EmailTooltester is supported by readers like yourself. We may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase through our links. Of course, this won't increase the cost of your subscription.
Update: Please find our latest deliverability test results from Jun 2023 here.
I can’t believe that with this email deliverability test, we’ve completed ten tests to date! It was four years ago that we started testing the top email marketing platforms to determine which had the best email deliverability (and which were the worst email marketing providers).
I have to say that there are always surprises, showing just how important it is to monitor the email deliverability of such tools. After all, what use is an email newsletter if no one reads it because it’s been marked as spam?
If you’d like to make a comparison between this deliverability test and the previous one, check out our results from April 2022.
For those of you who are coming across our deliverability tests for the first time, we have been monitoring the email delivery rates of email marketing services like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber since August 2017.
Five separate tests are carried out over the course of five weeks, using the email delivery checker Glockapps.
This tool provides us with a seedlist (contact list) made up of a variety of popular internet service providers (ISPs). Glockapps then reports the deliverability rates obtained by each of the email service providers, noting whether the emails ended up in the main inbox, Promotions folder, Spam or if they went missing altogether.
We make sure to authenticate all sender subdomains using SPF (sender policy framework) and DKIM, where available, and followed email deliverability best practices.
You can read more about our methodology on our email deliverability test page, and also see how the tools have performed over the years.
To avoid any confusion, let’s answer the question ‘what is email deliverability?’ before we analyze the results.
Email delivery is when an email is successfully delivered to the receiving server.
Email deliverability is when an email successfully arrives in the person’s inbox.
Just because your email was delivered, does not mean that it made it to the right place: the reader’s main inbox. There are, in fact, a number of places your email can end up:
- the spam/junk folder;
- in the case of Gmail, the Promotions tab;
- or, worst of all, it goes missing (undelivered)
The term ‘email deliverability’ covers all the above scenarios, and that’s what we’ve been testing.
If an email ends up in the spam/junk folder or goes missing, it is classed as ‘undelivered’.
Note: In our tests, deliverability was calculated based on the percentage of emails that successfully reached recipients’ mailboxes – regardless of whether they landed in the main inbox or a secondary tab (e.g. Gmail Promotions). If you’re interested in the breakdown between Gmail’s main inbox and the Promotions tab, we cover this in the second table.
Our tests show that the average deliverability rate of all providers tends to be between 83 and 89%. I would consider anything over 89% as a good email deliverability rate. And anything above 95% is excellent. Rates below 80% imply there are some delivery issues that need to be addressed.
There are a few email service providers that consistently score in the early-to-mid nineties, making them our top choices when recommending email marketing platforms to small businesses.
So, without further delay, let’s dive into the results of our latest email deliverability test!
- ActiveCampaign claimed the #1 spot this time with 93%, climbing up 3 positions since the last round with an increase of 2.8%
- Mailchimp scored second place with 92.7%, which is a significant increase of 6.8%.
- MailerLite dropped from the #1 spot to #5 this time with 91.7%, with a drop of 6.3%.
- Brevo (formerly Sendinblue) saw the most significant drop (-21.8%). It is interesting to note that Brevo started the test strongly (91% in the first round), but then continuously deteriorated. This is apparently due to multiple blacklistings.
- CleverReach has done consistently well in our last 5 rounds, and although their deliverability rate dropped slightly this time, they still finished with a pretty solid deliverability rate of 90.9%
The table below shows the averages for where emails ended up for each provider: the main inbox, another tab, the spam folder, or if they went missing.
|EMAIL MARKETING TOOL||MAIN INBOX %||TABS %||SPAM %||MISSING %|
- Benchmark (12.2%), *Drip (11.8%), and Mailjet (8.9%) saw the highest number of emails go missing overall. In fact, all Benchmark emails were blocked by Microsoft and AOL.
- The providers most likely to be flagged as spam were Benchmark (47.8%), Brevo (29.3%), and Drip (26.2%)
- The providers least likely to have emails go missing were CleverReach (2.1%), AWeber (2.7) and MailerLite (3.0%)
- The providers most likely to have emails go missing were Benchmark (12.2%), Drip (11.8%), and Mailjet (8.9%)
There are heaps of mailbox providers out there, and while our tests were sent to over 30 different ISPs internationally, we couldn’t record them all. Instead, they were weighted according to importance. The following table summarizes the average deliverability rates to Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft (Hotmail + Outlook), and AOL. For Gmail, we’ve differentiated between the emails delivered to the main inbox and the Promotions tab.
|TOOL||GMAIL INBOX %||GMAIL PROMOTIONS %||YAHOO %||AOL %||MICROSOFT %|
- The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s main inbox were ActiveCampaign (97%) and CleverReach (88%) and Omnisend (78%)
- The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab were Benchmark (100%), GetResponse (81.5%), and MailerLite (53.85%)
- MailerLite, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, GetResponse, Moosend and Constant Contact landed 100% of emails in Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail, and AOL inboxes.
We’ve seen that deliverability rates tend to fluctuate over time. Just because a tool hasn’t performed quite so well this round, doesn’t mean it doesn't have a good deliverability track record. We’ve assigned a star rating to each provider based on its overall performance over the last 3 rounds of testing. You can also see whether it has performed better or worse compared to the last round.
|TOOL||STAR RATING||CHANGE SINCE LAST ROUND|
With 93%, ActiveCampaign takes the number one spot and our ‘Best email deliverability’ award.
With an average deliverability rate of 94.6%, MailerLite wins our ‘Best of 5’ award for the last five rounds of testing.
In terms of your email marketing strategy, when you’re choosing a provider, make sure that it has good delivery rates. We’d recommend referring to the historical data from all our deliverability tests to see the upward or downward trends of each tool. You can also do your own email delivery testing with email delivery checker, Glockapps.
We have put together a complete guide on email deliverability best practices, where you can find more detailed information on how to improve your email deliverability.
Like every round, this email deliverability test has shown that it’s a good idea to monitor this benchmark carefully and take stock of your own tool’s capabilities.
With the average deliverability for all tools decreasing slightly, this is a clear indication that ISPs’ spam filters are becoming harder to pass through.
As an email marketer, you shouldn’t be sending unsolicited, irrelevant emails, especially not to purchased or scraped email lists (build your own email list instead) – that’s a sure way to get you reported for abuse and have your emails end up in the spam folder.
However, in setting up the exact same conditions for these 15 email service providers, we’ve seen that some are better at bypassing the spam filters than others.
According to our tests, ActiveCampaign is clearly one of the strongest email marketing services when it comes to deliverability right now. And as for MailerLite, despite their drop to fourth place, we've witnessed them land our award for best deliverability in both 2021 and 2022, and also our ‘Best of 5’ award multiple times.
If you’re looking to change services or are just starting out with email marketing, we hope this can serve as a guide when deciding on which provider to go with. However, I recommend that you use it as a reference alongside your own research and make sure to carry out your own tests. You can make the most of free plans and trial periods to run these.
If you’re using a tool that’s at the bottom of the table and whose performance is declining (Benchmark and Brevo) it might be time to reconsider. I’d advise you to take a look at your reports and conduct a few tests of your own using Glockapps or another service.
We run these tests bi-annually, so keep an eye out for the results of our next round towards the end of the year or sign up to receive the results in your inbox below.
Noticed any deliverability issues with your email marketing service? Or have any questions about our tests? Let us know in the comments below!
*Drip unsubscribed 9 contacts from the seedlist, which led to a slightly elevated number of undelivered emails. Unfortunately, we were not able to manually re-subscribe to these contacts.
We keep our content up to date
27 Jan 2023 - Brevo results updated. We noticed that our DKIM signature was not working correctly in the first rounds of testing. Because of this, we corrected the DKIM signature and ran additional tests, which slightly improved Brevo's deliverability score.
This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.Our Methodology