Email Marketing Tips: #5 Test, Test, Test

Wouldn’t it be great if we all got everything right the first time, every time? Unfortunately, everything — including email marketing —  has room for human error. And on top of the small mistakes you might make when creating or modifying your email newsletter, there are the variety of email clients out there that may wreak havoc on your message.

It’s incredibly unfortunate that there are no enforced standards for email clients like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook as far as formatting. Email is already kind of “stuck in the stone age” coding-wise. Since email doesn’t recognize css (cascading style sheets — the “rules” for how a website looks), businesses using email marketing have to use basic HTML to construct their message.

And even within this HTML, some email clients will pick up or ignore elements differently than others. Take Gmail for example. Gmail doesn’t recognize background colors, and 9 times out of 10 text will come through a smaller size than you intended it.

And don’t even get me started on Outlook 2007. Although a lot of people use this to look at email, it is by far the worst as far as standardized email formatting. Something about Outlook 2007 using Microsoft Word to run the HTML through causes many email templates to look like they went through a meat grinder.

The only way to make sure your email is going out to every one of your subscribers exactly the way you intend it to is to test, test, test. By far, this is one of the most important tips we can give you. In fact, if you only follow one of our ten email marketing tips, it should be this one.

Your system to be set up to test messages through multiple clients, so that you know what your message looks like in all of them. How does your newsletter look for those using AOL, Mac.com or Mozilla Thunderbird? Don’t know? Maybe it’s time to switch over to a system that can provide you that information, as well as info for Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Outlook. You wouldn’t believe how different each of these can look with exactly the same HTML coding.

Testing also gives you the chance to read over your email newsletters multiple times to check for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. Send it to yourself a few times, as well as at least one other person in the office. A fresh pair of eyes can recognize a lot.

Save yourself the embarrassment of a mangled message or poor grammar — test, test, test! And give yourself the time to do so. It’s not worth trading time for quality, is it?

Want to know our secret strategy? We have checklists for everything that we fill out as we test. Everything has to be marked off before we send our messages. We think it’s the best strategy for getting it right, all of the time.

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