Getting started with Google Postmaster Tools: Sender reputation

Wondering what your sender reputation is? Follow our guide to get started with Google Postmaster Tools.



How’s your reputation? 

Your email sender reputation, that is. 

Your sender reputation can be the make-or-break factor for successfully landing in the inbox. It’s a score that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to you and is critical in determining your email deliverability. The better your score, the more likely an ISP will deliver your emails to recipients on their network.

But tracking your sender reputation can sometimes feel a lot like tracking Bigfoot. ISPs are usually never very transparent about your sender reputation, and you have to do your best to sift through their clues to determine your track record.

Thankfully, Gmail’s Google Postmaster Tools gives you direct insight into your sender reputation and more. With over 1.5 Billion active users, Gmail recipients probably make up the lion’s share of your subscribers. With Google Postmaster Tools, you’ll be able to monitor your sender reputation and improve your overall deliverability. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to set up Postmaster tools, some of the features, and how you can use them to superpower your email marketing game.

What is Google Postmaster Tools?

Postmaster Tools is a free online tool provided by Google that gives you direct access to information about your domain reputation, IP reputation, spam rate, encryption, and performance diagnostics. If you send a high volume of emails to Google users, Postmaster Tools can help you monitor your performance and get ahead of deliverability issues before they happen. Even if Gmail isn’t your primary focus, understanding how your mail is perceived by Gmail can help you better understand how your sender reputation scores with other IPs.

How do I set up Google Postmaster Tools?

Getting started with Google Postmaster Tools is pretty straightforward. Since Postmaster Tools is domain-based, you’ll need to add and authenticate your email sending domain to uniquely identify your email traffic and provide access to your email performance analytics.

You can use either your root domain or one of your subdomains as your sending domain, depending on how you want your diagnostics presented. For instance, if you choose to use your root domain, data will be aggregated across any related subdomains and IPs. If you segment your traffic into multiple subdomains, it’s a good idea to add each one to Postmaster Tools separately to keep your data points focused.

Let’s set up Gmail Postmaster Tools with the following steps:

  1. Go to to access Postmaster Tools.

  2. Login with the Google account that you will use to manage your Postmaster Tools data.

  3. In the bottom-right, click the + icon.

  4. Enter your sending domain in the pop-up and click Next.

  5. To verify your ownership of the sending domain, copy the TXT record and paste it into your domain’s DNS. Then, click Verify. (Alternatively, you can follow the steps on the pop-up to generate a CNAME DNS record to verify the domain ownership.)

And just like that, you’ve added your sending domain to your Postmaster Tools account, and you can start collecting data.

What data points does Postmaster Tools provide me with?

Once you get set up and running, Google provides insight into several data points organized across different Postmaster Tools dashboards:

  • Spam rate

  • Domain reputation

  • IP reputation

  • Message authentication

  • Encryption

  • Delivery errors

  • Feedback loop

These dashboards include several Google Postmaster metrics you might be familiar with and a few that speak more to your sending habits or processes. Below, we’ll discuss each dashboard in more detail.

Spam Rate dashboard

The Spam Rate dashboard tracks how many users are reporting your messages as spam. Tracking spam complaint rates is serious business, and ensuring you take action on those complaints is even more important. By gaining insight into the volume of these complaints, you can use it as a data point to compare against your domain or IP reputation. These data points provide insight into why your reputation slips when used together.

Domain Reputation dashboard

Domain reputation is crucial for tracking if your emails are being delivered or getting caught in the spam filter. Postmaster Tools’ Domain Reputation dashboard uses color coding ranging from a deep red for a bad reputation to green for a good reputation. The better your reputation, the more likely your email marketing is to hit its target inbox.

As we mentioned above, to track your domain reputation, you can either add a root domain to view all traffic for that domain and any subdomains or add each individual subdomain and track reputation separately. If you’re using subdomains, it’s good practice to add them individually to keep an eye on their macro-level reputation and understand if your email content is getting delivered to an inbox or getting sent straight to a spam folder.

IP Reputation dashboard

Just like your domain reputation, your IP reputation also plays a role in email deliverability. Your IP Reputation dashboard is color-coded the same way your domain reputation dashboard with red meaning bad and green meaning good. The better your IP reputation, the higher the likelihood that your message will be delivered. However, keep in mind that dedicated IPs will give you a much finer measure of control over these statistics, whereas shared IPs will often fluctuate regardless of your actions.

Message Authentication dashboard

This handy Postmaster dashboard tracks your messages that have passed DMARC, SPF, or DKIM authentication. On this dashboard, you can see a simple graph that displays the percentage of messages that have passed authentication. If you do have any authentication-related issues, like no published DMARC, you may see that percentage dip or sit at 0%. This means it’s time to diagnose and fix your authentication problem.

Encryption dashboard

The Encryption dashboard breaks down the percentage of inbound or outbound mail that has passed TLS compared to all mail coming from or being sent to your domain. It gives you a better idea of what your overall email volume looks like. It’s a simple but important dashboard to keep your email deliverability health tabs.

Delivery Errors dashboard

Check out your Delivery Errors dashboard to get an idea of your delivery rate. Here you can see the volume of messages that were either rejected or temporarily failed to deliver — including a reason as to why the failure occurred. For example, if your messages were rejected due to a misconfigured DMARC policy, that information will be available on the Delivery Errors dashboard.

Feedback Loop dashboard

If you’ve signed up for Google’s Feedback Loop (FBL) to track campaign-specific complaint rates, you will have access to the Feedback Loop Dashboard. This dashboard provides two graphs to track the Average Feedback Loop Spam rate across any identifiers (specific campaigns, customers, or “other”) flagged by the FBL, as well as an Identifier Volume Graph showing the number of unique identifiers broken down by day.

If you’re a Mailgun user, you won’t even have to worry about signing up for Google’s Feedback Loop yourself – we do that by default for all our customers.

How do I share Google Postmaster Tools with my team?

But let’s face it, you’re rarely ever flying solo regarding email deliverability metrics. Chances are, you’ll need to share them with your team members or your Mailgun Technical Account Manager if you’re enrolled in our Managed Deliverability Services. Let’s walk through how you can share Google Postmaster Tools with your team.

First, ensure your team member has a valid Google account and then follow the steps below:

  1. On your Postmaster Tools account, mouse over the verified domain to which you want to add your team member.

  2. Click on the icon with the three dots and select Manage users.

  3. In the bottom-right, click Add.

  4. In the pop-up window, enter your team member's Google Account email address.

Your team member should have access immediately. Ensure that you let them know, because Google Postmaster Tools won’t automatically send out an alert.

Wrapping up

Sender reputation is important, and rather than guessing at what yours might be, you can use Google Postmaster Tools to learn about your reputation.

Want to interact with your data programmatically? We’ve developed a Google Postmaster Tools API to get you started. If you want to keep troubleshooting your email deliverability issues, especially why your marketing campaigns are bouncing, check out our Email Address Validations API.

Don’t hesitate to reach out – let Mailgun help you navigate your sender reputation and more today.

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