November 12, 2019

Ask LB: When should I be seed testing?

Hey LB,

Now that I’ve got access to a seedlist testing tool, when should I actually test my seedlist? Is it best to test before, after, or during sending? What are your tips for getting the most out of seedlist testing?

Uncertainly yours,
Dr. When

Hi Dr. When,

This is a great question, and the answer is you should employ a variety of different tactics varying based on your objective. In fact, we just recently covered how to seed test triggered emails. Generally, when it comes to seedlist testing new content or changes in cadence, you may want to temporarily modify your seeding behavior, because they will each give you slightly different information.

  1. Before a piece of content is sent: Here’s where you identify any showstopper problems in advance of a large send, and perhaps speculate on probable reception. If open rates are lower than expected, it can indicate send volume was larger than the reputation could support over that period of time.
  2. After an important send: This checks how your inbox placement looks after a specific volume was sent. Often I recommend doing this in conjunction with a “before the send” test to determine how the volume of the send impacted deliverability. Bear in mind the change may be none, which indicates the send volume is within what your reputation can support.
  3. Week-over-week static content test: This test involves choosing either a single piece of content or several pieces of content representative of the typical messages you send, and sending them at the same time each week. This allows you to develop a baseline for sender reputation over time, since the content variable is being controlled. We’ve gone over this particular topic, and it’s a helpful look at how to determine when a “heartbeat test” is right for you.
  4. Testing content from multiple networks: This test is for senders using multiple systems to send their email. The idea is to send substantially identical content from multiple different systems at roughly the same time to see if different sending infrastructures produce different results. This can be especially important if you are using shared IPs at any of these infrastructures, to gauge the quality of those shared assets.
  5. Content variations: This is a good follow-up test to run if your most recent seed test featuring rich content performed worse than average or expected. Sending just the text decreases the complexity of the email and the number of things the spam filter has to consider. This lets you determine if the issue is more likely tied to the content or the sender reputation.

This should set you well on your way to seed test nirvana. Enjoy your new tools, and let us know if you have any questions!

Author: LoriBeth Blair

LoriBeth "LB" Blair is an email geek with experience working for two ESPs and her own private deliverability consulting practice.

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