In episode 16 of the Deliverability Defined podcast, Melissa and I discuss inbox placement tests, how they can be helpful, and how they can fall short.
Inbox placement tests
Inbox placement tests allow you to know whether your emails are being placed in the inbox, spam folder, or are missing for a list of test addresses. There are two ways to figure out where your email is landing with inbox placement tools:
1) Seed lists- These are fake addresses that populate data back into the tool you’re using
2) Panel data- These are real people using a free application that is aggregating their data in the background. (Google banned this in March 2019.)
If you've ever downloaded or used one of those free tools or applications that sync with your email inbox and automatically unsubscribes you from email that you don't open very often, there's a chance your email data is actually being used by someone else's inbox placement test to determine where their messages land.
It’s impossible to know if an email actually hits the primary inbox, but these free tools might be working behind the scenes to acquire that data for someone else. It’s a controversial practice that we want to shed some light on.
In this episode, we talk about the ins and outs of inbox placement tests and how useful they are (if at all).
Inbox placement test pros
- Inbox placement tests can be a helpful data point to determine if you have any major deliverability issues.
- Inbox placement tests can scan for basic issues like long urls, large images, or HTML problems. These are useful if you’re new to the game.
Inbox placement test cons
- There are so many factors influencing your inbox placement that it’s nearly impossible to know which one is the culprit. Suggestions can often lead to fruitless rabbit holes.
- Seed lists aren’t going to act in the same way as real subscribers because they are fake. This isn’t bad, per se, but it doesn’t offer much help to marketers.
Inbox placement tests can be helpful but don’t treat them as an authority. Instead, treat them as a supplement to other tools for increasing your open and deliverability rates. Be sure to look at your own data in conjunction with anything coming from an inbox placement test.