What Is a Seed List? And Create One For Email Marketing

ByAquibur Rahman


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In June 2021, an HBOMax employee mistakenly sent an empty email to a portion of their email list. It made a big buzz on Twitter, and HBOMax had to apologize for the inconvenience publicly.

Such Incidents can create a bad reputation for businesses, and you’ve to avoid them at all costs. Fortunately, you can do that by using a seed list.

So let’s uncover all details of an email seed list, it's definition and how to use it to minimize errors in your email campaigns.

Table of contents

What is a seed list?

An email seed list consists of test email addresses you send an email to before sending it to your actual email list. This list can contain emails from your colleagues, friends, family members, etc. We will discuss building a seed list later but let’s first understand why you should build one in the first place.

Why should you create a seed list?

The best way to deal with a problem is by avoiding it ahead of time. That’s the primary purpose of the seed lists, as they help you detect problems in your email. Here is how seed lists help you:

  • They help you test emails across different devices and email clients.

  • They help you detect rendering, accessibility, and deliverability issues.

  • They help you perform a/b testing.

Thus, if you find any issues, you can rectify them before sending them to your original email list subscribers.

How do you create a seed list?

Here are a few things to keep in mind while creating a seed list.

  • Include emails of people who are willing to give feedback. These should not be people from your suppression list who haven’t engaged with you in a long time. That’s why it’s best to include work colleagues, close friends, family members, etc., who will give constructive feedback on your email.

  • Try to add a sufficient number of people who use different email clients and devices. It will help you test broadly and get useful insights.

  • If you’re testing an AMP email, make sure that people on your list use any of these email clients: Gmail, Yahoo Mail,, FairEmail. These are the only clients that render AMP emails currently, so make sure your seed list subjects use these clients. If you can’t find a good variety of test subjects, you can create an account on these platforms and use them for your test.

Once you’ve built your seed list while keeping the above points in check, it’s time you send your email. Configure the email using an ESP like Mailmodo, and send it to your seed list.

Once the email is sent, it’s time you ask for feedback from your seed list members. Here’s how you can do it.

Get this pre-send checklist to hit send with confidence

An interactive checklist to send error-free emails

Things you need to do after sending the email

5 things to after sending your test email infographic

Here’s what you need to take feedback from seed list members effectively:

  • Deliverability: Ask the seed list members if it got delivered to their inboxes. Unfortunately, if it made its way to the spam folder, ask them to mark you as Not Spam, so inbox providers will know you’re a legit sender.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Email Deliverability

  • Links: Ask them to visit all the links and inform you if any of them are not working. If they inform you that they found some dead links, you’ve to fix them before sending them to your real list.

  • Images: Ask them if the images are aligned properly. Again, fix the alignment issues if they inform you of any.

  • Readability: Ask them if they can read that email without any strain. You’ve to fix your email if it turns out that your font size is too small, the color is too dim, or it has any typos.

  • AMP components: If you are sending interactive AMP components such as surveys, forms, event registration, etc., then ask seed list users to fill it out and inform you of any issue they faced while filling it out.

    Also Read: Components of AMP Email - Types, Use, Deployment of AMP Email Components

These are some things you can get feedback on, but don’t limit yourself to only these parameters. If you need info about any other parameter, ask that too and fix problems if you find any.

Limitation of a seed list

Seed lists are a great way to predict how your campaigns may perform. However, they’re not reflecting what will happen when you send emails to your real list.

The email sent to your real list may perform better than the seed list or worse. Seed lists are just there to help you identify potential errors and fix them. So take the deliverability rates in a seed list with a grain of salt and see how the actual email pans out.

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Seed lists are an amazing way to avoid discomforting mistakes in your email that may put you in uncomfortable situations. So use seed lists to detect errors and resolve them to give a better user experience to the original subscribers.

After testing your email with seed lists, it’s time to send it to the real list. But while doing so, spam filters can harm your email deliverability rates. They are put in place to avoid spam, but you may also become victims of them. That’s why you must go through our spam filters guide which will teach you what they are and how to bypass them to increase your deliverability.

What should you do next?

Thanks for reading till the end. Here are 3 ways we can help you grow your business:


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