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Google Postmaster Tools for Deliverability and Domain Reputation

Google Postmaster Tools for Deliverability and Domain Reputation

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With over 20 years of experience in the world of email including email marketing, strategy, and program consultation; deliverability metrics tracking; analytics; and deliverability consultation, dmarcian Senior Account Manager Jason Crichton shares his insights on Google Postmaster Tools and how you can leverage them to build and maintain your email sending reputation.

For email marketers, reputation is everything. If you have a reputation of sending interesting and meaningful content that your readers want to see then you will see positive deliverability metrics and return on investment. Conversely, if you are sending the wrong message to the wrong people, then those people will not find your messaging engaging and worthwhile to them.

In the latter scenario this will lead to your emails being ignored and deleted, or marked as spam—this damages your reputation over time. But what if I told you there is a way, a free way, to get a good idea of what people think of you and your reputation as an email marketer? This could help you either maintain your positive reputation or identify where to course correct.

As you may already know, Gmail is the dominant email provider in the email space across the world. With an estimated 1.8 billion email users around the world, according to Porch Media Group, saying that sending to your Gmail audience is important would be an understatement, to put it lightly. Because Gmail has such a large user base, it is considered to be the most coveted email audience in many marketing lists for performance and value.

Google Postmaster Tools is a free dashboard that Google offers to senders in order to monitor the performance of their IPs and domains for recipients using Gmail addresses. In order to set up Google Postmaster Tools you’ll need to validate proper ownership of your domain by visiting

How to set up Google Postmaster Tools

You will want to follow the instructions that Google provides to walk you through once you select Get Started. You will need a Google or Google Workspaces account in order to proceed with this process. This process does involve modifying your DNS record which may require the assistance of an IT administrator to accomplish.

Google Postmaster data points

Once you have verified ownership of your domain in the Google Postmaster Tools platform, you will have access to data points for your domain/IP’s, which Google collects in the following areas:

  • Spam rate
  • IP reputation
  • Domain reputation
  • Authentication
  • Encryption
  • Delivery errors

Note that Google Postmaster Tools only returns data for days in which a particular amount of volume has been seen. Google does not state what this volume threshold is, though it has been observed that if you are sending over 100 emails on a given day, you will typically see data points returned for that day. Also keep in mind that Google Postmaster Tools data is not real-time data due to the enormous volume of data that Google processes; Google Postmaster Tools data is always 48 hours behind with reporting within the dashboard.

Now that we know what Google Postmaster Tools can show us, let’s take a moment to better understand these items to make the most out of them.

Spam Rate
Spam rate is the percentage, or ratio, of recipients who mark your emails as spam versus the overall amount of email that lands in the inbox. Your goal is to minimize your spam rate by making sure your audience targeting and segmentation are as accurate as you can make them to ensure the right message is being sent to the right people.

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for a .10% spam rate (or lower) with .20% being considered high(er) by Gmail and where you could begin to see reputation and placement issues (being auto filtered to the spam folder, for example) begin to arise more consistently as you approach and exceed this rate.

Google has stated that for rates under .30%, but displaying clear signs of consistent spam behavior, email may be rejected for delivery at Google’s discretion. This is yet another reason for you to closely monitor your spam rates with Google Postmaster Tools to stay ahead of potential delivery issues.

IP Reputation
When your emails are sent they are done so over an IP address which is, simply put, a numerical address which transports your message(s) across the internet. As you send more and more messages, the IP address(es) that you use are associated with you and build a reputation (good/neutral/bad) based on how much spam might be reported against you while using those numerical addresses. There are methods to help with managing your IP reputation (dedicated vs. shared IP’s, for example) but that is a topic for another blog by itself.

Sending the right emails to the right audience, hence lessening your spam complaints, is one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy IP reputation.

The following is Gmail’s grading system for IP reputation:

  • High: Has a good track record of a very low spam rate and complies with Gmail’s sender guidelines.
  • Medium/Fair: Known to send good email, but has occasionally sent a low volume of spam.
  • Low: Known to send a considerable volume of spam regularly.
  • Bad: A history of sending a high volume of spam.

Domain Reputation
While your IP is the numerical address that transports your messages, your domain name is what people know you by—it is your branding. Just as your IP address can be positive or negative, so can your domain name. It is important to utilize Google Postmaster Tools in order to see how Gmail is viewing the integrity of your domain name based on the feedback (spam complaints) it is receiving from its users. The better (lower) your spam rate, the better your domain reputation will be.

The following is Gmail’s grading system for domain reputation:

  • High: Has a good track record of a very low spam rate and complies with Gmail’s sender guidelines.
  • Medium/Fair: Known to send good email, but has occasionally sent a low volume of spam.
  • Low: Known to send a considerable volume of spam regularly.
  • Bad: A history of sending an enormously high volume of spam.

Authentication shows the percentage of your emails that passed SPF, DKIM, and DMARC over all emails which attempted authentication. With the advent of Google and Yahoo’s new sender requirement standards (as of February 2024), you will want to make sure that your infrastructure/authentication is set up correctly for deliverability.

Read this comprehensive guide to learn more about Google and Yahoo’s new sender requirements

This dashboard shows the percentage of your email, both inbound and outbound traffic that is encrypted.

Delivery Errors
This dashboard monitors the percentage of your total emails that were rejected or temporarily failed compared to all authenticated traffic which was sent.

Google Postmaster Tools — Feedback Loops

Though Gmail does offer a Feedback Loop (FBL), it does function somewhat differently than most others. In order to utilize the Gmail FBL so you can monitor it in Google Postmaster Tools you will want to visit Gmail’s support center to understand the requirements to set up the Gmail FBL and to understand the data which this will return back to you so you can use it in the best manner possible for your specific use case.

Google Postmaster Tools is your best, most universally accessible way to get a “straight from Gmail’s mouth” opinion of what your reputation is and how you are doing. As dmarcian encourages everyone to be the best internet citizen that they can be, signing up for your company’s free Google Postmaster Tools is a solid step in that direction—we hope you agree!

With a team of email security experts and a mission of making email and the internet more trustworthy through domain security, dmarcian is here to help assess an organization’s domain catalog and implement and manage DMARC for the long haul. You can register for our 30-day trial, where our onboarding and support team will help you along the way.

Want to continue the conversation? Head over to the dmarcian Forum.