Apr 25, 2011

Inbox Inspections Now Free

We first launched our Inbox Inspector tool in May 2007. It was pretty revolutionary at the time (ahem, imho) to be offering a "one-click" testing service like this to the masses. Unfortunately, it also seemed fairly expensive to most people. $39 for three tests seemed high (still, much cheaper than an embarrassing email design mistake). Over the years, we kept reducing its price, eventually whittling it down to under $5 per test.

But we’re pretty excited to announce that we’re now making Inbox Inspections totally free…

In order to make this happen, we had to make some big changes. So if you’re a heavy user of this feature, you’ll want to read all the details below. Also, there’s a slight catch to all this, but dont’ worry: it’s only temporary (more on that below too).


10 Most Used Email Programs

In general, running an Inbox Inspection works the same as always. You build your campaign, then hit the "run inspection" button:

You’ll notice there’s no more "you have x number of inspections remaining" and there’s no upsell option to "buy more inspections." That’s because they’re free now (duh).

The campaign previews are being processed by a new service provider, Litmus. Because of some differences to the way their API works, you’ll probably notice that everything feels a little zippier than before.

After you click the "Run Inbox Inspection" button, you get this:

That’s the first big change. Before, we just generated a ton of screenshots. It was cool to see how your email looks in all kinds of crazy email apps around the world, but if nobody on my list checks email from Japan’s "Goo" client, I really don’t want to deal with (or wait for) that particular screenshot. I really just want to know what my email looks like in the most popular email programs for my subscriber list. So now, MailChimp uses that cool user-agent report (launched last July) to determine what the 10 most used email programs are for your list.

And those are the 10 screens we show by default.

For one of my campaigns, the 10 most popular email programs in all the different variations provided by Litmus yielded 32 screenshots:


For example, you get all the different variations of Outlook 2003 you’d expect:

with images on, images off, plus what it looks like inside the preview pane (with images on/off).

Full Program Views

Previously, we showed you only the email portion, and had a dotted line where it was cut off on the screen. Now, you get a "full program" view of what it looks like inside the email app. In the case of Hotmail, which extracts Youtube clips and displays them separately from your email (um, at the top), this makes a huge difference:


Explorer vs. Firefox

For webmail apps, like Gmail, Hotmail, etc., we now display what it looks like in both Internet Explorer and Firefox:


Apple Mail (hallelujah)

Inbox Inspections now include Apple Mail, too:


Web-based Views

And you’ll notice a variant where we display how your email’s subject line looks within the inbox of different email programs:

Above, you can see where my subject gets cut off by Gmail.


Manual Override

If you have the need to see your email rendered in some other email program (let’s say I wanted to check Lotus Notes or the iPad), there’s a "manual client selection" checkbox:

which expands to reveal all your different options. Keep in mind that in any given inspection that you run, we’ll only do 10 at a time. If you want more reports, they’re still free, but you’ll have to run them manually again. I’ll be honest with you: this is solely to keep that delicate balance between freemium and moochium in check. This is free for you, but not free for us.


New Previews and Spam Filter Checks

Here’s a list of all the campaign previews available:

  1. Outlook 2007
  2. Outlook 2003
  3. Yahoo! Mail (Explorer)
  4. Yahoo! Mail (Firefox)
  5. Android 2.2Gmail (Firefox)
  6. Hotmail (Explorer)
  7. Apple Mail 4
  8. Hotmail (Firefox)
  9. iPhone
  10. Plain Text
  11. Symbian S60
  12. Thunderbird 2.0
  13. Thunderbird 3.0
  14. Outlook 2010
  15. Me.com (Firefox)
  16. Outlook 2000
  17. Outlook 2002/XP
  18. Windows Mobile 6.5
  19. Gmail (Explorer)
  20. BlackBerry Text
  21. BlackBerry HTML
  22. AOL Mail (Firefox)
  23. Apple Mail 3
  24. iPad
  25. Lotus Notes 7
  26. Lotus Notes 8
  27. Lotus Notes 8.5
  28. Lotus Notes 6.5
  29. AOL Mail (Explorer)

And here are all the spam filter checks available:

  1. Gmail
  2. Outlook
  3. Barracuda
  4. MessageLabs
  5. Postini
  6. Mail.com
  7. FastMail
  8. Hushmail
  9. Lycos
  10. Mobile Me
  11. GMX
  12. Yahoo! Mail


Smart Folder Under /Reports

Under the Reports section in your account, you’ll see a new smart folder, where we store all your Inbox Inspections in one convenient place:


And We’re Not Done Yet

For now, Inbox Inspections are free so long as you’re a customer on a monthly plan or if you’re a Creative Agency Partner. Yeah, we know. But we had to do it this way, because of time constraints (on our part). Long term, we want users to know that our  plan is to bundle the Inbox Inspector with our free Delivery Doctor feature, and to make this a comprehensive testing suite that’s available as an a la carte feature for pay-as-you-go (PAYG) customers too. For now, any PAYG or monthly user that had Inbox Inspection credits in their account will see them converted to Monkey Rewards points, which can be used to buy email credits (or you can save the points to buy inspections when they’re available for you again).