looks like. 🙂 Copy the whole thing and paste it into Spamcheck.
What you will get as a result is a score. The score may be sub-zero and above zero. Important: the lower score you get here, the better, which may be counter-intuitive, so remember about that. Anything close to 5 or higher will be most probably automatically marked as spam by your prospects’ email providers.
So that’s what you can see when you paste the source of a spammy message:
And that’s what a deliverable message will look like:
Free for 3 tests, then paid
This is a very interesting tool, based on a simple idea, which allows you to check how your message will be seen by, and delivered (or not delivered) to major email hosting services, including: Gmail, Outlook, GoDaddy, Hotmail, Yahoo, Apple and many more.
How it works? You set up your account at Glock Apps, you click on ‘start test’.
At this point, you’ll be given a code that you are supposed to paste into your message. You also get a list of addresses set up on different email hosting services. These are real adresses – physically set up mailboxes.
So you copy the addresses and paste them as the addressees of your message. Then you just send your message (including the code) to all those addresses, and after a few moments, you get a report on the message in the Glock Apps dashboard.
In the report, you’ll see an average delivery rate across all the tested hosts, as well as detailed reports for every host, listed one by one.
An interesting feature this tool also has is the suggestions of possible reasons that may negatively affect deliverability. So as a user, you get a set of hints on your content and email settings, which you can start from on the way to improving your delivery rates.
Free for testing emails sent from 1 domain (only limited reports), then paid
It’s a rather complex tool which will provide you with a very detailed analysis of your deliverability potential based on a wide variety of factors.
After you set up an account in the tool, you will get a unique email address for testing your messages. You can send your emails from different addresses and domains to this single address, and see the analysis of all the messages in your SendForensics dashboard.
The tool shows quite a lot data so it will be helpful to more advanced and tech-savvy users. On the other hand, the less advanced users can benefit from the general deliverability assessment expressed in percentage (the Deliverability column of the dashboard).
I think all users, regardless of the level of technical proficiency, will enjoy the feature of message content analysis. SendForensics performs an assessment of your email content and displays a result on a scale from ‘natural conversational’ to ‘overly-promotional’. It will also point to the specific phrases in your copy which may alert anti-spam filters and decrease your delivery rate.
What is more, the tool collects and compares the results of all your tests, so you can easily control if the changes you make in your copy and settings actually affect your deliverability in a positive or a negative way.
- Email on Acid – offers a 7-day free trial.
- Litmus – offers a 7-day free trial, but you need to enter your card info to sign up.
- 250ok – requires a live demo before you can start testing.
Talos (formerly known as SenderBase) allows you to check the reputation of your email server IP or your domain. To do that, you just enter the name of your domain or your IP to Talos, and click search.
Then, it will show you if your web reputation and email reputation are assessed as good, neutral or poor by other email service providers. You should obviously aim at good. Neutral is a sign that there’s something to improve. Poor means that most of your emails probably won’t get to their destination.
Additionally, you can see if your email volume hasn’t changed too much over the past (you should avoid peaks in the volume of the sent emails). Plus, you’ll get informed in case you’ve been listed on a major blacklist.
- Sender Score
- Reputation Authority
- FireHOL IP Lists
- IP Reputation Investigation by Symantec
What’s in it for you?
Which tool should you choose? That’s a question only you can answer. In an ideal scenario, you should try out as many deliverability testing tools as you can and find the most useful features in a few of them.
Keep in mind that if you test your emails with more than one tool, you will get enough data to draw the right conclusions and thus quickly improve your email deliverability.
A tip for Woodpecker users
If you’re already using Woodpecker to automatically send your cold email sequences, you can easily test them by sending a copy to the test addresses provided by tools like Mail-Tester, Unlock the Inbox, SendForensics and so on.
Just copy your campaign and add the test addresses as your prospects. Remember to fill out the custom fields. Then you can send the campaign and have it tested in a few tools at once by one click.
A tip for rookies
If you’re not very tech-savvy and you’re just getting off when it comes to controlling and improving your deliverability, start from the basics:
Hope this helps!