In order to trigger the submissions and to be sure of the exact visualization of what was scheduled, some tests must be performed before the action. This is the only way to anticipate problems, repair errors and optimize delivery. So let’s look at some suggestions:
The antispam test evaluates all HTML code for common spammer features and suspicious expressions, including checking page title, text, links, image addresses, and alternative text. To do this work, the most popular antispam tool is SpamAssassin, which is used on many web servers and is also available to users in their desktop applications. In addition to SpamAssassin, we can mention some more specific, such as those used by Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo !. They all have certain rules in common, which are based on practices used by spammers. It is important to avoid using expressions such as “credit”, “click here”, “read more”, “especially for you” and related ones. In addition to text content, the antispam test also checks the balance between text and images, text and code, the contrast between text colors and background colors, and even attempts to camouflage suspicious expressions with extra spaces and different characters.
Viewing with locked images
Image blocking is a standard feature of the vast majority of email applications. It guarantees recipients security against any inappropriate content and saves bandwidth by not initiating automatic download of images. Who can decide on the display of the images is the recipient himself. As digital media professionals, we have no control over the actions of users and consequently we cannot expect everyone to choose to display the images of the emails they receive. However, we can prepare a message optimized for reading in this situation through the use of HTML text and alternative text for images. A practical way to test email marketing layout with blocked images is through the browser itself, with developer-specific extensions. Firefox has WebDeveloper, whose toolbar has an option to block images from the current page, and Internet Explorer has the Developer Toolbar. It is interesting to test the visualization of email marketing with images blocked in both browsers, as each one behaves in a way in relation to the alternative texts. While Firefox accepts the font formatting assigned to the image tag, Internet Explorer only accepts the font color, keeping the browser family and size at the default – which can be changed by the user.
The basic structure of an HTML document is formed by the html, head, title and body elements. However, in the first line of code, before the html tag, it is important to insert a DOCTYPE declaration, which defines what type of HTML document to use. It is not a tag, but a browser instruction about which version of the markup language the document uses. There are two recommended document types for email marketing: HTML 4.01 Transitional and XHTML 1.0 Transitional. These two statements contain some tags that are already considered by W3C to be disused in newer versions, but are still required to ensure proper rendering of content on email clients. Not all support webstandards, so it is still necessary to use “older” tags in email marketing templates, such as the well-known font. Once completed, it is highly recommended to validate the template HTML code with W3C to verify that the syntax is correct, if all attributes have been entered properly, and if all tags have been closed. Valid code increases your chances of delivering the message to your inbox, as some antispam filters include code validation in your tests.
It is the sending of the template to all known and most used email clients to verify the message display. Each email client uses a different rendering engine, which means that not everyone supports the same features in the same way, including CSS and HTML. In this case, you might need an DeBounce email validation tool.
Testing the template view on email clients anticipates possible errors and items that need to be adjusted, such as object alignment within table cells. If the cell does not have the alignment attribute declared, many email clients tend to centralize its content, which can hurt readability.
With each new test with different templates, new features of email clients are discovered that should be added to the best known practices.