It’s every marketer’s worst nightmare: You spend hours perfecting an email campaign, only to discover your beautiful design doesn’t look right in customers’ inboxes. Fortunately, email preview tools can save you the heartache and help you hit “send” with confidence.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the top options to make sure your subscribers see your emails as you intended.

Start with your email marketing software

Before you start shopping around for third-party tools, see whether the software you already use offers preview options. Email marketing platforms and email builders often have preview tools built in.

Mailchimp, for example, partners with Litmus to offer a limited number of email previews each month as part of their monthly subscription plan. The email builder Stripo includes one of the best email previewers out there, showing how emails will look on over 70 devices and apps.

Cost: Included in your existing plan

Testsubject

Testsubject preview of an email subject line on an iPhone that cuts off the L in pool.

If you just need a check to make sure your subject line isn’t too long, the digital design company Zurb has just the tool for you. Simply copy and paste your subject line and preview text, and Testsubject will show you how your email will appear on a variety of mobile devices.

Cost: Free

Mailninja

Screenshot of the Mailninja email preview tool with HTML code and email display side-by-side.

Mailninja offers a basic email preview tool for free. Simply paste in your email’s HTML code and get an instant preview. You can also see how your email will look when image display is disabled, check your image alt texts and toggle between desktop and mobile.

Cost: Free

PutsMail by Litmus

Screenshot of the PutsMail homepage.

PutsMail is a free email preview tool owned by Litmus, a leader in email testing software. For anyone looking to do a quick and simple check, PutsMail is a great alternative to Litmus’s paid products. For more advanced options, like automated checks and link verification, you’ll need to upgrade to Litmus’s paid product.

Cost: Free

Litmus

Screenshot from Litmus's email preview tool.

Litmus’s core product is a more powerful email testing tool that goes beyond previews. It offers testing across 90 platforms and clients – including dark mode – as well as features like subject line analysis. Litmus automates the process of checking for problems across all clients, flagging problems so you don’t have to find them manually. That can save you a lot of time.

Cost: $99/month for individuals, $199/month for team access

Email Preview Services

Email Preview Service's user interface showing different previews.

Email Preview Services is another paid tool that combines sophisticated email testing and email analytics, as well as spam and authentication testing. Email Preview Services’ design previews come from screenshots taken on real devices. They offer multiple options to test emails, from simply copying and pasting HTML to API integrations.

While not as much of an established brand, Email Preview Services offers similar features to Litmus at a lower price point.

Cost: Individual plans start at $25/month. Team plans start at $160/month.

Closing thoughts

Whether you use a basic email preview tool to do a quick check or integrate a premium service into your email marketing workflow, it’s always worth testing your marketing emails. After all the work you put into your campaign, you wouldn’t want a formatting problem or broken CTA link to stop would-be conversions in their tracks.

Kate Lindemann

Kate Lindemann | Canto

A marketing and digital communications specialist, Kate helps brands connect with customers – from crafting the perfect message to finding the right way to deliver it.