In the spirit of working smarter, not harder, here are eight tools that can maximize your email marketing efficiency.
1. Scope - Go behind-the-scenes of an inspiring email
Have you ever wondered how that beautiful email in your inbox got so beautiful? Scope creates a web-based version of any email you choose and reveals its HTML source code, mobile rendering, and desktop and plain-text views.
The free tool, created by the email marketers at Litmus, comes as a bookmarklet and works inside supported email clients like Gmail. Open an email, click the Scope button in your bookmark bar, and start inspecting.
2. Premailer - Convert HTML design to email-ready inline CSS
The retro nature of email design—heavy on tables, blind to external CSS—makes life interesting for designers. Styles must be declared inside each element, which can be a tedious-if-not-interminable task. To save time and sanity, you can convert a well-designed HTML file to inline CSS using a tool like Premailer.
The free service lets you link to an online HTML file or copy and paste HTML code. What sets Premailer apart is that you can further customize your new file by appending tracking codes onto links and checking through a list of helpful options like removing unused tags and comments. Premailer even tells you HTML and CSS warnings you might want to watch for the next time you design.
3. Beaker - Convert HTML email to plain text
To quickly convert your HTML email masterpiece into plain text, you can use a service like Beaker, which does the transitioning for you. A product of the Mailchimp Labs team, Beaker reads through your HTML email, grabs the text and hyperlinks, and spits out a simple, text-only version. It's no site to see, but it's functional. That's why people choose to receive plain-text emails, right?
4. Email Spam Test - Test your email against a spam filter
Be proactive against improper spam labeling by first running your email through a spam check like the free Email Spam Test. Input your subject line and HTML source code, and Email Spam Test will run your email against various tests like Bayesian spam filtering, link trackers, and more. You get a spam score and a full report at the finish.
5. Mailchimp - Get suggestions for your subject line
When composing the perfect subject line, it never hurts to have a little help. Mailchimp has one of the best resources for quality subject lines built right into its campaign software. When composing a new email, enter your proposed subject line and click on the link to 'research subject lines'. A pop-up will appear and tell you if you're on the right track and even make suggestions for alternatives.
If you are interested in a one-off subject line service, you can try SubjectLine.com. The site gives you marketing tips and a score based on the subject line you submit. You get one freebie before the site asks you to sign up.
6. Litmus - See how your email looks in different email clients
All email clients—Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.—choose to display emails differently, so it helps to know how your recipients might be receiving your message. Email services like Mailchimp and Constant Contact offer inbox inspection for free when you create an account. Litmus does them one better by showing you how your email looks in 34 different inboxes, and you don't have to sign up to see the results. Enter your HTML code and your email address, and Litmus will run the tests and email you when the results are ready.
7. Pictaculous - Match your email colour scheme to your main image
If you are trying to achieve symmetry with your main image and your colour scheme, Pictaculous can tell you which colors to use based on the image you upload. The free tool even goes so far as to suggest color palettes from Kuler and ColourLovers, along with the default hex color suggestions.
8. Chimp Feedr - Combine RSS feeds to create the perfect RSS-to-email campaign
If you have ever 'clicked here to subscribe to updates,' you have likely been a part of an RSS-to-email campaign. And if you've ever thought of creating your own campaign across multiple feeds or sites, Chimp Feedr is the tool to get that job done. Combine 10 or more RSS feeds to create one gigantic feed that you can then feed into your email service for your new campaign.
I hope some of these are new to you and help you improve the quality of your emails or your workflow.
Do you recommend any other email tools that save you time?