You've now selected the email marketing and newsletter sending platform that you'll be using and gone through the steps to set it up. However, in order to save yourself headaches and extra work later, it's advisable to go through a few simple email marketing platform testing procedures to ensure that everything is working the way that you want it to before you unleash your email program onto the public. Here is a quick checklist of tests to run so that you can rest easy that everything is working the way that you anticipated that it would work.

Test One: Email Subscription Test

The first thing that you will want to do is to test the subscription process using seed accounts. To do this, you'll want to set up "test" or seed accounts at the major ISP and email providers. Essentially, you'll want a hotmail address, a gmail address, a Yahoo! address and an AOL address. As email programs can launch quickly, you may also need another email address. You'll also want to sign up using at least one email that is delivered to an Outlook inbox.

Now, sign-up using your new email subscription form with each of these emails. Then, go back to the inbox in which you check those emails and make sure that you have received your confirmation email and that it went to the inbox instead of the spam folder. If you are using a double-opt in email subscription process then be sure to click the confirmation link in your email as well.

Now, go do your email sending platform's back end administration interface and make sure that all of the new email addresses (and any other information that should have gotten captured, such as first name or user name or email list preference) is recorded and in the database.

If any of these processes do not work as they are supposed to, make sure that they are fixed prior to launching your email program.

Test Two: Send an Email to Your Test List

The second test is to send an email to your test list using your email marketing platform and using the same email template that you will later use for your mass sends. After you send the email, log into your test accounts and check for all of the following:

  • Was your email delivered to the inbox or to the spam folder?
  • Did the email include an unsubscribe link as well as your physical mailing address?
  • Did the email display in the inbox as you wanted it to, or did the html or design break (Remember, your images may not show up. Images that do not display do not mean that your email is broken.)
  • Is the "from" name and email address correct?

In short, you want to make sure that your email actually made it to your inboxes and that it displayed in the same what that you anticipated that it would display.

If any of these processes do not work as they are supposed to, make sure that they are fixed prior to launching your email program.

Test Three: Test the Tracking on Your Test Email

You have opened your email using all of your test accounts. Now, also click various links using your test accounts. Make sure to keep track of what links you clicked and how many times you clicked.

After you have done that, log in to your email marketing or newsletter sending platform's administrative back end and go to the tracking and reporting feature. You may need to wait up to twenty-four hours to do this depending on your service provider. Some email reporting features are not instant.

Make sure that the number of emails opened is at least close to the number of emails that you actually opened. You may not experience 100% accuracy with this metric. Open rate is most commonly tracked using a pixel (an image). Because not all email programs load images, some of your opens may go untracked. However, your tracking should be reasonably close.

Make sure the click-through tracking count is accurate, and, if your email sending platform tracks which individual links are clicked, make sure that that number aligns with what you clicked. Be aware of whether your email sending platform tracks clicks by an individual or total clicks basis so that you understand what the number should look like.

If any of these processes do not work as they are supposed to, make sure that they are fixed prior to launching your email program.

Step Four: Unsubscribe from Your Email List

Finally, you want to be sure that when people unsubscribe from your list that process is handled correctly. Go back and unsubscribe from your email list using at least one of your test accounts. Then log in to your email marketing or newsletter sending platform and confirm that the email you unsubscribed with has been removed from the proper list. Again, this may not be instant. Know what the time frame for managing unsubscribes is from your provider and be sure that any email addresses that you have unsubscribed with have been handled within this time frame.

If any of these processes do not work as they are supposed to, make sure that they are fixed prior to launching your email program.

Once you have completed these four tests, you can be assured that your email marketing or newsletter sending platform is optimally operational, and you can begin the next, most exciting process – designing your email campaigns!

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