Email marketing can get tricky sometimes. It continues to evolve and new ideas replace the old ones. Even the email marketing metrics are ever-changing too! That’s why it’s a must to stay updated in this field.
And one important insight that every email marketer should now learn to track – if they want to know what mailbox providers do once they receive their emails – is called inbox placement.
In a nutshell, it’s the measure of how many of your emails reached the inbox or a specific tab within Gmail, of your subscribers.
You might be asking, “Isn’t it just the same with delivery rate?” Well, the answer is no. It’s because inbox placement focuses primarily on the inbox and not other things, like whether the emails landed in the spam folder, which the email delivery rate considers.
Even so, why does it matter when you could just track the delivery rate? It’s simple…because emails that reach the inbox are more likely to be opened and could drive traffic back to your website.
So, if you want to keep an eye on your campaigns and win the game of deliverability, we are thrilled to provide you with some tips below on how to test the inbox placement of your emails.
Let’s dive straight into it.
5 Easy Steps to Test Inbox Placement of Your Emails
1. Build Your Email in Your Chosen ESP
First things first. Build your email in your chosen email service provider (ESP), whether that be in Mailchimp, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, GMX Mail, ProtonMail, etc.
Then, analyze the content before you send it. Generate an email preview or a screenshot for Yahoo, Outlook, Gmail, and mobile devices too.
2. Create Your Seed List
To ensure that your email campaigns will deploy as you intended, we recommend you test your email drafts before sending them. To do this, create your seed list or test email addresses.
Just name your list into something that will be easy to reference later, like “Internal Test.” Now, add test prospects from your users or subscribers.
It would also be better if your list involves international addresses or accounts with popular email providers around the world, such as gmail.com, hotmail.com, yahoo.ca, yahoo.com, aol.com, icloud.com, outlook.com, GoDaddy, gmx.de, mail.ru, and yandex.ru.
Then, send your campaign to those email addresses.
3. Run an Inbox Placement Test Using an Email Deliverability Testing Tool or App
The third step is to find a reliable email deliverability testing tool or app, such as our own InboxAlly tool, GlockApps, or ZeroBounce Test to name a few. These apps usually work to verify email service providers around the world and determine the placement of your email marketing campaign.
Whether your email is about to land in the inbox, spam, or will probably go missing, the email deliverability tools or apps can inform you beforehand so you’ll have time to adjust your campaign and achieve the highest deliverability.
How Many Delivery Tests Can You Send?
But just take note, though, that some email deliverability tools only allow certain delivery tests, especially if you’re using their software only on a trial license. So, if you need to run more tests, you may have to purchase more test credits from the program.
4. See The Result or Report Data
After running an inbox placement test, a delivery test report will usually be generated in a few minutes. Most often, a delivery report shows the following:
- spam filter tests: spam/not spam or phishy/not phishy,
- email spam score,
- Postini spam filter test
- sender authentication test: SPF and DKIM
- message placement at various providers: Newsletters, Primary Inbox, Spam, or Blocked (meaning it did not reach the mailbox)
- Delivery duration
- Missing rate
If some of your seed lists are Gmail accounts, the accurate inbox placement report will also show if the email got delivered to the Promotions tab, Social, or Primary. Use the insights from your inbox placement results so you can fix your emails.
5. Tweak Your Email Based on Your Test Result
It’s a common misconception in email marketing that just because an email design looked good before means that it always will. “We’ve been using this email temple for a while and we encountered no issues. Surely, there’s no need to do an email placement test on this one?”
Or perhaps you hear someone in your team say, “We’ve already sent this campaign internally and all the elements looked fine.” For some, it’s: “It’s time-consuming and too expensive to test.”
Well, the truth is, every email marketing campaign deserves to be tested before sending them. It’s not just to make sure the email looks good in different clients, but to ensure there are no broken images or links.
Some email marketing software even made things easier by providing suggestions based on the gathered information about your email design, email placement, text, images, links, and HTML code.
Eventually, inbox placement testing leads to better emails and better campaign results. As marketers, don’t we all love good results?
Why Test Email Placement?
Testing your inbox placement determines whether your email will pass spam filters, how it is being treated by major internet providers, and it measures the engagement metrics of your emails.
Things That Could Affect How Your Subscribers See Your Email
That means that even if your email is rock-solid when you were designing it, there are still issues and settings on your subscriber’s end that may be affecting your campaigns. All these can be addressed when you do an email placement test. The first one is…
The images you’ve included in your email can be blocked for many subscribers because of their personal preference or default image blocking. This setting is common in corporate settings or other regulated industries that block images in email by default.
This can be one of the biggest obstacles you have to overcome in your email marketing campaign since blocked images cannot see the result in messages that fail to make an impact.
To these recipients, images may appear broken. The worst thing that could happen is that you’ve not included an ALT test in your imagery and it would simply appear as a blank space in their screen.
Varying Support for Design Elements
Let’s say you’re designing an email with background images, animated GIFs, and custom fonts. That’s cool on your part and other recipients, but what if some of your email clients are using an email service that doesn’t support some or all those HTML elements?
Wouldn’t that be a total waste of effort on your part? If you’ve conducted an inbox placement test, then the answer is no. Why? It’s because you can have a backup for unsupported HTML elements right in your email code.
Device Screen Size
Many of your subscribers may be opening their email on their phones. That is why you need to design a mobile-friendly campaign.
Once your email design will scale appropriately, it will be easier for your subscriber to interact with your campaign, regardless of whether they’re using a laptop, a computer, or a mobile device. This will encourage them to engage more with your campaign and possibly feel positive about your brand.
Scaling your email design is not an easy task since there are now many different screen sizes to consider. However, with hard work and dedication, you can keep up with those designs that can work on most of the devices.
Who Benefits the Most from an Inbox Placement Test?
Several types of senders benefit the most from conducting an inbox placement test. This includes those who know that their campaign is not performing as it should be. That’s why at some point, they need a metric that will point to them what is wrong so they can head in the right direction.
Another type of sender who can benefit the most from running an inbox placement test in their email marketing campaign is one who has a high email delivery rate but a low engagement rate.
The inbox placement result will show the sender where the emails are landing in the first place. This information alone can already largely speak to the overall deliverability and sender reputation.
Say Goodbye to Unpleasant Post-Send Surprises!
Email marketing takes time to master. To be successful in it, you have to keep the best practices in mind, optimize your emails to improve your brand reach and overcome rookie mistakes.
But by doing an inbox placement test, you’ll be seeing a screenshot of your emails that represent exactly what your subscribers see. The trial and error process may be exhausting but the result can be rewarding because you eventually catch the problem before you even send them.
By doing an inbox placement test, you as a sender will see areas in which you can improve, such as having proper feedback loops, reducing image sizes in email, and more. All these are the fun part of an email marketer’s life.
There you go. Happy inboxing!
Ready to put what you learned into practice? InboxAlly has the essential tools you need to optimize your email marketing campaigns today!