Proven Way To Test Email Deliverability in 2023 (+Tactics)

Proven Way To Test Email Deliverability in 2023 (+Tactics)

Vladyslav Podoliako
Mar 03, 2023
Reading duration
8 min

We’ve all been there before: spending ample time creating eye-popping design & compelling copy for your email, only for it to get bounced back because of a failed spam filter test.

If this is you, you’re likely experiencing what we’d like to dub the ‘modern marketer’s nightmare’ — email deliverability issues. These could spring from a poor sender reputation to flagging spam filters, high bounces, low engagement, sudden spikes in email campaigns, and other non-intuitive issues explaining why my emails are going to spam.

Think of it like a game of soccer. You can pass the ball all around the field till you get blue in the face, but until the ball enters the goalpost, you’ve not won. Your email campaign is that soccer ball; without your emails landing in your recipient’s inbox, all your resources, efforts, and time wouldn’t count for much. 

Data from ReturnPath’s Deliverability Benchmark Report suggests that only 79% of commercial emails land in the inbox. This means 1 out of 5 emails fail to reach the inbox. As such, email campaigns are hardly a set-and-forget affair. This brings up the need to have a proven way to test email for deliverability. 

Here, we highlight certain crucial touchpoints of your email campaign to check your email placement. With firms like Somnowell rightly striking gold with our blueprint to skyrocket email deliverability rates, we’ll let you in on a trusted tool + tactics to bring an uptick in your email marketing campaign outcomes.

Article Guide:

1) Email Deliverability vs Delivery Rate: Difference & When To Test
2) 5-Step Checklist To Test Email Deliverability Manually
3) A Proven Method To Test Email Deliverability With a Tool
4) Wrapping Up: It’s Time To Spark an Upsurge in Deliverability

Email Deliverability vs Delivery Rate: What (And When) Do You Need To Test?

Though different, both terms are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. While 30% of marketing survey respondents use delivery rate to measure the success of email campaigns, only 10% concentrate on inbox placement rate instead. Let’s distinguish between these two:

Delivery rate measures the percentage of your emails that reach your subscribers' mailboxes, even if they end up in the dreaded spam or junk folder.  Whereas deliverability is the ultimate indicator of whether your emails are making it to the recipient’s inbox

As such, you can have a great delivery rate (an average of 98.5%), yet suffer a poor deliverability rate. Broadly speaking, your email journey is more complex than you may realize. 

So, when should you run an email deliverability test

The data says the average email deliverability rate is 88.9%, and anywhere around 85% and above is good. However, a deliverability rate below 85% requires a test before your next campaign. 

Folderly team recommends to test email deliverability regularly, without any external factors, during two stages:

1) Before kicking off your email campaign (yes, every campaign)
2) During your email campaign

However, you definitely must test it ASAP if you answer "NO" to one of the following questions:

  • Is your delivery rate higher than 95%?
  • Is your bounce rate (combined both hard and soft bounces) lower than 3%? 
  • Is your spam (complaint) rate lower than 0.1%.? (The industry standard limit is one complaint per one thousand emails).

So, if you have checked these rates and feel that the statistic are not as satisfactory as could be — it’s high time to test your email deliverability.

Checklist for Testing Email Deliverability Manually 

Let this checklist be your guide when performing your (manual) email deliverability test

(PRE-SEND) Filter your email content for spam triggers

Before sending an email, double-check to see if certain spam triggers might be lurking in your content. Spam triggers are elements that dub your email as shady, malicious, spammy, containing malware or any undesirable content.

Avoid using overused or offensive words, symbols, excessive punctuation, and using all CAPS. These triggers increase the probability of your mail landing in the junk folder. (check this laundry list of such spam trigger words)

Again, avoid using attachments to share files in your email since they’re at high risk of carrying viruses. Instead, use hyperlinks, but don't shorten the link

Finally, don't be generic. Emails with personalized subject lines are 22% more likely to be noticed and opened. Draw in your audience using their first name in the subject line to keep things more personal. Keep your content simple, witty, and conversational.

(PRE-SEND) Check to see that your domain has not been blacklisted

Your domain reputation, a score between 0 to 100, which is assigned to every domain name, plays a crucial role in shaping your email deliverability.

Blocked domains occur when your domain has a history of sending spam messages, has been reported severally as spam, or isn't verified. To avoid this, you can get a custom domain and a dedicated email address for your mailings.

To check if your domain is blacklisted, first, find out the cause. Then, check the company where your domain is blacklisted and request to have your domain removed. Read more on how to remove a domain name from the blacklist manually, in a few simple steps.

(PRE-SEND) Monitor your IP reputation

Your IP address is a vital email delivery checkpoint. With the need for a solid reputation to make deliverability effective, there’re a few factors that could affect your IP reputation:

  • Sharing IP addresses — as opposed to dedicated IP addresses — with users whose activities do not align with best practices, which can, in turn, hurt your IP reputation; 
  • Subscribers flagging your email as spam;
  • Not warming up your IP address; and
  • Sending an unusually high volume of emails.

Is your IP on the blacklist? Don’t fret. You can fix this using IP checking tools to monitor your IP reputation, warm up your IP address, provide an unsubscribe button option for inactive users, and use a customized IP address.

(SEND) Send emails to your trusted email addresses for test

You can send emails to your personal email addresses to double-check its deliverability and how it generally looks. Also, it matters in terms of warming up your domain. The average cold email bounce rate is 7.5%, and warmup can address this matter.

So, here’s a step-by-step guide on testing email deliverability manually:

- Create a list of valid and trusted email addresses for testing.

Ideas for the testing lists: 

  • Your partners
  • Your colleagues
  • Your friends and relatives
  • Fellow professionals
  • Long-time customers

- Send 10-15 test emails and ask your recipients with different ESPs to tell you if your email is delivered to spam. 

FYI: If you work for a B2B audience, you'll need to check paid services like Office 365 and Google Workspace. Though emails are delivered by the same email clients (Outlook and Office 365, Gmail and Google Workspace), their spam filters work differently. 

The main point is to check the mail servers you plan to send real email campaigns to. Otherwise, such a test won't be informative.

(POST-SEND) Check your bounce rates and opening rates

DMA’s Email Deliverability Report conducted in 2020 suggested that marketers keep an eye out for these metrics for deliverability tests: 

  • Low engagement (44%);
  • Bounce rates (50%);
  • Inbox placement (40%); and
  • Spam complaints (29%)

Open rates show the number of times your audience opens your mailings. If the open rate is high, it means your email deliverability is stable. On the other hand, bounce rates higher than 40% show mailings that fail to reach the recipient's inbox. You want your engagement level to reflect a high open rate and a low bounce rate.

But even when you know that percentage, how to understand if it is okay? And if not, how to increase this parameter, and what and are there other factors impacting your sender score?

A free online testing tool will tell more.

Admittedly, manual checks of email deliverability tests can be overwhelming, especially if you have a large audience.

6 Steps To Test Your Email Deliverability With Tools (from A-Z)

In 2020, the e-mail marketing soft market size was estimated at 1.13 billion U.S. dollars. Hundreds of email deliverability checkers exist in the market. 

However, most tools are widely known for providing creative guidance like email templates and other pointers to help prevent sending to non-existent mailboxes and other insight into bounce rate, open rate, and engagement. 

Folderly is a full-service email testing and optimization tool that leverages advanced AI algorithms + professional human interaction to test email deliverability and side-step any email delivery pitfalls

Thanks to the user-friendly interfaces and robust testing capabilities, testing with tools like Folderly is a breeze and can be done within just a few minutes. Also, you can request a deeper approach to your email deliverability, and Folderly dedicated email deliverability expert will walk you through the process of achieving your inbox excellence.

Here’s a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Sign up for a Folderly account on the website Input your email address and create a password.


Step 2: Log in to access the dashboard. In the dashboard, click on "Create a new project." Choose a name for your project and select your email service provider.


Folderly supports many email providers, so you don't have to worry if you're not using the popular ones. Follow the prompts to allow Folderly to access your email account.


Step 3: Once Folderly connects with your email, a list of email addresses associated with that account will appear. Select the one you want to check email deliverability and click "New Test."


Step 4: Choose an email template for a new email deliverability test.


Step 5: After you click on Start Test, Folderly will run an email deliverability check


It only takes a few minutes, and you can track the progress in real-time, after which you’ll receive a report showing the number of test emails delivered, the bounce rate, and how many entered the spam.


Step 6: Folderly will also interpret the results by showing you issues affecting deliverability. It could range from email content to sender reputation or email authentication. 

Folderly will also suggest steps to improve your email deliverability. Follow the suggestions and work on these deliverability issues. You can also use the platform to check email deliverability and address the problems immediately.


Wrapping Up: It’s Time To Spark an Upsurge in Deliverability

The number of global e-mail users will grow to 4.6 billion in 2025. So, excellent email deliverability can become your winning strategy in the upcoming year. 

To ensure your emails are delivered successfully, use Folderly or other similar tools regularly. We’ve drawn from AI technology and the extensive knowledge of email deliverability experts on our way to becoming one of the biggest players on the market regarding email campaigns and transactional emails.

Stop foot-dragging and begin implementing the tips we’ve shared to enhance email campaign performance starting today!

Gain 100% control of your emails placement with real-time email deliverability monitoring, intuitive dashboard, and smart Folderly Score
Proven Way To Test Email Deliverability in 2023 (+Tactics)
Vladyslav Podoliako
Vladyslav Podoliako
Founder & CEO
Vlad is a Founder & CEO of Belkins and Folderly, a series entrepreneur and investor with over ten years of management expertise in companies with 100 million evaluation. Vlad has years of experience building and growing service companies and SaaS startups in SalesTech and MarTech. He is skilled in creating successful businesses from the ground up and building top-notch teams that drive all ventures to the top of their industries.

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