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Have You Tested Your Template Recently? Here’s 8 Reasons Why You Should


Most of the time, you don’t need a brand spanking new design to get your point across—what you have already works. That’s why an email template is the easiest way to streamline your email campaign. But using a template doesn’t let you off the hook from testing.

Email marketing mistakes happen. We’re all human. With a template, though, we let our guard down. Because they often come “pre-tested,” we forget to test ourselves. Here are a few things you should definitely keep in mind when using templates—because no template is truly invincible.

What is a Template?

Let’s start with the basics. Litmus Community Manager Jason Rodriguez defines a template as “a reusable HTML file used to build email campaigns.”

Whether you’re looking to drum up excitement for your next event, strike the right note with your next receipt, or start up a holiday campaign, templates are definitely an email marketer’s friend:

  • They make your email campaigns more consistent in branding, style, and functionality.
  • Since the underlying code is already written, you can produce campaigns faster.
  • If you’re not into coding, it’s a great way to produce something beautiful with much less effort.
  • With the code already completed, you can spend more time crafting the perfect copy.

Try Litmus Community Templates

At Litmus, we love using templates. That’s why we created Litmus Community Templates, a collection of free, pre-tested designs for you to use in your next campaign.

Access the templates →


8 Reasons It’s Critical To Test Your Template Every Time

Replacing Default Content

Many templates come preloaded with placeholder content—lorem ipsum and stock images to show you where to insert your own copy and images. Because there’s something already there, it can be easy to overlook that default content. Testing your templates ensures that nothing gets sent with a rogue CTA or a paragraph that NEEDS MORE EDITING HERE.


Double check your spelling and grammar when you do switch content out. Email copywriting takes diligence and an eye for detail. You might craft the perfect message only to have to edit, edit, and edit some more. With all of that tweaking and tinkering, minor details can get lost in the shuffle. You wouldn’t want to mix up “there,” “their,” or “they’re,” by accident!

“At last, the email goes out the door. But our celebration came to an immediate end when we received a call from the executive office asking if we read the 3rd article below the president’s greeting which read, ‘A great selection of multimedia asses from our archives.’ We forgot the ‘t’ in ‘assets’”. – Guilda Hilaire, who shared her full story in the Litmus Community

Definitely not what Guilda intended.

Double checking for typos, missed words, or other casualties of the writing process (and too little coffee, perhaps) can save you from embarrassment down the line.

embarrassing tweet

In today’s social media age, it’s not uncommon to get called out on social media, too. It never hurts to run through spell check or have someone else read through it one more time.


Whether you’re driving traffic to a registration page, blog post, or pricing page, ensuring that your links work correctly and take subscribers to the appropriate page can make or break your campaign.

If you don’t switch out your links with the correct ones, it might leave the subscriber confused and cause them to not take the intended action. And if they don’t work at all, then it’s a major missed opportunity.

Testing also makes sure that each link is properly tracked and attributed to the correct campaign. If you’re using Google Analytics, check to make sure it has the correct UTM parameters.


Are your images displaying properly? Are they the correct images?

Images tend to pose a problem with email campaigns because of varying degrees of support from email clients. Some email applications block images automatically, so you need to make sure you’re optimizing all of your images for image-off viewing.

sample email with alt text

ALT text is a great way to provide a bit of context (and perhaps a pun or two) for your subscribers, as well as making your emails more accessible to visually impaired subscribers using screen readers.

In addition, you should swap out any default images—or images from past sends—so that you’re not repeating yourself or derailing your email with the wrong message.

Preview Text

Despite all of the work that goes into a campaign, only a fraction of all emails ever get opened. What can put yours over the edge? Great preview text.

Preview text is the snippet of copy pulled in from the body of your email. It typically displays underneath the from name and subject line in your subscriber’s inbox.

sample subject line

Making sure that your preview text stays on-message and matches the content of your email is a small detail that can make a big difference when it comes to your success metrics. We’ve seen optimized preview text impact open rates up to 45%.

Preview text is often hidden. Even though it’s displayed in the inbox view, it won’t actually be seen in the body of the email but in the code itself. Testing preview text makes sure that this coveted space is put to its best possible use.

Dynamic Content and Personalization

If you’re including personalization or dynamic content in your campaign, be sure to test it before sending. No one wants to see “Dear NAME,” in their email!

When dealing with personalization, it’s essential to get your merge tags correct. Also known as personalization fields, substitution strings, or personalization tags, these allow you to insert the data from your mailing list directly into your email campaigns. When using MailChimp, for example, you might want to address your subscriber directly by pulling the merge tag *|FNAME|*. Doing so replaces that code with the actual subscriber’s first name.

Great example from our friends at Zapier of email mistakes.
Great example from our friends at Zapier of email mistakes.

If you’ve switched ESPs, merge tags might have changed—so double checking each spot for personalization, and testing to make sure it works, is very important. In addition, make sure you have fallbacks for when you don’t have a subscriber’s data.

Spam Filter Testing

Though your template might not be changing, any changes to your IP address, email authentication methods, or your content can impact your deliverability. Spam filter testing means all the hard work you’ve put into optimizing and double-checking your content won’t go to waste.

Example of Litmus Spam Filter Test

Get your email scanned by every major spam filter before you send with Litmus Spam Filter Testing, so you can rest assured you’re reaching the inbox.


Make sure you leave your subscribers on a good note. To comply with various spam regulations, make sure that your footer always includes your company name and address, as well a clear place for your subscribers to opt-out of your emails. (Not doing so isn’t just sneaky—it’s violating the law!)

Sample Litmus footer

Many senders miss the opportunity to customize their footer. Rather than a generic, “don’t want to receive any more emails? Unsubscribe here” message, adding context and connecting the footer to what the email is about makes for a better experience. Or, use the footer to remind your subscribers why they’re receiving your email.

If you’re customizing a template, be sure to update the footer, too. Avoid any confusion in your subscribers by keeping them properly informed of why they’re receiving your campaign, while giving them an easy way to opt-out of future sends.

Changing Support From Email Clients

Email clients consistently update their support for various features from displaying preview text to HTML5 video. This means that while your template may have worked everywhere last week, it may not work everywhere today. Testing your template before every send can catch any support changes and ensure that no matter where your subscribers read your email, they’ll be able to see your message as you intended.

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff With Litmus Checklist

With Litmus Checklist, you can easily test your emails in over 50 desktop, webmail, and mobile inboxes, and get a guided check of the critical elements that affect email performance and deliverability before sending. Test before every send with Litmus and receive peace of mind.

Send with confidence →

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