If you read Mark Wyner’s recent email testing opus you may have despaired at how time consuming and complex it all seemed. Even though you know it is sensible and necessary, it seems like a lot of work.
Fortunately for all of us without Mark’s commitment to excellence, SiteVista have today released the first version of their email testing service. SiteVista’s web page testing service has had great reviews, and this new service looks set to match it.
So what is an email testing service anyway?
Basically, it’s a quick, simple and efficient way to find out how your carefully crafted HTML email is going to be variously displayed or mangled by different email clients. You put your email in, and you get back a bunch of screenshots, just like a web page testing service.
Right now you get screenshots from:
- Outlook 2000 / XP / 2003 / 2007
- Outlook Express
Apparently more will be added soon, including Apple Mail, AOL, Yahoo! Mail, Entourage and Eudora. For each client you get one screenshot of your email in the inbox / preview pane, and one of the email as it appears when opened. So within minutes you can find out how Hotmail users will see your email, whether your header fits into the Outlook preview pane and what kind of ads Google is likely to run next to it!
If you’ve ever had subscribers emailing you saying they couldn’t see that photo, or your text was unreadable, you know why this is a vital service.
How does it work?
SiteVista have made this incredibly simple. The signup process is quick and painless, and literally within one minute I was testing my first email. To start a new test, you are given a specific email address to send your email to.
You fire off your html email to that address, let SiteVista know, and you are immediately taken to the results page.
Over the next few moments (from seconds to a minute or two) all the spots in the grid are filled as the screenshots appear. You can click on each one for a full size view, and it is worth noting that you can see the full email, not just a screenful. SiteVista rather grandly call this ‘FullPage technology’.
Any problems are easy to spot, and you can then go away and make whatever corrections are needed before running another test. Your account contains a record of all your previous tests, so you can go back and check your results at any time. It’s all fantastically straightforward and logical.
How much does it cost?
If you are a freelancer, you can have up to 50 tests a month for USD$49, which is great value. Even better, if you sign up by this Friday the 12th, you can lock in your account at USD$39/month for the life of your account.
Businesses can have unlimited access for up to 10 people for USD$149/month. For the full details, including annual rates at a discount, check out the pricing page.
So you like it then?
Yes, we all think it is a great service. There’s a couple of questions I’d like to see the SiteVista site cover, like what screen sizes and resolutions the email clients are at. I also would like to know if the email clients have been left with their default settings or not.
Other than that, SiteVista’s email testing service looks like a really useful tool that can save you a lot of wasted time and money testing and sending emails. If you want to make sure you are giving your email campaigns the best chance of success, you need to test them. SiteVista have given us a simple and cost effective way to do that.
What do you think? Do you do any cross-client testing for your emails now? Would you give SiteVista’s service a try?