Email Seed Testing: Truth vs. Myth

Over the course of the past couple of decades, email marketers have been pummeled with information and content on email list maintenance, email validation, and email seed testing.  With so much information available online, it’s hard to decipher what’s true and what’s myth.

To help you navigate the email marketing information minefield, we’re ready to set the records straight and separate truth from fiction.  So, let’s jump in and get the low down what you need to know about email seed testing and email list management and why both are important to your growing digital marketing strategy.

What is an Email Seed List?

In a nutshell, an email seed list is a list of email addresses that you will send an email to before you send the email out to your intended target audience.  This list allows you to test across various browsers, ISPs, and even device types.  Basically, you’ll be able to see how your email will appear and interact with each of these before you make it live.

Traditionally, companies created email seed lists that were full of employee personal emails.  As this practice has grown, it has expanded to test accounts which have been opened for the sole purpose of email marketing testing.  While some companies opt to take on this task themselves, many chose instead to work with outside vendors that specialize in this field and handle the ongoing tasks of managing and maintaining the lists on their behalf (which is typically the more practical and economic course for most companies to follow).

What are the Benefits of Email Seeds?

The main benefits are that you’ll be able to fix any display and engagement issues before sending out your email or email campaign.  You never want to send an email to potential or current customers that won’t display or that has broken links appearing.  This is clearly just bad form.  Too many emails like that and people will simply delete without opening or unsubscribe from your marketing emails entirely.

By running a seed test, you’ll learn:

  • Which specific ISPs are delivering your email to the inbox
  • How your list quality affects the delivery of your email
  • Whether the content of your email affects the delivery of your email
  • How fast your email is being delivered

You’ll also be able to ensure what you’re sending will have little to no impact on your overall email reputation (lowering your chances of being marked as spam or ending up in spam folders instead of targeted inboxes).  

Myth: Email Validation is Enough

Many believe that installing a process of email validation into a marketing strategy is enough.  While that is an important element, it’s not enough to keep your marketing emails out of the spam folder and to protect your sender reputation.  

Before you send any marketing emails or newsletters, you should run them through an email deliverability tool.  These tools, like those offered by the MailMonitor Suite of Tools, will use email seed testing techniques to help you spot issues and fix them before you send your email.  The truth is, this one step in your email marketing process can vastly increase your probability of getting your marketing emails to land in the inbox of your target audience and to been seen.

Myth: Email Seed Testing Won’t Protect Sender Reputation

Your reputation plays a huge role in determining how successful your email campaign will be. It is a measure of your credibility. The truth is, a poor sender reputation will harm your email marketing campaigns. If the emails you are creating don’t display correctly or appear to be spamish, odds are that users will mark them as spam.

If subscribers complain about you to your Email Service Provider, your reputation will go down. The ESP will consider you as spam and subsequent email messages from you will be treated as spam.

Most ISPs will automatically reject emails from anyone with a low email sender score.  The biggest reason why your emails are not delivered is due to a low sender score. ISPs automatically reject any emails that fall below a certain score.

Email reputation, or sender scores, range from 1 to 100.  The higher your score, the better.  It’s important to keep track of your score.  There are several free tools you can use to help you check your score on a monthly basis.

The email seed testing process allows you to get a sense for how your emails will appear and be precieved before you send them.  This will give you the chance to resolve any issues and send out emails that won’t raise any flags or that are less likely to reported as spam by users.  Thus, email seed testing actually plays a huge role in protecting your email sender reputation and your overall email deliverability rate.

Truth: Email List Management is a Must

While email seed testing is a hugely important element, one of the most important elements of a successful email marketing strategy is your email list management process. 

What cleaning a list will surely do is help you get rid of all those stale addresses. However, you should never expect List Cleansing services to be a one-stop solution to all your worries, as it is not going to help you with issues like spam traps, blacklists or abuse complaints.

To keep from sending to old emails, receiving bounces, or being reported for spamming, you should perform an email list audit monthly or quarterly.  Additionally, break your overall email pool into small, targeted email lists.  This will allow you to target your message based on the demographics or behavior of a specific group (like loyal shoppers, customers you haven’t heard from in a while, new customers, etc.).  The more targeted the message, the more effective the email campaign.

Truth: Incorrect Use of Email Seed Testing Can be Damaging

When used

Because the email addresses in seed lists are test accounts, there is no engagement associated with them. As a result, ISPs see these accounts as inactive. Emailing to an inactive account can affect a sender’s IP/ domain reputation and can result in heavy spam foldering. 

Let’s Talk Email Seed Testing!

Are you ready to talk about this article, and allow us to answer any questions you may have regarding our products or services? MailMonitor would love to chat more with you about this topic, or anything else related to our industry.

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