Webinar Recap: What Email Previews Don’t Tell You
Email previews are an essential step of any email review process before deployment. We never send an email ourselves without running a final email test and sharing those previews to team members. But those handy screenshots don’t always give you the whole story of your email’s content health.
When You Bee-Line for the Previews
Your email looks good, at least based on the preview tests you ran and the screenshots you looked at. But…
Don’t get us wrong, email previews a great way to see a message from subscribers’ points of view. They are a vital part of the pre-deployment process—but they only show you surface-level issues.
Email previews can’t check your email HTML for spelling errors, image alt text, functioning URLs, or anything else under the surface. By nature, screenshots aren’t interactive, meaning you can’t click around like you would an actual email. You’re limited to its face value.
The way an email looks is important – but equally important is the content quality the email’s functionality. Nothing will turn a subscriber off faster than spelling errors, a bad user experience, or broken links. Content checking applies to the whole email, not just how it looks when it’s open.
This goes a long way in protecting your brand’s reputation with your subscribers as well. If email issues are a regular thing they’ve come to expect from your messages, they might be less willing to open future ones.
In our recent webinar, we chatted about all things that your screenshot may not be telling you. You can watch the whole thing here.
Or, if you learn best by reading, we’ve got you covered. Here’s the recap.
A Look Behind the Screenshot
Let’s take this preview.
At first glance, this email looks send-ready across clients and devices. But there are several key content checks that only a tool like Campaign Precheck can test for.
And yes, these checks can be done manually, but that process takes at least several hours longer.
The last thing you want to do is send out an email with a spelling error that makes you look sloppy. Or even worse, one containing accidental profanity that might offend your subscribers. Using Campaign Precheck, you can check every inch of your email—even the HTML—for spelling errors.
The tool will flag any potential mistakes it finds, including often overlooked spots, like your email’s title, preheader text and alt text. It then provides suggested corrections, giving you the option to change to a suggested word or ignore. Spell Check can fix the spelling error in real time and adjust the code for you, if you choose.
If it weren’t for Spell Check, this spelling error would have otherwise been missed using just a screenshot.
Essential for accessibility, alt text allows you to describe images for those using screen readers to read email. Email previews won’t tell you if alt text has been set or not – but Campaign Precheck will. You can set alt text for each image and automatically apply those changes to the code.
Related article: Mastering Styled Alt Text in Email
Why is alt text so important? Because it gives screen reader users a good experience, and it also works on email clients with image blocking.
How alt text sounds to a screen reader user
Let’s say we haven’t set the alt text for our Email on Acid logo in this email. If Siri or a screen reader reads your email, it would sound like:
Not a great experience, right? There are a couple of ways to fix this:
- Add specific alt text to each image so the screen reader will read those descriptions instead of the image’s URL path or file name.
- Add an empty alt tag to all your images by clicking ADD ALT TO ALL. This will add a blank alt tag to any images in your HTML, and the screen reader will skip over those descriptions.
Now listen to how the alt text sounds for screen reader users when we add the alt text “Email on Acid logo”:
Much more enjoyable listening experience, right?
a few last tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t repeat image alt text. Use different alt text for each image, even if they are similar. Or, use a blank alt text tag for one to avoid repetition.
- Be descriptive but watch the length. Although you want to be descriptive with your alt text, keep the user experience in mind. If you need multiple sentences to describe an image’s context, it probably belongs in the body copy of the email.
- Not every image requires alt text. If there are decorative elements that don’t add much context to the email, simply add blank alt text and call it a day.
Make sure to keep accessibility in mind when content checking emails. Your screenshots may allow you to eyeball your contrast ratio and to see if links are underlined for a rough accessibility check, but that’s about it.
Email previews won’t be able to tell you if the content itself is accessible. Always run your HTML through Campaign Precheck to make sure that everyone on your list will be able to understand your email.
One of the most important parts of any email to check is the CTA. A screenshot will show that the button looks great and the copy is compelling to drive the click. But what if the link is broken? What if your UTMs are incorrect and this link is actually using the wrong campaign parameters?
URL Validation automatically tests the URLs, UTMs and redirects in the email to ensure they go to a real web address, and allows you to preview links right from the platform. If any URLs fail to load, double-check those links and fix any issues before you hit send. Those failing URLs won’t load for your subscribers either.
Bonus: Summary Page
For your final content check, we provide a report card to show you which steps you tested for and what changes were made. You can review original and modified code side by side, and download both assets as a zip file.
If you need to make code changes yourself but need a little help, consult this handy guide.
You’re now ready to launch an email test and view your screenshots. With everything behind the scenes perfected, it’s now time to see how the email previews look.
Dig Deeper into Your Email Content
You want to send perfect emails. And you can. Campaign Precheck tests your email for accessibility, validates images and URLs, and provides essential content checks, like Spell Check and Inbox Display, so you can hit send with confidence. P.S. You can try it free for 7 days.
Author: Kirsten Queen
With a background in marketing and a passion for content creation, Kirsten has written copy for ecommerce email efforts and e-newsletters. She now serves as Email on Acid’s social media coordinator and has enjoyed the deep dive into the close-knit and passionate world of the Email Geeks.