While Google’s Gmail Feedback Loop (Gmail FBL) is intended primarily for high volume senders and ESPs, Google offers their Google Postmaster Tools (PMT) to everyone. Here are how to sign up for Google Postmaster Tools and the Gmail Feedback Loop.
Even without taking advantage of the Gmail FBL (which only provides aggregate information anyway), Google Postmaster Tools give you a great deal of insight into what’s going on with the email that you send to Gmail users. This is information you really need to monitor, so it’s a really good idea to sign up for the Google Postmaster Tools. Here’s how to sign up for Google Postmaster Tools, where to find the Google PMT dashboard, and also how to sign up for the Gmail Feedback Loop if you are a higher volume sender.
As Google explains here, “If you send a large volume of emails to Gmail users, you can use Postmaster Tools to see:
- If users are marking your emails as spam
- Whether you’re following Gmail’s best practices/li>
- Why your emails might not be delivered/li>
- If your emails are being sent securely/li>
How to Sign Up for Google Postmaster Tools
Signing up for Gmail Postmaster Tools is actually really easy. First make sure that you are already signed in to whatever Google account you are going to use, and then just go to https://postmaster.google.com/.
Click on ‘Get Started’, and you will be taken to the place to enter the sending domain that you want to register with Google Postmaster Tools.
Click ‘Next’, and the next little window will generate a unique TXT record that you need to add to your DNS set-up, so that Google can verify that you actually have control over the domain.
As Google explains during this step, “When Google finds the DNS record that you have added, we will verify your ownership of the domain. To stay verified, do not remove the DNS record, even after the verification succeeds. (DNS changes may take some time and if we do not find the record immediately, we will check for it periodically.)”
They also suggest that if you are having trouble adding it to your DNS records, try instead adding the TXT to a CNAME record.
Once you have added the TXT record to your DNS set-up (or a CNAME record) click ‘Verify’.
If you have set it up properly, and the verification is successful, the domain will be added to Postmaster Tools, and you will be able to access the dashboard just as soon as Google starts collecting data on your sends to Gmail.
If Google is unable to verify your TXT record, you will see an error message saying:
“Your DNS TXT verification record was not found. You might need to wait a few minutes before Google sees your changes to the TXT records. Please try again.”
Once your domain is verified click on your domain name, and you will be taken to the Postmaster Tools dashboard for that domain.
Once Google has collected enough data, it will start populating your dashboard – actually ‘dashboards’, as they have a separate one for each type of data analysis.
Those dashboards are (descriptions by Google):
Spam rate dashboard
This dashboard shows the volume of user-report spam vs. email that was sent to the inbox. Only emails authenticated by DKIM are eligible for spam rate calculation.
Domain & IP Reputation Dashboards
Domain and IP reputation gives a sense of whether the Gmail spam filter might mark emails from that Domain or IP as spam or not. Keep in mind that spam filtering is based on thousands of signals, and that Domain & IP reputation are just two of them.
The definition of spam in the section below includes mail detected as spam by Gmail’s Spam filter, and mail reported by users as Spam.
Bad: A history of sending an enormously high volume of spam. Mail coming from this entity will almost always be rejected at SMTP or marked as spam.
Low: Known to send a considerable volume of spam regularly, and mail from this sender will likely be marked as spam.
Medium/Fair: Known to send good mail, but is prone to sending a low volume of spam intermittently. Most of the email from this entity will have a fair deliverability rate, except when there is a notable increase in spam levels.
High: Has a good track record of a very low spam rate, and complies with Gmail’s sender guidelines. Mail will rarely be marked by the spam filter.
Feedback Loop Dashboard
This dashboard only shows up for senders who have implemented the Gmail Spam Feedback Loop (FBL). Click any data point on the graph to see a table with the identifiers flagged by FBL and their corresponding spam rates.
This dashboard has two distinct graphs:
Average FBL Spam Rate Graph: Shows average spam rate across all identifiers flagged by FBL, on a given day (when applicable) over time.
Identifier Volume Graph : Shows the number of unique identifiers flagged by FBL per day (when applicable) over time.
Shows traffic that passed SPF, DKIM & DMARC, over all received traffic that attempted authentication.
SPF Graph: Shows percentage of mail that passed SPF vs all mail from that domain, that attempted spf (ie. excludes any spoofed mail).
DKIM Graph: Shows percentage of mail that passed DKIM vs all mail from that domain, that attempted DKIM (ie. excludes any spoofed mail).
DMARC Graph: Shows percentage of mail that passed DMARC alignment vs all mail received from the domain, that passed either of SPF or DKIM.
Shows TLS encrypted traffic vs. all mail received from that domain, and consists of two distinct graphs within the same dashboard.
TLS Inbound: Shows percentage of incoming mail (to Gmail), that passed TLS vs all mail received from that domain.
TLS Outbound: Shows percentage of outgoing mail (from Gmail), that was accepted over TLS vs all mail sent to that domain.
Delivery Errors Dashboard
Shows rejected/temp-failed traffic vs all authenticated traffic coming from that domain, within a single graph. Typically messages are rejected or temp-failed with the SMTP error codes 550 or 421 respectively. Click a data point to see a table with the reason behind why the traffic was rejected or temp-failed.
How to interpret Delivery Errors
Rate limit exceeded: The Domain or IP is sending traffic at a suspiciously high rate, due to which temporary rate limits have been imposed. The limit will be lifted when Gmail is confident enough of the nature of the traffic.
Suspected spam: The traffic is suspected to be spam, by our systems, for various reasons
Email content is possibly spammy: The traffic is suspected to be spammy, specific to the content
Bad or unsupported attachment: Traffic contains attachments not supported by Gmail
DMARC policy of the sender domain: The sender domain has set up a DMARC rejection policy
Sending IP has low reputation: The IP reputation of the sending IP is very low
Sending domain has low reputation: The Domain reputation of the sending domain is very low
IP is in one or more public RBLs: The IP is listed in one or more public Real-time Blackhole Lists. Work with the RBL to get your IP delisted.
Domain is in one or more public RBLs: The Domain is listed in one or more public Real-time Blackhole Lists. Work with the RBL to get your domain delisted.
Bad or missing PTR record: The sending IP is missing a PTR record.
More information can also be found at Google’s Gmail Postmaster Tools FAQ.
Once you have your Google Postmaster Tools set up, you can share your data with deliverability services like ours to aid in troubleshooting deliverability issues you may be having at Gmail. Go here for how to share your Google Postmaster Tools data with someone.
How to Sign Up for the Gmail Feedback Loop (Gmail FBL)
Gmail’s Feedback Loop (FBL) is intended for high volume email senders and email service providers (ESPs). Rather than “signing up” for it, as it were, you activate it by including certain code (which Google calls ‘identifiers’) in the headers of the email that you send, and then Google takes it from there. You must first be signed up for Google Postmaster Tools, and then, as Google explains, “any Identifiers with an unusual spam rate and that might cause deliverability issues will be reported in the Postmaster Tools FBL dashboard.” In addition, you must publish SPF, DKIM, and DMARC (which you should be doing anyways).
While in theory any sender can include the identifiers in their headers, if your volume isn’t high enough it’s unlikely that Google will report it at all.
Finally, of course, you an also sign up for our SuretyMail Email Reputation Certification service and let us help optimize your delivery to the inbox!