deliverability letter

Email Testing: What To Check Before You Hit Send

Thoughts by Gracija Atanasovska • Content Team Bento

Anyone who has ever worked in email marketing and written email content knows how much effort goes into the whole thing.

Creating a well-written and informative email message is an essential part of every email marketing campaign.

So, we all know how painful it can be when we notice some type of mistake in the email message once it’s being sent. No company or business wants to be considered careless or negligent in the way they do business and engage with customers.

Business Insider reports an experiment conducted by two psychologists at the North Carolina State University on communication errors. What they found out was that “[c]ollege students who read the email messages perceived the writer to be less conscientious, intelligent and trustworthy when the message contained many grammatical errors, compared to the same message without any errors.”

Readers aren’t too easy on people and businesses who make writing and grammatical mistakes in professional contexts.

And that’s why proofreading is so important in email content marketing. It’s an important step you simply mustn’t overlook, and inbox previews can help you a lot here.

What Are Inbox or Email Previews?

Inbox preview, also known as email preview, is a way of knowing how your email will be seen by your subscribers, both on desktop and mobile.

This is a great way to see the potential flaws of the messages you send so that you know what to adjust and improve (for example, inbox previews often contain indications of potential code errors).

What’s more, you’ll be able to see the best layout and the best format for your clients’ and subscribers’ different email platforms and the devices they use.

With various email preview tools on the market, you can choose to use either a free or a paid one, the latter offering more features.

If you go for the first option, you’d usually get everything we mentioned so far, plus coding errors, grammatical errors, image placement, and responsiveness, among other things.

What Do You Need to Test in an Inbox Preview?

An email message contains many different elements, and if you want your email marketing campaign to have a spotless user experience, you need to make sure that the various email components are in perfect order.

Inbox preview tools offer this kind of help, so let’s take a look at the most important elements you need to test.

Test the Email Body

Sometimes an email looks different in different people’s inboxes and on different devices, which is why it needs to be tested first. When you’re checking the body of the email, make sure that the text is properly aligned, that the headings are in order, that you have proper capitalization, that it is grammatically correct, that the content corresponds to your business intentions and the message you want to convey to your customers/subscribers, and that it contains all the links you want to include.

Test Liquid Tags

Whatever email provider you're using most likely has custom variables you can put into your emails or subject lines. In Bento, these are called Liquid Tags and allow you to add in details about the visitor right inside the email (i.e {{ visitor.first_name | default: 'there' }}). But, as with all code, sometimes you can make mistakes.

Products like Bento provide a seamless way to test and check your Liquid variables to ensure your email looks exactly how you want. The last step of our review process will run a checker and tell you what tags are broken and if there are any issues.

Our preview tool will also load real data every time your refresh the page so it makes it easy to spot istakes as you find them.

Check for Spam Keywords

Depending on your email marketing provider, you may be able to check for spam keywords. These are phrases that will land you right into the naughty folders (trash or spam).

Before every send, Bento runs a series word checks to ensure that your email doesn't include any high risk phrases. If it does, it will tell you.

Test How Your Emails Look on Mobile Devices

This is one of the most important things you have to consider when doing an inbox preview of your email. Nowadays, we check our email on different devices, which is why you should preview it on a desktop computer/laptop, mobile, and tablet devices, as well as different browsers and operating systems to ensure a seamless user experience.

Test Image Rendering

How or whether at all your clients view the images featured in the emails you send them is another important thing you should check.

There are some people whose email providers and/or browsers block the images present in the email content, and sometimes even filter them into the spam section.

That’s why it’s crucial that you check how the images are rendered in the emails you’re sending and see whether you need to make an improvement in how the images are read by different programs and devices.

Test the Email Subject Lines

Subject lines seem like a very small part of the email, but in reality, they’re incredibly important. Write the wrong subject line, include too many exclamation points, interpunction, or emojis, and you risk your email landing in the spam folder.

Also, you have to make sure that the subject line isn’t too long - otherwise, it kind of loses its function. So whenever you’re about to send emails to clients/subscribers, make sure to check if the subject line is in order, whether it corresponds to the content of the email, whether the tone is right, and whether or not it is possible to be considered spam.

Test Email Segmentation

Email segmentation is when you’re dividing your email lists into smaller parts or segments based on certain criteria. This is done with the purpose of targeting different types of clients with different types of emails. This can be done with info on demographics (such as age, nationality, gender, sex), geographic area, past purchases, how much they spend on your products or services, their behavior on your site, etc.

When sending company emails, you have to make sure you’re sending the right emails to the right people. For example, a new line of shirts featuring a famous pop-singer won’t be very interesting for people over 50, but it’s very likely to be a hit among people aged 15-25.

So, make sure your emails are properly segmented before you send them - that you already have a set of criteria by which you’re guiding your campaign and have already set client targets.

Test Your Address in the “From” Section of the Email

The address you send your email from matters as well. Of course, you’ll be sending it from your company’s email address, but it’s a good idea to go one step further and make sure the email address sounds more personal. For example, sometimes it’s better to include a particular employee name rather than the generic company name.

Also, when you’re previewing the email address you’re sending, make sure not to use the “no-reply” address, given that the “no-reply” approach just doesn’t cut it in email marketing anymore. According to a survey conducted by West Corporation, lack of human touch was among a host of factors responsible for 25% of customers opting out of a brand. Also, poor customer service was responsible for 89% of customers switching brand loyalties.

Make Sure to Check the SPF and DKIM Records

Simply put, DKIM and SPF are ways for computers and the internet to verify the credibility of the email sender.

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework and it denotes a type of email authentication. It’s a process that serves to validate whether the email message was sent from a valid and authorized email server. Its role is to prevent your email from ending up in the spam section.

DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail and it works like a digital signature. Its role is similar to the SPF in the sense that it’s also aimed towards email authentication and it allows your company to be verified as a credible source of information by the recipient of the message. It’s also supposed to prevent fake or spam emails.

In short, SPF is responsible for deciding which IP addresses can send emails, and DKIM is responsible for the encryption key and the digital signature of the email message.

Both are authentication methods and both are important for making sure your email is safely and securely delivered and that it doesn’t end in the spam section of your recipient.

Test the Time and Date When the Email Was Sent

This also has to do with email segmentation. It’s not just about sending the message - the timing of your messages is also pretty important. Different clients will respond better during different times of the day.

That’s why this also includes email segmentation - you will need to include the age, profession, activity time, geographical location of the customer to know when the email message will probably have the most effect.

So before you send the email, make sure the content corresponds with the timing.

For example, there’s no point in sending a customer happy hour restaurant suggestions when their workday has ended and they’re already home, is there?

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s lots more to email marketing than just sending a simple email message. You also have to make sure how it looks and whether it’s rendered perfectly (or almost perfectly!) on different devices and browsers, as well as different email platforms.

If you want to always act professional and consider yourself a serious business, then you have to make sure that all of your clients will be able to seamlessly engage with the emails you’re sending them.