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Update: Please find our latest deliverability test results from Jun 2023 here.
In light of receiving such great feedback from Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of Moz and SparkToro, we were eager to get our next round of deliverability results out. When Rand shouted us out on Twitter back in May we were mid-test and keen to see how the email providers had done compared to our previous email deliverability test from earlier this year.
We’re thrilled to release the long-awaited results! But first:
What's Email Deliverability And Why Does it Matter?
What's the use in spending time creating an email newsletter for it just to end up in Spam, or even worse, go undelivered? We've seen that different newsletter services have different deliverability rates, so choosing the right one could mean the difference between a successful campaign and a flop.
So, what’s new this round?
This round came with quite a few surprises and just goes to show that no email marketing platform can ever rest on their laurels when it comes to email deliverability.
This was our fourth round of testing to date and marks almost 2 years since we started what we consider to be very worthwhile testing in the bid to monitor the deliverability rates of the world’s most popular email marketing services.
This round we added 3 new email providers – Mailjet, Newsletter2Go and CleverReach – and tested deliverability when sending HTML templates, rather than simple plain text emails. As with previous rounds, we tested the different email marketing services in five separate tests, using the delivery testing tool Glockapps (you can read more about our methodology here).
Are you ready to hear how all 14 email marketing platforms performed? We’ve broken down the results in this detailed infographic. Check them out!
Email Deliverability Rankings: Takeaways
- 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)
- ActiveCampaign was knocked off the top spot as they saw a dip in email deliverability rates, which gave other providers a shot at getting the top spot. They scored 93.8% in this round compared to 97% in the previous round. Despite this, they still did the best of all providers getting their emails into Gmail’s main inbox
- MailerLite has seen a huge improvement in deliverability rates, claiming the #1 spot. We know that MailerLite has really prioritized deliverability rates in the past year, and it’s really paying off!
- Benchmark has continued to drop significantly, with average deliverability at an all-time low of 41.8%. It’s a real shame because they are a very easy-to-use tool with a great range of high-quality templates.
- It’s interesting to note that some of the most popular email marketing services – AWeber and GetResponse – still have room for improvement as they scored just ‘okay’ rates of deliverability (between 80-90%)
Where Did the Emails End up?
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.
|TOOL||MAIN INBOX %||TABS %||SPAM %||MISSING %|
- The providers least likely to have emails end up in spam were MailerLite (4.7%) and Active Campaign (5.8%) and Constant Contact (6.3%)
- The providers most likely to be flagged as spam were Benchmark (37.3%), AWeber (17.8%) and Mailify (16.4%)
Deliverability to Most Popular Mailbox Providers
There are tons of mailbox providers out there, and while our tests were sent to over 30 different ISPs internationally, we couldn’t record all of them. 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 that arrived in the main inbox and the Promotions tab.
|TOOL||GMAIL INBOX %||GMAIL PROMOTIONS %||YAHOO %||MICROSOFT %||AOL %|
- The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s main inbox were ActiveCampaign and Brevo, in fact, 94.7% of emails ended up there! Though MailerLite has the #1 spot overall, they could do with getting more emails out of the Promotions tab and into the main inbox.
- The providers most likely to end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab were Newsletter2Go (54.7%) and Mailjet (40%). This is not good news, as the likelihood of your emails getting read decreases quite a bit
- Compared to the last round of testing, Active Campaign, GetResponse and Constant Contact didn’t find it so easy to land their newsletters in Gmail’s main inbox – last time they landed 100% of emails there. Other providers (who landed 40% there last time) managed to get a much more significant proportion of the emails in the main inbox this time (61% and upwards)
- Benchmark saw an average of 20% of emails getting through to Gmail, Outlook or Hotmail mailboxes – a slight improvement from the last round where 0% got through. However, this wasn’t enough to help their overall deliverability score, which only continues to decline
- ActiveCampaign, MailerLite, Constant Contact, Drip, Newsletter2Go and CleverReach were able to reach Outlook and Hotmail inboxes 100% of the time
Overall Ratings Based on Historical Performance
Just because a tool hasn’t performed quite so well this round, doesn’t mean they don’t have a good deliverability track record. Here, we’ve assigned a star rating to each provider, based on their overall performance over the last three rounds of testing. You can also see whether they’ve improved or deteriorated in performance since the last round.
|TOOL||STAR RATING||CHANGE SINCE LAST ROUND|
MailerLite takes our number one spot, as well as our ‘Best deliverability’ award.
Brevo wins our ‘Most improved’ award for deliverability, with a 17.5% improvement from 2018.
How Does this Affect my Email Marketing Strategy?
Got the feeling your emails aren’t reaching your clients? After putting so much effort into your email marketing campaigns, it would be such a shame to see your open-rate so low because your users haven’t checked their spam folder – or worse still, your email never arrived at all.
That’s why email deliverability is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an email provider. With deliverability rates of our tested tools ranging from 41 to 94%, you can basically double or halve the success rate of your campaign by using the right (or wrong!) tool.
Of course, in spite of our best efforts to establish the same testing conditions for each tool, it’s true that other factors can play an important role. As the sender, you have a responsibility to do your best to increase deliverability by authenticating emails and following best practice guidelines for creating and sending emails.
How to Improve my Own Email Deliverability
We hope that these results can help you decide on the best email provider for your email marketing campaigns, but we recommend you use it as a reference alongside your own research.
We encourage you to take advantage of free plans or trial periods to really test the tool’s deliverability out. You can use the tool we use, Glockapps, to do so – click here to see a sample report from them).
Regardless of the tool you use, you should always follow best practice guidelines for creating and sending emails, and try to keep your spam score low and authenticate emails using SPF and DKIM. Keep an eye on your stats, particularly on open and click-through rates and use a deliverability tool to run tests.
Make sure to check out how all the email providers we’ve tested have done over the various rounds of testing.
Noticed any deliverability issues with your email marketing service? Or have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!
We keep our content up to date
4 Feb, 2020 - Updated infographic and table with correct star rating
This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.Our Methodology