Email deliverability tools are always in style. We are always focused on reaching the highest rates of inbox placements as email marketers. Finding a tool that is simple to use, gives valuable insights and is free – that’s the issue some businesses face.

Below I’ll share my favorite tools – some I’ve been using for several years now, some are very easy. Others would required a better understanding of the subject. But worry not – there is something for everyone.

And if you are currently doing a deliverability audit, this is definitely a good place to start.

Email Deliverability

I get this question often – don’t all emails we send get to our customers? Unfortunately, not. We did a very simple infographic on the topic a couple of years ago – and all these elements are still valid.

Infographic by Buzz Fixer - Email Deliverability - message elements.

Email deliverability relies on 2 main factors – the sender’s reputation and the message triggers. The graphic above focuses on the message issues you might be making. Check out the blog series Emails the Convert for full info on each of those 9 topics.

What is “Sender Reputation”

It is exactly what it sounds like – the Inbox Service Providers (ISPs) like Gmail, Outlook, YahooMail, all keep score of your previous mail sends.

If you sent a SPAMy-looking email to a cold list some years ago and plan to use that same domain address for your next marketing campaign, think twice. It’s written in the server filters and you would probably experience bad results.

So what affects your Sender Reputation?

Where do we begin:

  • Bounce Rates – how many of the emails you send are returned. If you have an old list with many unused email addresses, you’ll be in danger. Try to keep a low bounce rate – anything above 5-7% might be an issue.
  • Previous bad behaviour – if you’ve used the email address to send out something that a filter would consider spam, you better get a brand new domain address. Speaking of which…
  • Brand new domains – if your domain is brand new, or you plan to change the email address domains, make sure you practice IP warming first. You start by gradually increasing the number of emails you send week after week for the first month. Don’t email 50 000 people daily from your brand new domain. You’ll need another one sooner than you expect.
  • DKIM and SPF keys – those two are more technical. When you use a marketing tool to send emails from your behalf, you better have those 2 added to your domain. They tell the ISPs that the email marketing tool is allowed to email from your domain. Otherwise it might be considered as unauthorised and therefor – SPAM.

Tools to audit your email deliverability

A very basic audit can be completed in 30 mins. You can use the tools below to discover potential issues and ways to fix them.

1. Mail-Tester

This is a free tool that everyone probably already knows about. You send a test email – or better schedule a real one – to a unique disposable address they give you. Once the email message is received, they give you a score of 0-10 and recommendations on how to improve it.

Mail-tester email deliverability tools
The team behind Mail Tester are fans of cheeky design but the service is awesome and free
Mail-Tester email deliverability report - results

You can also use their SPF & DKIM check for a fast way to make sure your settings are correct.

2. Litmus – Which Gmail Tab

Litmus is the industry standard tool. But their Gmail tab testing tool is free and offers valuable insights.

Litmus - Gmail Tabs tool
Step 1 – copy the test email and send one email message.
Litmus - Gmail Tab results
Step 2 – Check the verdict

3. Sparkpost

This one requires a very big amount of email sends in order to give results. And even then it might not give you anything. Here is a test I did with a random big sender – seems like Target has some email optimisation to take care of.

sparkpost - email deliverability report
Sample results from SparkPost

The also offer DKIM and SPF inspectors

4. MX toolbox

This is a stable in my toolbox – I check here to see if a domain I’m managing has been blacklisted or if the DMARC policy is implemented correctly.

Run the audit

Using the email deliverability tools above, I recommend you go step by step and record the results. Go through each recommendation one by one, read about it, implement the required changes.

Then run the tests again.

And remember – your email deliverability is only as good as you make it to be!