Email Thursday – The Importance of Platform Testing



Today is email Thursday and I’m your presenter, Andy.

So today we’re going to talk about the importance of platform testing. No, not the kind of platforms that collapse and cause disasters but the kind that we all use everyday but that most of us don’t think about: email and, to some extent, Operating System platforms. Now, unless you’re an email marketer, you probably rarely if ever think about rendering and how it can affect the performance of an email campaign. But if you’ve ever received an email where something just didn’t look right, then it probably wasn’t. Maybe there’s a broken table in the HTML, the CSS is being stripped out of the HTML or a graphic doesn’t load properly or in the right place. Unfortunately, this happens all too often in the email world but there are things we can do as email marketers to reduce the likelihood of these occurrences.

One thing that is available to email marketers to help them with this issue are services such as Pivotal Veracity and Return Path, both great services. Having more experience with Pivotal Veracity, I am more familiar with their platform. One of the nicest things about this platform is that it also includes how the email will render on popular mobile platforms such as Apple’s iPhone and the Blackberry systems. In a recent blog post entitled entitled “Time Spent on Email: No. 3 on PC But No. 1 on Mobile”, Loren McDonald of Silverpop says that “Rendering is More Important than Ever” and “Have you tested your email messages to be sure they render correctly and deliver the message you intend on all platforms? This must become a critical part of your email program. If subscribers can’t read your messages easily on their phones, your emails will likely get deleted more often.”

Here, you can see a screenshot of an email and how it will render in some common browsers and email clients. We can see how the email will look in Gmail in Internet Explorer, Yahoo! Mail in Firefox, Comcast Mail etc.. What this tool allows us to do is to see how any given email will render in the most common email clients and web clients within the most popular browsers. In this particular case, we see no real issues that need substantial addressing. Unfortunately, this particular service doesn’t show us what this email looks like in Outlook 2007 which is notorious for causing rendering issues. It’s all in the CSS.

Where otherwise you might not know of a rendering issue if you only have one or maybe two email clients, you may in fact be sending out an email that renders poorly for a large segment of your audience. Do you know how your email looks in Hotmail? What about Gmail? And Droid?

So here’s the long and short of it: testing is key. The graphic shown here displays the results of a 2010 study by Fingerprint showing the market share that each email client has. This data is from February of 2010. []As you can see, the iPhone is only one percentage point behind Gmail in marketshare which supports the claim that users are relying more and more on mobile devices to read their emails. I know that personally, even when I’m at home and my laptop is next to me and on, I’m more likely to grab my iPhone off the table and check my email that way.

If you don’t test for the most popular platforms, you can’t be sure that you message is reaching your audience with the same visual impact you designed for. Since platform testing is so important and mobile browsers are rapidly on the rise, it’s wise to find your self a service that works for you and your marketing budget to make sure that a flawless execution happens every time.

At Exclusive Concepts, we offer Optimized Lifecycle Email Marketing for our clients who are looking to maximize their revenue through this unique and ever-growing channel. If you are looking for a way to get a lot more revenue from your e-mail approach, consider our Optimized Lifecycle Email Marketing service to augment your other marketing efforts. We’ll show you how it works if you’d like – just give us a call at 800-504-4324.

Thank you for listening – have a wonderful Email Thursday!