How can I get the MOST Accurate Results when Testing an Email?

Geoff Phillips | 2013-10-18T20:34:19+00:00 | email on acid logo

“What gives? My email renders perfectly in my Email on Acid test results but it doesn’t render correctly when I test it in my local email client!”

This is a great question! First, let’s start by covering the most important fact: In order to provide an EXACT representation of your email, we process real screen captures. If you see a discrepancy in our test results, the most common culprit is your Email Service Provider (ESP).

This is because often times, ESPs manipulate your source code upon send, wrecking havoc on your carefully formed email.  Alterations may include (but are not limited to) the removal of media queries, Outlook 07+ conditional statements, special characters, and/or nested tables. Don’t get us wrong, ESPs have many good reasons for manipulating your source.  It could be to improve deliverability, convert embedded styles to inline or any number of things.  The most important thing is to be aware of their alterations. 

Now before we get you too fired up, let’s dive straight into your testing options along with our recommendations for getting the best bang for your time and money. We offer multiple different methods and each have their own set of pros and cons. Here’s the full list:

Auto-Process (recommended)

The Auto-Process method allows you to send your email directly from your ESP. That means you can preview your email as it will be received by your subscribers. This is the easiest and most accurate way to run a test because all you have to do is hit “send.” When we receive your email, we process it automatically and your test results will be available in your dashboard the next time you login.

If you use this method, we auto-process your email using the email clients selected in your account preferences. By default, all clients are selected. Also, you must use absolute references to make sure your images resolve properly – this is the industry standard for sending emails.

How do I run an Auto-Process test?

Run this by sending an email from your ESP to your Email on Acid account’s “autoprocess” address. You can find your account autoprocess address by clicking on the Results Inbox in the left navigation bar. The address appears just above your lists of tests.

Pros:

  • This method will give you the most accurate results because you are sending from your ESP.  Any alterations they make will come through via email.
  • You can login whenever you want and your test will be completed. 

Cons:

  • This is not possible if you don’t have access to the sending ESP. If you don’t have access to your sending ESP, don’t worry, we have other options for you but you might consider sharing this article with the individual responsible for sending the final email, along with a disclaimer!

If you are suspicious that your ESP is causing an issue with your renderability, the “Cut/Past HTML“,”Enter your URL“, or “Upload Zip File” methods described below can be used to verify. If your results look different from your auto-process test results, your ESP is probably modifying your code.

Send to your EOA Inbox

This is another option to send directly from your ESP but it allows you to take control over your test settings (ie, email clients/SPAM etc.).  This is also a great method because it will show you how your email will appear on final send. You’ll need to use absolute references to make sure your images resolve, again this is the industry standard.

How do I run this test?

Run this test by sending an email to your EOA inbox address. You can find your account’s address by clicking on the Results Inbox in the left navigation bar. The address appears just above your lists of tests. Just remove “.runme” from the address and the email will appear, unprocessed, in your inbox. Once an unprocessed email is in your inbox, you can select what type of test you’d like from the “Create New” dropdown menu.

Pros:

  • This method will give you accurate results because you are sending from your ESP. Any alterations they make will come through via email.
  • The inbox allows you to provision when you run your test (ie, select the clients/SPAM etc.)

Cons:

  • Not possible if you don’t have access to the sending ESP.
  • The inbox requires you to go in and initiate the process, this is more time consuming than auto-processing.

Enter your URL

This is for developers who prefer to work from a single URL in their workflow.  

By default, we require that you use absolute references to make sure your images resolve properly.  For the more advanced users who understand that images must be absolute on the final send, you can adjust your user settings to allow relative references.  If you choose this setting, we convert all relative image paths to absolute based on your URL.  Please use this setting with caution!  Your sending ESP will not be as forgiving with regard to relative references.

How do I run this test?

Run this test by logging into our system and selecting “Email Test” from the left navigation bar. Then select “Enter a URL” from the list of options under “Subject & Content.” Paste your URL into the box, select the rest of your options, and hit the “Continue” button at the bottom.

Pros:

  • This is for developers who prefer work from a direct URL.

Cons:

  • Many ESPs modify the raw HTML and unless you are sending from that ESP, you will not catch those issues.
  • This method requires you to go in and initiate the process, this is more time consuming than auto-processing.

Cut/Paste HTML

This method is for developers who prefer to simply cut/paste their entire HTML source. This requires the use of absolute references.

How do I run this test?

Run this test by logging into our system and selecting “Email Test” from the left navigation bar. Then select “Cut/Paste HTML” from the list of options under “Subject & Content.” Paste your code into the box, select the rest of your options, and hit the “Continue” button at the bottom.

Pros:

  • This is for developers who simply prefer to cut/paste for preliminary testing.

Cons:

  • Many ESPs modify the raw HTML and unless you are sending from that ESP, you will not catch those issues. 
  • This method requires you to go in and initiate the process, this is more time consuming than auto-processing.

Upload a Zip File

This is for people who prefer to work from their local files.  

Uploading a zip file should be used with caution because this method accepts absolute OR relative references to your images.  If we find a relative reference, we convert it automatically. When you send your final email, image references MUST be converted to absolute references. In other words, this option is for people who understand the importance of absolute references in email but do not wish to convert them during preliminary testing.

How do I run this test?

Run this test by logging into our system and selecting “Email Test” from the left navigation bar. Then select “Upload a ZIP file” from the list of options under “Subject & Content.”  Click “Browse” and select the correct .zip file, select the rest of your options, and hit the “Continue” button at the bottom. You’ll need to have all of the elements of your email present (html files, images, css files, etc) in the archive, with the correct relative references. Confirm that this is the correct file on the next screen, and your test will begin.

Pros:

  • This is for developers who are used to working from their local files and prefer this workflow.

Cons: 

  • Many ESPs modify the raw HTML and unless you are sending from that ESP, you will not catch those issues.
  • This method requires you to go in and initiate the process, this is more time consuming than auto-processing.

Email testing can be confusing but it’s our goal to provide a solution that works best for you and your workflow. If you have any questions about this information (or if you just want to chat about it), don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly support team!

One final note: We do not support embedded images.  If you are using embedded images, you might want to check out this article.  Based on Campaign Monitor’s research, embedded images are not universally supported by all email clients.

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