Email Testing For Quality Assurance and More

If we didn’t test our messages before sending them to our subscribers, I’d be in a lot of trouble! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had typos and broken links caught only by reviewing messages before sending.

Not only do we all make mistakes, but sometimes when we look at our work only from our own perspective, we don’t see the forest for the trees.

Testing can help with both problems. I’d like to briefly share a few ways successful email marketers test their messages, including benefits and limitations of each:

Method #1: Self-Testing

Try using a test feature to send your messages to a few of your own email accounts, possibly including software based email clients like Outlook and Thunderbird, as well as free web based ones like Yahoo! Mail and Gmail.

Benefit:

See your email messages much like your subscribers will in different email applications
Test links to make sure they direct to the desired page

Limitation:

Difficulty in taking a fresh, outside look at messages and their effectiveness.

Method #2: Recruit Your Friends and Colleagues

Discuss your campaign with helpful peers and ask them to provide feedback. Use the test feature, or for more complete feedback from a more realistic test, have them sign up for your email marketing campaign.

Benefit:

Collaboration: get a fresh set of eyes on the content of your messages and feedback on the broader goals of your campaign

Limitation:

A potentially narrow perspective: our friends are often more like us than our subscribers.

Method #3: Real World Testing

Once you have more than 100 people subscribed to your campaign, you can randomly segment and test to groups of your subscribers.

Results are in the form of measurable email analytics metrics such as open and click tracking rates, and if you make yourself approachable to subscribers, you’re bound to receive helpful feedback.

Benefit:

Test your hypothesis: learning from what does and doesn’t work helps you to keep your quality and results on an upward trend

Limitation:

Any type of measurement requires interpretation to get actionable insight.

We Need to Start Somewhere!

It’s true — we won’t get most things right 100% the first time, and testing helps you to take a step back to make improvements.

But we won’t get anywhere if we don’t start somewhere.

You know your business well, and you probably know enough about your subscribers to target them effectively. Start with your best shot, then use testing to hit the bullseye.

Are you in the good habit of testing your messages? We’d love to hear about your testing routine in the comments below.

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8 Comments

  1. I have sure found that out! Being new and impatient, I have found myself letting loose of some boo boos, then wondering how the hell did I do THAT!

    11/1/2007 12:20 pm
  2. Trisha Benefield

    This is great advice for a newbie. Thanks for the insight.
    I will definately take your advice as I am just starting
    out with all this. You guys go above and beyond at Aweber.
    Keep up the great work. Very educational and to the point.
    Will keep you posted on my results.
    Thanks

    11/2/2007 6:55 pm
  3. Educational and to the point thank you! NOW to BUILD MY LIST>.. looking for the video tutorial on that here … or the link or whatever format you want to get that info to us by!! thanks again…

    4/5/2008 5:10 pm
  4. I’m just starting on designing my template, but I was wondering if some time in the near feature there will be a feature in AWeber to show how a newsletter looks in different e-mails. I’ve seen one of your competitors provide such a feature and that’s the only thing that I’m missing here.

    4/11/2008 3:10 pm
  5. Currently, you will have to do that testing manually by signing up for a number of free accounts, and perhaps by downloading and using software clients. If we do offer that feature in the future, you can expect to see it announced here on our blog.

    Thanks for your feedback, and I will certainly note it for our developers. They’re constantly working on new things, including some exciting analytics features you should see soon!

    4/11/2008 3:29 pm
  6. Thank you for this information about email testing for quality assurance.
    But just to ask question about this. How we can test our thousand of subscribers in this situation? Are we going to do it manually as you have said.. Or is there any tools for us to use?

    9/19/2010 4:53 pm
  7. Marti

    I started using a disposable email service called Mailinator.com to test. You have access to all the inboxes, and they have an API set up, although I haven’t figured out how to get that working quite yet.

    I’m a university employee and needed to test newsletters going out to potential donors. No room for muck ups there.

    7/17/2014 6:59 pm