Email Testing with Email on Acid: Review

If you have seen the movie, The Matrix, you know that some things are not always as they seem to be. I think there’s a parallel with email marketing. What we send is not necessarily what the recipient sees. There are at least 15 different email programs in wide use today (from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail) and how your email message and its all-too-valuable-content gets viewed by a reader is incredibly important.

Email on Acid is a web-based email testing service that aims to solve this problem for small and medium sized companies. As of this writing, it is a few weeks from being out of beta, however, Email on Acid is live and very useful. The application lets you test how your email will be received across a wide range of web and desktop email clients (the application your recipient uses to read your email). Oh, and it is still free while in beta.


What I like:

I can instantly see what my email will look like in any one of 15 different email applications. The funny thing is I consider myself somewhat savvy on all this, but I’m clearly not. I started by creating a simple email test by inserting a few images into Thunderbird and then I ran it through the Email on Acid test.  The images I inserted in my email did not show up in 5 of the 15 email applications. So unfortunately for me, my test email did not look as I had intended it to. Yikes.

From there, I decided that it was time to test out a few popular email templates from Campaign Monitor.  These are HTML designs that were purposefully created for mass distribution lists.  I was impressed to see that several of them passed with flying colors but what I found to be so cool about Email on Acid is that it pointed out exactly which lines of code for each template were not supported.  Although many of the errors reported didn’t affect the overall layout too much, I can see how useful this would be for any small, medium or large company looking to ensure that their email campaigns render correctly.


Before checking out this tool, I was under the impression that designing and developing emails was a relatively simple task.  But in the end, I realized that it’s actually much more complicated than I had thought.  Fortunately tools like Email on Acid can make it easier to ensure that what you see is what you get!

They also provide a 5-minute video tutorial.

Challenges I see:

If you are trying to compose your own email using an email application, it takes a few steps to run it through the Email on Acid test. You have to save your message as an HTML file and then test it. Easy enough and it only takes a few moments. They probably need to walk a person like me through the steps with a basic tutorial for each email client.

Secondly, I would think that Email on Acid has a lot to keep up with in the email marketing world. Changes from Microsoft updates or any of the web-based email clients could create potential discrepancies in their email test results.

I think it goes without saying that, email marketing is a constantly moving animal and companies will have to keep up with those changes or risk their emails not working or being relevant to their readers. Email on Acid makes it possible to do exactly that.

Who is it for?

Small business owners who are currently running email marketing campaigns. It is easy enough to run the tool if you have a URL or the HTML for your campaign.  If you do not have the technical chops, then have the email marketing team you hire conduct these tests so that you can see the results and know that it looks like what you expect. To date, I’ve not seen many web-based tools that can do this and if you use an email marketing company, I would encourage you to ask them for the test results.

In The Matrix, Neo has to choose the red pill or the blue pill. You have the same choice. You can choose to believe that your email recipients can see everything like you see it. Or, you can run the Email on Acid test and see what they really see.

Learn more about email testing with Email on Acid.


TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

9 Reactions
  1. TJ: Does the program include a tool for creating an email newsletter so you could see if it is compatible with all the different email clients?

  2. Hey Martin,
    No, I don’t believe so. Mainly this works for companies that are using email marketing programs or agencies and they get their email prototypes in the form of an html webpage (usually provided by the service you’re using) and then you can grab that code and insert it into Email on Acid’s email test service. I did a test in my Thunderbird account, but that’s not really how its to be used. Although it helped me realize what I was doing wrong in my own email efforts (which are small), it is really built for bigger campaigns. Does that help?

  3. TJ: Thanks for the explanation.

  4. Great review! As a small business owner, Email on Acid addresses a huge problem for us. I think it’ll enjoy much success if it rises to the challenges you mention.

  5. TJ: Wow, thanks so much for the fantastic review of our email acid test! We are thrilled that it has peaked the interest of some of your readers. We genuinely hope that this tool is useful to anyone currently managing ongoing HTML email campaigns.

    In the meantime, if anyone should have additional questions, feel free to ask away!

    Michelle Klann

  6. @Keith DeLong – thanks for the kind comments. I write a lot of reviews, but Email on Acid really wowed me. What they’ve cracked is not that easy to crack and it is very helpful for those who are email marketers. The ability to check a campaign and see how it looks in 15 different clients with details as to what’s wrong with it is pretty cool.

  7. @Michelle Please keep us updated on your app. We found it useful for our readers. We’d like to learn more about email marketing, that’s for sure.
    We’ll follow your tweets, too.

  8. Seems like a pretty cool product. A lot of businesses could use help in this area. Good thing you’re educating them on viable options!

  9. I have used a number of tools and found email on acid wins hands down.