If you've ever sent a preview/test and wondered why your personalization didn't work, it likely wasn't sent to a list. Personalization works by pulling field information for a specific recipient to make the message unique. To send a traditional campaign preview, you only enter an email address. This means it has no list from which to pull personalization information. The best way to ensure you know exactly what your recipient will see is to create a test list for your previews.
You can create a test list two different ways: create from scratch or copy an existing list. If you have an existing recipient list with all the fields you'll be using for your personalization, the easiest way to create a test list is to use the Copy List option. You will have options to copy all of your data or to only copy fields and field names.
Create the Test List
Go to Lists. Use the blue folder icon to Copy this List.
Type a new name for your test list and select the option to Copy only the fields.
This method eliminates the need to go through the process of creating fields and naming them. From here, you can use the Add New Member button to add a few test email addresses. You can create fake information that will help you in testing your personalization.
The last thing to do here is to mark this list as an official test list. Doing this will display this list as an option when you send previews. Click on the List Settings tab. Close to the top, you'll see the option Test list. Set this to Yes and scroll down the page to click Save.
Send to the Test List
When you're inside your message and ready to test, click the Send a Test button below the content editor. On the popup, mark the check box next to your test list and then click Send Test.
If you entered information into your test list, then your received message will display how the personalization will appear to your recipients. This is a great way to ensure all fields are typed correctly and test default values.
Here's a tip: enter in a few email addresses on your list that have all the information you need and enter one or two that don't have it. This is a good way to test any gaps in your client data and make good use of the default value for personalization.
Feel free to ask support any questions!