The future of functional testing for emails

Explore the influence of AI tools, learn to address common errors, and understand the nuances of testing interactive components.

Like any technology-driven process, functional testing for emails is evolving – and best practices in the future are not going to be the same as they are now. There are several key factors causing email campaigns and testing to change right now, including the drastic increase in AI tools, more accessible data, and more. In this article, we’ll go over a few of these areas, how they’re impacting email testing, and what you can look for in the future.

Artificial intelligence and email testing

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT have been in the spotlight lately, showcasing the ability to quickly generate written text on a wide range of topics in different formats, but don’t be too quick to trust their results. AI doesn’t necessarily make the same mistakes people do. There are a lot of possible errors you might not be used to looking for, some more common than others.

If you’re using AI-generated writing, you’ll want to specialize your email testing campaign for the errors an AI is likely to make. You’ll also want to review your testing and results regularly and tweak them as needed, since there’s not much precedent for this type of testing. As time passes, people will get more familiar with the pitfalls in using AI-generated writing and best practices for creating tests will become more thoroughly studied.

Common errors in AI-written emails

Generative AI tools are trained off enormous samples of written text scraped from all corners of the internet. They cannot tell if something is true, they don’t understand nuance, and they don’t understand if something is inappropriate, rude, or illegal. People make and incorporate tools to try to filter the AI’s results, but they aren’t perfect and sometimes things get through. This makes it absolutely critical that you thoroughly test your emails if you’re using AI to write portions of them.

Some of the mistakes you might find in an email written by an AI include poor writing quality, factually incorrect statements, inappropriate and/or discriminatory statements, conflicting grammar and spelling conventions, and more. Some of these are more severe issues than others, but all of them will make your emails look unprofessional to some degree.

Interactive emails are on the rise

Emails are getting more and more interactive components to increase engagement with their audience and create more personalized experiences. One common way to add a little interaction to an email is using form fields within the email, collecting user input without them having to click a link or open another page. This can be used to get ratings on products, feedback from surveys, and reserving bookings, along with anything else you can come up with.

Another way to make emails interactive is to have them respond to user interaction without using fields, such as having the email change its appearance based off a user hovering or swiping, adding buttons that alter the email, or even embedding simple games. All of these require more extensive programming, and therefore more testing to make sure they’re working properly.

What to look for when testing interactive components

Any part of your email that takes user input is going to have its own unique sets of errors and bugs to look for depending on the code, and the complexity of the testing will depend on the complexity of the code.

Code that takes user input will need to check that input to make sure it fits the right format and has valid characters, and will need to have limits on the form inputs so when someone puts in something incorrectly they have the opportunity to fix it. This also prevents errors from piling up when the incorrect input gets passed through the code and creates more errors. This is a good practice so that any pieces of code depending on those inputs can be written assuming they are only getting valid inputs in the range you specify, instead of having to deal with invalid inputs.

More thorough testing is needed for code embedding games and videos in emails. Not only will they need to be checked to make sure they work properly with different email clients, but all the branching options of each interactive element will need to be tested with each email client. They’re very resource-intense to develop and test, but they perform very well from a marketing standpoint.

Email servers and clients evolving

The amount of data passing through the internet and being stored, including emails, is increasing with every passing year. To give some sense of just how big this increase is, experts estimate the demand for servers to handle and store all this data to increase annually by 7.8% over the next five years.

What this means for email functional testing is there will be a steadily increasing volume in the amount of testing that needs to be completed, just from having so many more emails. This also will drive the development of more email clients and other variables that will need to be tested, increasing the amount of testing each email requires.

The increased need for functional testing will in turn encourage the development of new tools and techniques, and streamline developing best practices for AI and interactive component testing. You can also expect more investments in testing automation to save time and money, which will lead to the development of better, more specialized testing tools.

Another improvement to look forward to is the increased general knowledge around email functional testing, especially for custom tests written in languages like Cypress and Selenium that are extremely flexible. More testing, both in volume and complexity, means there will be more people working out solutions to similar problems, and more experts to get help from when you run into a particularly thorny piece of code.

Learn more about functional testing

Mailosaur specializes in helping people with email and SMS functional testing by providing software that integrates with Playground, Selenium, Cypress, and others to help you create robust, custom testing campaigns. Learn more by checking out some of our other articles, or contact us with any questions you have!