_This is Day Two of *5 Days To Optimize Your E-mail Messages*, here is “part one”:http://www.onedegree.ca/2005/12/05/5-days-to-optimize-your-email-messages._
People who receive email use a wide range of email clients ranging from “Outlook”:http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/FX010857931033.aspx and “Outlook Express”:http://www.microsoft.com/windows/oe/ to “Eudora”:http://www.eudora.com and “Thunderbird”:http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird/. They also use web-based mail solutions like “Hotmail”:http://www.hotmail.com, “Yahoo”:http://www.yahoo.com, “AOL”:http://www.aol.ca and now Google’s “Gmail”:http://www.gmail.com. Each of these handles incoming email a little differently. And if you send a lot of B2B email or sned to recipients who might be checking email from within large organizations, you will come across “Lotus Notes”:http://www-142.ibm.com/software/sw-lotus/products/product4.nsf/wdocs/noteshomepage?OpenDocument&cwesite=notes, an email client that is very tough on HTML and other formatted email. Lotus Notes will often chew up your HTML email and spit out some pretty awful stuff for the recipient.
Most email marketers will try and test (preview) their email in some of these environments, especially Outlook (and often Outlook 2003), Yahoo and Hotmail. In the US you typically see tests that include AOL due to the level of user penetration. But for the most part very few of the people I have spoken to test in enough different email clients to properly represent their recipients. Almost no one tests in Lotus Notes unless they use Notes internally.
Not testing across a broad range of email clients is a big mistake!
Does that mean you need to use all of these email clients or services to test your marketing email?
No. Of course, you can use a bunch of different email clients and webmail services and send to these to review your messages and how they will look. This will require actually getting the software (Outlook, Eudora, etc. cost money) and also setting up the different webmail solutions (AOL costs money). I have worked with email service providers, agencies and marketers who go this route and try to test in 90% or more the situations their email faces. It takes time but after a while you are able to develop in-house best practices and templates that will work well for you.
But there is also a much more simple solution.
One of my favourite companies for email marketers is “Pivotal Veracity”:http://www.pivotalveracity.com. They offer a bunch of cool and valuable tools to help email marketers. Their main business is all about tracking email deliverability to recipient inboxes. Now they also offer their “eDesign Optimizer”:http://pivotalveracity.com/solutions/eDesign.php which allows users to preview their email messages in a whole bunch of different clients and webmail solutions including the quirky Lotus Notes. If you send B2B email to many large companies you will be dealing with Lotus Notes.
In the past you would need to have access to all the different email clients and webmail services you wanted to test with. For most this did not include Lotus. Today you just need to subscribe to Pivotal Veracity’s eDesign Optimizer solution and catch the issues before you hit the send button.
Even if you are testing in different clients, how are you testing your email? Are you testing how they look in the preview pane? Read about “Optimizing For The Preview Pane” tomorrow in part 3 of *5 Days To Optimize Your E-mail Messages*.