When we do our email campaigns at FPCS we code from design using the MJML platform (see my previous article on the topic). It has really made the job so much easier. Once you have a good build the next step is to make sure it will be viewed as your designer intended right? While the browser field has really made strides to accept standards and keep up with modern coding techniques email clients still seem to remain troublesome.
So before sending off your email you have a few options for testing. Let’s face it…Outlook is the main problem, Microsoft decided it was a good idea to use Word to render email instead of the browser in Outlook (2007, 2010, and 2013). That didn’t turn out so well for those of us pushing standards and trying to build rich readable emails. On the plus side it did help the businesses providing testing services!
If you work on Apple machines testing for Outlook is more challenging as you need to employ a third party program to load windows, and set up multiple versions of Outlook. There is simply no inexpensive way to test (that I have discovered) for the number of issues Outlook causes. The two main contenders in this area are Litmus and Email on Acid. Here is a quick comparison of the two.
Litmus has been around forever and is a full featured app that honestly is really easy to use. Litmus offers an impressive number of features and their list of testing devices and browsers covers any scenario you can think of.
- Features list from Litmus
- Spam Testing
All of these amount to a place you can build your email or paste in pre built code, and then Litmus will analyze the code to give you insight on potential problems or areas for improvement. Once this is done you choose what devices and applications you want to test on and send off your email. Litmus returns views of these for you to see and make adjustments.
Email on Acid
Email on Acid is a newer challenger and offers pretty much the same experience. Here is a screen showing your email in the various scenerios you selected for preview.
- Features list from Email on Acid
- Campaign Check
- Email Testing (70+ clients)
- Email Editor
- Email Analytics
- Spam Testing
- Design Inspiration
The features are quite similar on both platforms as is the testing experience, I’ve found Litmus to be maybe slightly more robust. However either should help you suss out any issues your custom email might have before you send it off to your clients. As you can see from this Litmus email marketshare report Outlook is still in use by a good number of users. So make sure you don’t get lazy, run a test somehow!
Here is a price comparison (current as of the publishing of this article). Both sites offer a free trial, but they are limited and you will need to provide a credit card. Prices are a bit cheaper if you pay annually (shown here).