Sep 15, 2016

Making the Most of Inbox Preview

MailChimp’s preview of how Gmail renders a recent What’s In Store campaign

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when that beauty is your email marketing and that beholder is an email client, well, things can get lost in translation. Email clients aren’t as consistent at rendering emails as web browsers are at rendering websites. For example, a campaign opened on an iPhone will look different from the same campaign opened in Outlook 2007. After all, Outlook 2007 renders HTML emails using code borrowed from Microsoft Word rather than Internet Explorer! Email is a mad world.

So, how can you design an email that looks great across any platform your subscribers might use? Inbox Preview.

Our Inbox Preview feature shows what your campaign will look like in more than 40 different email clients, so you can refine your campaign before sending. Inbox Preview is available to everyone and uses a token system; each time you successfully create or update a preview, the cost is one token. Each billing cycle, Monthly Plan accounts will receive 25 free tokens, and MailChimp Pro accounts will receive 1,000 free tokens. All users have the option to purchase additional bundles of 25, 50, or 100 tokens.

Which email clients should you test?

There are tons of email clients and platforms, but thankfully, you don’t have to worry about all of them. Given the fundamental differences in clients, you should be prepared for some variation to remain, but we’ve done some analysis to help you develop an efficient testing strategy.

Start by testing clients that are popular within your list. You can find that information by taking a look at the Top Email Clients section on the Lists page of your MailChimp account. If no one’s using Lotus Notes 9, for example, you can safely skip that one.

While we’re at it, these are the most popular clients across all MailChimp lists:

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Mobile email clients (like iOS and Android) have a strong presence on this list–combined, they represent more than 50% of the top 15 clients. While you should optimize your campaigns based on your own list’s top clients, it’s likely that a mobile client or 2 is popular among your subscribers. For tips on making the most of your campaigns on mobile, check out some of our suggested best practices for mobile campaigns and findings on mobile email engagement.

We’ve covered the landscape of email client use and discussed some general strategies for testing your campaigns. Next time, we’ll dig a little deeper and quantify differences in the way some of the top email clients render emails. In the meantime, we’d love to hear how Inbox Preview is helping you improve your campaigns.