It’s me again with another quick review (my main reviews are usually much more detailed, but some products simply do not need so much coverage). Today we’re taking a look at a product called Mail Monitor – mailmonitor.com
Because this is a really simple product to get your head around, I will try to make this review as straightforward as possible.
What Is Mail Monitor?
Imagine you run or work for a business where you send promotional emails to thousands of people on a regular basis. These emails could be the lifeblood of your business; without people seeing your deals in their inboxes, they aren’t going to come to your site and shop or sign up for your services.
Email service providers like Mailchimp or Aweber can provide you with useful reporting about open rates, click rates, abuse reports etc. However, you don’t get enough insight into how many of your emails are going to spam, how many are going to the inbox as they should be, and how many emails are just plain missing in cyberspace.
Enter Mail Monitor.
It is a service that can help you to monitor and improve your mailbox placement and sender reputation. From the perspective of “what’s in it for me?” this means you are going to be able to get more of your promotional emails into inboxes and out of spam folders, resulting in more sales.
Who wouldn’t want that?
How Much Does It Cost?
There are a few different tiers available for Mailmonitor.com:
You can also opt for annual payment, which gives you 2 months’ free access for whatever tier you pick.
If you go for the monthly option, then you can get a 30 day free trial of Mail Monitor. I’m currently on my 30 day trial. These trials are fully featured, meaning that no functionality is restricted.
How Do I Set It Up?
Once you’ve registered your Mail Monitor account, it’s time to look at setting up your first campaign send in order to gain insights into it.
The process for doing this is a breeze once you work out what you need to do.
Firstly, you have to go to the setup tab. From here there are a few steps to follow. You start by checking which regions you want to test against (for example if you’re a Canadian business and you only care about inbox placement to Canadian email addresses, then you could uncheck everything else).
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PRIMARY WEBMAIL SELECTED, HOWEVER. This is going to give you reporting on email providers like Gmail and Yahoo, the likes of which probably constitute the majority of your email list.
Next, you will see a list of random looking email addresses. You need to copy these and upload them into your email service provider (Mailchimp, Aweber, whatever). You are supposed to add them in batches and randomize the order a bit in order to spread things out and increase reporting accuracy. I was lazy and didn’t bother with this.
These email addresses are what Mail Monitor uses to actually see how your emails are getting placed in various inboxes. I don’t know what they are doing inside the inboxes – maybe there is some guy sitting in SE Asia getting paid pennies per hour to log in and check email inboxes and report back, but I’m going to guess everything is automated!
Finally, you have three options for actually ensuring that Mail Monitor can report back properly.
- Specify the From address(es) you use for your EDMs
- Populate the X-Header of your emails with a campaign ID
- Insert a code snippet into your email you’re going to send out
I chose the third option because it is so easy to add custom code in with Mailchimp. Unless you don’t have the option to add code into your EDMs (in which case WTF kind of ESP are you using?) I really think that this code option is the best.
Once you’ve done that, you can take advantage of Mail Monitor’s previewing service and pre-end spam filter check.
But the real magic works when you hit send on your email, and then come back a few hours later to check:
What Will I See In Reporting?
So you’ve sent out your first EDM/email that is going to be reported on through Mail Monitor … neat!
What will you actually see in the reporting? Here’s an example of two of the emails I have sent through Mail Monitor so far (NB I’m not showing subject line info as these emails are sent for my regular work, and I want to keep that separate from this site). The top line is actually an average of the 2 emails I’ve sent so far.
- Green means email was delivered fine to the inbox
- Yellow means the email was marked as spam
- Red means it is missing (either not enough time has lapsed between the send and checking the report, or the email just straight up got lost in cyberspace)
You can also click in on All ISP Report and see a more detailed breakdown of deliverability and inbox placement percentages for specific email providers:
So for example, on this particular campaign I had 100% spam into Hotmail – NOT GOOD! I’m gonna get a spooning for that one.
And that really is the main functionality of Mail Monitor examined. I will probably come back at some stage and take another look at the previewing options, but I think the meat of this product is really in its reporting on send results. Once you start to send regular campaigns and are able to look back on inbox placement, you can look for common themes that might be hindering your deliverability e.g. excessive use of promotional language like “cheap” “save” etc.
You can also check how your emails performed against common spam filters and DKIM/SPF. Green = good here.
- Fast setup of tracking. Within 10 minutes of creating my Mail Monitor account, I was ready to send out my first campaign from Mailchimp with the tracking code installed.
- My advice is to skip the from address or email header setup and just install the code snippet that powers the Mail Monitor insights. This honestly seems like the easiest option.
- Great deliverability insights. Once the report had enough time to run following the send, I was greeted with some great information about which email providers were giving me good deliverability and which ones were not.
- Global relevance. I live in New Zealand, and the lists/campaigns I am testing with Mail Monitor are really NZ-focused. Although most people use free email providers like Gmail or Hotmail, it was great to see some NZ specific seed email addresses for testing. There are testing option for the Americas, Europe, UK, Australia, Asia and more – awesome!
- Pre send spam testing. Mail Monitor isn’t just useful for analyzing your deliverability and inbox placement “after the fact”. You can test your emails before sending through common spam filters in order to maximise the chance of proper delivery.
- Email previewing. You are probably aware of the annoying fact that different browsers, mobile devices, and OS display images and formatting differently. With Mail Monitor you can preview how your emails are going to display in popular browser and device configurations.
- Blacklist monitoring. Check to make sure your sender email address and ISP aren’t blacklisted. Mail Monitor checks against the major blacklist services.
- Too expensive for small-timers. I’m actually using Mail Monitor as part of my day job, which requires me to send mass emails from an ESP to BIG lists. If you’re an affiliate with a list of a few thousand leads, then Mail Monitor is probably too expensive for you. This is really a B2B product aimed at eCommerce businesses or other businesses that have a need to send emails to large databases.
- Setup instructions not detailed enough. Although setting up your sends is easy with Mail Monitor, I do feel that the instructions for loading in your leads, setting the from addresses/HTML tag etc could all be improved. Just a brief video on each point would help less tech savvy individuals get started. The FAQ/help is not detailed enough for my liking.
- Hard to be sure of accuracy. I’d imagine that Mail Monitor’s results are a bit like exit polling – useful, but always remember to take with a grain of salt. You can read an overall trend and get some good insights, but because you aren’t privy to what happens to every single email sent out (instead you are seeing results based on extrapolation) you cannot be 100% sure that the reporting you see is an accurate reflection of what is actually happening to your EDMs.
- Gmail tab placement only for enterprise tier. This is a feature that I believe allows you to see how many of your EDMs are going to the regular inbox tab on Gmail, and how many are going to promotions. Unfortunately, you only get access to this if you have the top priced tier, which is a shame 🙁
Although I’ve only used Mail Monitor a few times, I can definitely see some value in this product. If you are running a business that depends on promoting emails getting into clients’ inboxes in order to make sales, then this product can really help you to get some good clarity as to where your emails are winding up and why your deliverability isn’t as good as it could be.
There are definitely more powerful solutions out there, but for the price (and the fact that you can get a fully-featured 30 day trial) I really don’t see why you wouldn’t want to give Mail Monitor a shot.
It does cost a bit of money. But think about the fact that if you could get even 1% more of your list seeing and clicking on your emails, you could very quickly earn that cost back. If you rely on emailing a list to make money, then you need a tool like this. It really is that simple.
It’s not 100% accurate, but there are some great insights to be gleaned from using it. Go sign up today, set up your next campaign with Mail Monitor, and work hard to determine how you can improve your deliverability.
Mail Monitor Review
Value For Money
Ease Of Use
If you're worried that your bulk emails (sent through a platform like Mailchimp or Aweber) are disappearing into the ether and not getting delivered, then Mail Monitor is definitely worth a try and maybe even a buy. It's not perfect and it is quite expensive, but it is easy to get started with and does a good job at helping you to identify deliverability issues and then fix them. It certainly bailed me out of the s**t with a mail deliverability problem I had on a large database of almost 70,000 leads.