Note: This post is part of a special holiday blog series created by our Expert Services Team at SendGrid to provide information on how to prepare and get the most out of your email campaigns this year.

You just sent a holiday email campaign and have a specific target goal of revenue that will tell you if it went well. How do you find out early on if it won’t hit that goal? There are great specialized third-party tools that can give you indicators of success or issues on certain campaigns.

But more importantly, these tools can alert you to any red flags that could affect your upcoming campaigns and if you should think about paring down your email frequency or recipients list.

Your core email statistics showing delivery rates, open rates, bounce rates, spam reports, and unsubscribes will always be the target focus when measuring email program success. But, coupling that with a few other tools may help you uncover new issues or solidify theories on what is working or what is not for your email strategy.

SNDS and Google Postmaster

For insights into a mailbox provider’s view of your sender reputation, Microsoft and Google offer two great tools.

SNDS (Smart Network Data Services): SNDS offers a “traffic light” grading scale for each sending IP that highlights “spam trigger” likelihood during active sending time periods.

What it doesn’t do: It doesn’t say that your email necessarily went to the spam folder. It is just saying that Microsoft filters had spam “triggers” occur within a certain percentage of active sending time periods.

Lots of “red” grades is bad and a lot of “green” is good. If you are looking bad, I would recommend not sending as aggressively to Microsoft domains in the near future because that could exaggerate the issue.

Google Postmaster: This offers four “buckets” of reputation by domain or IP as well as a great “Feedback Loop” feature that lists results around what gmail users are marking you as spam. If you are in the “High” bucket there is a good chance you are getting delivered to the inbox. “Medium” carries a slightly lower chance of that but still ok. “Low” is leaning toward spam folder placement and “Bad” means that a significant portion (if not all) of your mail may have been placed in the spam folder that day.

What it doesn’t do: The “Feedback Loop” tool, unfortunately, doesn’t always report every single spam complaint. So, like many tools, use it as a temperature gauge and not a 1:1 data point.

For insights into email “red flags” we advise using a tool that can detect specific indicators that may affect reputation.

Measuring spam traps and blacklists

There are also a handful of tools that will tell you if you’ve been a victim of a spam trap or if your email domain has been blacklisted. We recommend the following tools for this:

250OK: This tool set helps detect email programs hitting spam traps (addresses monitored by trap networks that can indicate bad collection practices or a poor sunset policy) and blacklists (a list of IPs or domains that are showing poor sending practices). It will break these out by sending address, IP and other elements of an email program that help detect which campaigns caused negative reputation and therefore delivery results.

BONUS: If you are also looking for indicators of inbox vs spam placement, 250OK also offers a “seed list” tool. Or you can also look at eDataSource which leverages panel data.

There are a lot of moving parts behind successful email campaigns. The tools above will help you get ahead of any potential issues as you head into the holiday season. And if you’re looking for more advice on sending during this time of year, check out SendGrid’s 4th Quarter Email Playbook.

Jacob Hansen
Jacob comes from a background in technical account management and delivery analysis for the last six years, and has been with SendGrid's Deliverability Consultant team for the last two years. He enjoys spreading knowledge to help the email community send more "wanted email" and to help senders realize their full potential. Originally from Nebraska, but living in Colorado long enough for it to feel like home, Jacob enjoys a lot of what the Denver restaurant, bar, brewery and music scenes have to offer.