For some of you, testing emails is an individual activity. You set things up and you control emails as they flow into your Mailtrap inbox. You then inspect each, make the necessary fixes, and test again. And again.
But very often there’s someone else interested in tracking your progress. It could be a client, a product owner, a manager, or simply a colleague. They want to be able to test the entire workflow for themselves and see each email in a sequence. They wish to click through links, preview emails on all their devices, and see if the brand is being well represented.
If you’ve ever had to create reports, manually forward countless emails, or take dozens of screenshots to demonstrate a simple workflow, you know what kind of annoyance reporting can be.
Join us as we explore the biggest pains from reporting in a traditional testing environment. We’ll also talk about how Mailtrap addresses each of them.
Why is reporting from a test environment painful?
You drop a note to a client that you wrapped up the password reset sequence on staging. You’re about to push it to production but then she’s like “let me try it first”. Why is it never simple?
You can’t forward emails from an isolated staging environment
Very often, the staging environment is isolated from production. It’s great for email testing purposes. There’s no risk of spamming real users by accident when using production data for non-production purposes.
But at the same time, you’re not able to forward emails to a product owner or a client. And if they’re not on staging, they can’t test certain workflows themselves.
This is when the auto-forwarding feature comes into the picture. With Mailtrap, you can set rules for auto-forwarding so that emails received from staging are routed directly to specific inboxes, leaving a copy of each in your Mailtrap inbox.
Without Mailtrap, you need to take screenshots, copy/paste the HTML, or find other creative ways of showing test emails to a stakeholder.
Emails forwarded via email clients look different
Using Mailtrap solves yet another problem. Let’s say you chose to send test emails to your dummy email address or to your personal Gmail account. You would then forward them to a client so they can audit them in their inbox.
The problem is that Gmail and many other providers tend to change the format of forwarded emails. As a result, what a recipient sees is often different than what a platform would send to an actual user.
To avoid this fate, forward emails with Mailtrap. Emails will look just as they would look to an end-user (unless your email client decides to render them differently). And if you have no use for auto-forwarding, you can use Mailtrap to manually forward particular emails to the product owner.
Data reports take time
Many product owners will want to see some data behind the emails. They will probably ask how many have been sent and received, for starters. And who’s a better person to ask these questions than a person testing the workflows, meaning you. Unless you’re a huge fan of spreadsheets, you’ll want to get rid of this dull task at all costs.
Of course, you could auto-forward all emails to their inboxes so they can check them themselves. But it will be neither a quick or a pleasant experience. What you could do instead is share particular Mailtrap inboxes with them so they can see the numbers for themselves.
Monitoring production emails is problematic
Even after you finish a project and move on to the next one, many clients will want to monitor the health of their email sequences. How do you go about it? By bcc’ing your testing environment.
This way, a copy of each email will be delivered straight to a Mailtrap inbox for a client to see and analyze. Many will want to look at the code behind each message. For each, Mailtrap will report on any HTML/CSS issues and will let you check their spam score.
How to set up Mailtrap for better reporting
Let’s talk now about how to set up the features we just talked about.
Please note that some of them are not available on a free plan. You’ll need to upgrade to take advantage of the full Mailtrap experience.
Auto-forwarding is very straightforward. You set up certain conditions to start. Then, when an email meeting the specified conditions arrives into a given inbox, it’s immediately forwarded to a given email address.
You can have many different rules (up to 300) matching ‘To’ or ‘cc’ fields in either an email address or its domain. Set them up in the Auto Forward tab.
Note that you’ll have to verify each recipient. They will need to click on a link sent to their inbox. Also, you’ll have to add a brief txt record to the domain’s DNS record for additional verification. We’re sorry for making it a bit of a hassle but these are the necessary steps we needed to take to keep spammers away from Mailtrap.
On the plus side, once an email address and its domain are verified, you’ll be able to auto-forward emails there without any further obstacles. Also, if you need to add new rules or edit existing ones for such an address, you won’t need to verify it again.
Forwarding emails manually
First of all, you’ll need to add the email address that you want to forward to your list of recipients. Head back to the home page, pick the inbox of your choice, and open the Manual Forward tab above your credentials.
Now, enter the email address you want to forward emails to and confirm by clicking on Add Email.
The address will be added to the list below and shortly thereafter a verification email will hit their inbox. Until they confirm their willingness to receive your emails, their status will remain ‘pending’ and you won’t be able to forward emails to them. This is, of course, a security measure put in place to protect you from spammers of any sort.
Back in your Mailtrap account, you can open any email from the inbox and click on the Forward email icon to the right. Type in an email address you want to forward to and click Send.
Assuming a recipient did indeed confirm the request, the email will be automatically forwarded. If they haven’t confirmed or haven’t been added to the list in the first place, an error will appear.
Please note that addresses verified for auto-forwarding will need to be verified again for manual forwarding (and vice versa).
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Sharing access to your Mailtrap inbox
In Mailtrap, you can create projects for each separate inbox.
You can keep all test emails in a single inbox or you can split them into multiple projects and inboxes. It’s especially useful when you’re working on several projects/functionalities and need to keep the test emails from each separate.
Whatever works best for you, you can share any particular inbox or a project with your collaborators (teammates, POs, clients – you pick). They’ll be able to see all the emails in a given inbox and inspect them with the same tools that you also have at your disposal.
You can do it in two ways – share access to an individual inbox or to an entire project.
To share a project, click on the first icon to the right of its name (Project Team Members).
On the next page, add an email address of a person you want to add and click on Send Invite. An invitation to collaborate will be sent to them. Until they accept, they’ll be shown as ‘pending’.
If you only want to share a particular inbox, not an entire project, you’ll need to head back to the previous screen. There, click on the inbox that you want to share and select the last tab called Team Members.
Insert the email address of your collaborator and an invitation will be sent to them.
As was the case before, an email address of your collaborator(s) will show up on the list below with the respective status (pending, user, or owner). This way you can monitor if your invitee set up an account already.
If at any point you grow unhappy with their presence in your inbox, you can remove their access from here as well (they can’t return the favor as the invited accounts will lack sufficient permissions).
Want to learn more? We’ve got collaborating on shared inboxes covered in another article.
Learn how exactly Mailtrap can help you streamline email testing processes from our case study with The Software House.
That’s all and as you could see, there was plenty to talk about. If you haven’t used auto/manual forwarding features for reporting purposes yet, they should make a significant difference for you right away. Try them out.
And don’t hesitate to share access to your inboxes with stakeholders. They’ll enjoy easy accountability and will be able to inspect emails on their own with hardly any hassle.
We also actively use Mailtrap on all our projects and keep adding more and more features. If you feel something is missing or just doesn’t solve your problem, please feel free to suggest an improvement on our suggestions forum. We’ll definitely look into it and may include it in one of the following releases.
Until next time!