Test For an A+ Message: It’s Worth It

Test your emailMost of us glance into the mirror before stepping out the door each morning. What if there is food in our hair or our clothes are on backwards? The mirror-test saves us from potentially horrifying embarrassment.

Our emails deserve that same opportunity. Since they can’t check the mirror themselves (due to their unfortunate lack of eyeballs), we must do it for them through testing. Trust me, this is a step you do not want to skip.

You and your email marketing campaign will both be relieved if your test turns up a mistake that would have resulted in mismatched e-shoes.

Why To Test

You’ve probably had this experience: you open an email, you get interested, you click on a link, and:

the webpage cannot be found

You’re done. You can’t go any further, so you delete the email and move on to other important things, like checking the mirror for smudged mascara.

And you do not want that to happen with your emails.

So. Two or three minutes of clicking about in exchange for peace of mind? Good, I’m glad you agree!

Let’s look at how to keep your reputation as a flawless and stunning emailer.

Where To Test

Different email clients render HTML in different ways, so you’ll need to check for design flaws.

You want to test in at least the top few webmail providers, since you are most likely to have subscribers using them. (You may need to set up accounts if you don’t already have them, but it’s free to do so.)

If you can, you’ll also want to test in Outlook (there are several versions of Outlook – if you have Outlook 2007, test in that one first) and possibly Mac Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird.

What To Test

  • In HTML messages, double check the design. Do your images display in all accounts? Do special effects show up as jargon? Do the fonts look right? Now you can see if your style is universally acceptable.
  • Scan for typos. You may see mistakes you missed before while working in your account.
  • Check your from line and subject line. Each email provider limits to a different number of characters, so make sure enough information is visible in the inbox.
  • Click your links – every one. Our Link Checker will make sure the page is found and exists, but it’s up to you to make sure that each link actually goes to the right page where you want your readers to journey.

How To Test

After creating a message and before you queue it up, you’ll see the option to test it. Click on that “Test” link and fill out the form. If you’re using personalization in your message, this will test those fields as well.

how to test your emails

Go through the process for every email service you’re testing in. If you see a problem, do your best to tweak until it’s fixed.

When you are assured your message is presentable, you can send it out to deliver your words far and wide.

Tell Your Story

Have you ever stopped a flawed email just in the nick of time by testing it?

Have you ever skipped testing only to regret it later?

Share your stories below!


  1. Vincent Ortega

    12/23/2009 2:32 pm

    great post! and great ideas to make sure your emails come through properly…I have to do that with my emails as well as my websites, its frustrating, but in the end its all worth it because you can feel satisfied that all your hard work is getting paid off when people open click and feel good about what you sent them. It all about delivery and looking professional these days. People want it and need it.

    Keep up the Amazing Work Aweber!

  2. Shabbir

    12/25/2009 12:22 am

    I will add one more very important point which people miss when testing. At least I did this once and realised when I got an email from a user reply.

    I send a Newsletter which looks like this


    I always tested it before sending but each time I used to test it before I had once opted to Always Display Images from the sender.

    What it lead to me is when testing I never realized I have no Alternate option for people having opted not to show images.

    I realized the same when I got a reply of thanks from user where I could not see lots of things and specially follow us on twitter image area was blank.

    So never test with images in Email Client but use both of them so it works with and without images as you want it. Your user may not have images enabled all the time.


    I am also thinking about adding a post about this on my blog as well 😀

  3. John Grover

    12/26/2009 5:42 pm

    I believe as far as the checking different or various email clients goes: such as Outlook 2003 versus Outlook 2007 Yahoo versus G mail, etc. AWeber should be figuring out how to steam line the integration themselves so that we do not have to fix this problem ourselves.

    You guys in the technical dept may wish to consider this idea.

  4. David

    1/4/2010 2:54 pm

    I noticed the reference to jargon in the original post and I realise it is very easy to fall into the trap of using jargon. The result is that “outsiders” won’t understand the message. Does anyone have any tips for spotting and eliminating jargon in emails?

  5. Amanda Gagnon

    1/7/2010 12:25 pm

    Vincent – Thank you!
    Shabbir – That’s a very important point.
    John – That would certainly be a nice feature to add. For now, keep testing!
    David – Tip 1: Pretend you know nothing about your industry. Tip 2: Have a non-industry friend run a check. Tip 3: Check out Mary Cullen’s excellent jargon-slaying tips here.
    Happy hunting!

  6. David

    1/12/2010 4:23 pm

    Thanks to Amanda for that information. You would think that easy to understand language was something that everyone would try to use. It’s just as important as having a message to communicate.

  7. Andrew

    1/25/2010 1:36 am

    Is there not a rendering engine that can do this – similar to test web pages and web browsers.

    Or can is there some way I can at least save a test delivery group. So my testing becomes even quicker?

    I would also say, if you can you should get some email clients too. Outlook, Lotus Notes and Thunderbird. They all show emails differently.


  8. Justin Premick

    1/25/2010 9:20 am


    There are services that offer such testing, yes. The ones that come to mind at the moment are Return Path and Litmus.

    Litmus offers a free version; however it only shows you Outlook 2003 and Gmail.

  9. Troy Cornejo

    3/26/2010 9:36 pm

    Excellent post and great information.

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