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Brad Edmundson


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    Using and Interpreting 250ok Seed Tests


    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    Once you have 250ok all setup there are many ways you can use it. This article aims to educate you on how to use your account, a few use cases of how you can use 250ok in your business, and how to interpret the results of your seed tests.

    Using 250ok

    There are two main ways to run a seed tests. A send to your seed list alone to test email content by itself, or including your seed list on a broadcast to see what effect your list has on deliverability.

    Use Cases

    250ok can be used in a variety of ways. Here are just a few ways that you can use 250ok to gauge results and improve your inbox rates.

    Blanket inclusion

    One use case is to include your seed list on every large send that you do, that way you can compare and contrast how messages perform when you use different content, subject lines, and send times. This will also show you how mailing your list affects inbox rates. This can tend to be costly at $10 per seed test, but if you want good visibility into where your emails are landing it can be useful.

    Content testing

    This use case involves sending a seed test only to your seed list to get a gauge on how your content and sender information affects deliverability. You can use this as a preventative measure before you send your mailings to ensure that your content will not get you sent to spam. You can also do this to compare different types of content and subject lines by sending seed tests back to back and making changes to the content in between tests.

    Spot checking

    If you would like to have a regular view of your deliverability but your pockets are not deep enough to run a seed test with every mailing you can still get a good idea of how you are doing by running a seed test on every 3rd or 4th mailing that you do.

    NOTE: Seed tests that you run by only sending to your seed list are to test content. The list that you are mailing has an impact on how your messages are delivered so results on content tests vs mailing tests can differ.


    It's common for marketers who see this data for the first time to have a nervous breakdown. We don't want that, so here are some things to consider as you read and interpret these results:

    NOTE: Before contacting our postmasters about your seed test results please review our Email Delivery 101 article and read our Marketer's Deliverability Handbook to ensure that you are following best practices.

    First of all, recognize that the powers that be (Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook) are all TRYING to separate your marketing emails from their recipients. It's your job to give them no reason to do that.

    The overall average inbox rating for marketing mail is ~85%. This number can fluctuate heavily depending on your niche, list collection habits, and general email practices.

    - Expect to see problems with Hotmail. Don't trip. Hotmail probably represents less than 5% of your list, and people who use Hotmail are used to not getting emails they expect, because Hotmail is the harshest filterer of all ISPs by far.

    If you see less than 80% delivery to Hotmail, we may have some ideas for you. Get in touch.

    - When ESPs make claims about 99.9% delivery rate, they're lying. What they mean by this is 99.9% of the email we send doesn't bounce back, but much less ends up in the actual Primary Inbox. If you're hitting >90% you should feel proud of yourself.
    If you're hitting >85%, you are doing well, but may be able to improve.
    If it's less than <80%, then you have a problem and we should talk. Feel free to send an email to

    - A huge amount of mail is managed my Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. Focus on those. You should be able to hit 100% in those ISPs if your mailing program is well managed (with the possible exception of Microsoft). If you're not, we should talk.

    - There are many international ISPs included in 250ok’s tests and some of these ISPs filter messages based on language. If you are sending in English do not be surprised if Japanese ISPs do not deliver your mail at the same rate as ISPs that serve primarily English speaking users.

    - If you are not getting 100% delivery to an ISP with a weight of '0' don't sweat it. That ISP has no presence in your list, and has no impact on the mail that you are actually sending.



    Q. Why are my seed tests not getting 100% inbox rate?

    A. Bulk emails are marked differently and treated differently than normal one-to-one emails. Bulk emails never get a 100% inbox rate (it just does not happen). Our best mailers usually see inbox rates of 90 - 95%. An 80% or higher inbox rate is considered decent. If your inbox rate dips below 80% contact our Postmasters at They can help you get your numbers up.

    Q.How do I get setup with my own 250ok child account?

    A. Please read the article Managing Email Delivery with 250ok and send an email with the information requested.

    Q.Why would I need this?

    A. If your business bases a large portion of its promotion or sales on email moving the needle on your inbox rates a few percentage points can result in large increases in the audience you reach and thus your bottom line income. 250ok is a tool built to help you find issues and move that needle.

    Q. My tests are taking a long time to complete, can I fix this?

    A. Yes, if you login to 250ok, click your email in the top right, and go to “settings” you will see your “Inbox Informant Settings”. By default seed tests wait 72 hours for emails to be delivered before finalizing the test. This can be changed by changing the “Campaign Duration” drop down. The number listed is the number of hours that 250ok will wait before finalizing a seed test. (ONTRAPORT waits 10 hours in most cases, if an email is not delivered after that we assume it is not coming in).

    Prior article: Getting Started in 250ok

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