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Email Development

Why Forwarding Emails is So Bad

Email On Acid

When testing emails, forwarding can be the bane of a designer’s existence. This is especially true if you’re working with a 3rd party and don’t have access to their sending service. Perhaps the email you so carefully coded is being forwarded around the office for “quality assurance.” Now you’re hearing about all of the broken buttons and unstyled links. This is because each email client puts its own unique code modifications on an email when forwarding it, instead of forwarding the code it originally received.

Pay it Forward

Forwarding emails can cause all kinds of wonky rendering issues. These issues are usually caused by the sending email client, but can be compounded by the one that receives the email as well. Check out the examples below to see what kind of havoc forwarding can wreak on your emails.

Take this stackable 3 column section from our free responsive template. This is how it should look.

When an Outlook.com user forwards it to Yahoo, it might come out missing all the images!

Or if an Outlook.com user forwards to Office 365, it can break all of the buttons.

Even worse, when a Gmail user forwards to Outlook 2007, it can mess up your carefully coded tables.

Take a look at how this section’s vertical alignment was altered by an Outlook 2013 user who forwarded to Gmail.

How should you send an email for review?

Avoid forwarding emails for testing or review, otherwise you’ll spend your time fixing issues that don’t really exist. Here are a few ways to share an email that don’t require forwarding.

  • Run a test in our comprehensive email testing system, and share the test results. This will allow anybody with the link to see how the email renders in 70+ desktop clients, mobile clients and web clients with just a click of the mouse.
  • Enter your HTML into your ESP and send it the same way that you’ll send it to your customers. This will make sure that your tests are completely accurate, and save you valuable time. If you don’t have access to your sending service or ESP, ask a person who does have access to send you the email.
  • Send your code as an html file, and let the recipient open it in a browser. This won’t show how it looks in email clients, but it can let them take a look at the email’s design. They’ll also be able to see responsive behaviors triggering as they resize their browser window.
  • Send the email to yourself, take a screen capture of it, and then send that to others for review. This is a clunky way of doing things, but it ensures that they’re seeing exactly what you are.

What’s your review process?

Have you been bitten by the forwarding bugs? Let us know about your review process, and how you share emails, in the comments down below.

Try our tool free for 7 days and see what email testing can do for you.

About the Author

Geoff Phillips

Geoff Phillips

Half writer, half email builder/fixer and half customer support, Geoff is living his dream in a role that combines his many diverse interests. Code problem or tricky client got you down? Geoff's your man.

Join the Discussion

As unfortunate as it is, you also need to keep in mind that your email could be forwarded by consumers, relegating your message to the same fates you see above - except in a propsect's eyes. No easy answer for this, but you need to understand how much your content is organically forwarded and account for that in your design.
Chester Bullock
Another solution, simply put "Attach". The best way to send an actual email, is to attach the original tested email do not forward.

Or another way to share the tested email within your office is called... get ready... walking! take you laptop, or if you have a concrete block with a monitor for a computer have then come to you, it works every time.
DesignServices
I would say customers forwarding and therefore breaking emails can be helped by having that "View in a Web browser" link at the top. When I get a broken message forwarded to me, that is what I look for first.
Christopher Payne
That glitch forwarding from Outlook to Gmail is exactly what I've seen. Thanks for the tip that it's Outlook screwing it up.

But I must agree with Chester: there's no telling how your email will be forwarded, and I'll add that it being sent around is actually a GOOD thing! Except for intra-office testing issues, people sharing your info is great.
Brandon

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