email consultants

The Role of Seed Lists in the Age of Engagement

Seed lists are commonplace among marketers, as one of the email marketing best practices email consultants recommend. However, with all the changes in our industry, at least one email expert is looking at the role of seed lists with an objective eye.

George Bilbrey is president of Return Path and founder of the industry’s first deliverability service provider, Assurance Systems. He asks, “does seed list deliverability monitoring still work?”

He asks, because with the changes in the email marketing industry, with ISPs looking at inbox engagement, the need for a seed list is called into question. Or is it?

Although it is top of mind and a top concern for email consultants and marketers, very few ISPs are using engagement to rate your email. As Bilbrey says:

“Our seed lists cover 142 ISPs, and only three or four (Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail and, it appears , AOL) are even starting to test using engagement.  Therefore, for a great majority of ISPs, seed-list-based monitoring still works as an extremely accurate proxy for your overall deliverability rates.”

He talks about why to keep using your seed list but things to be aware of, lessons learned from their study of their own 142 strong seed list.

His conclusion? “Seed lists are still very useful for determining inbox placement rates and doing root cause analysis on why emails are not being delivered to the inbox.” However, he also argues that monitoring your email deliverability rates moving forward will require subscriber data combined with seed lists.

For help using both seed lists and data to improve email delivery, call upon the email consultants at ClickMail Marketing.

Read more about the continued importance of seed lists in the age of engagement here.

Published On: March 23rd, 2012Categories: Email deliverability

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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