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Your perfect pre-send email marketing checklist

11th Apr 2017
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Sending email can be a frightening thing. I don’t mean personal email, or even work email (though that can be pretty scary too): when you’re sending an important marketing message via email to hundreds or thousands of people, you want to make sure that every last detail is as great as it can be. For a marketer, the most nerve-racking part of the job is that moment before you click send; no matter how many times you proof, something can always slip through the net.

That’s why we’ve put our heads together and have come up with a checklist of details to iron out before you hit the send button. The checklist has five key ingredients: timing, campaign details, content, lists, and testing. Follow these steps and you’ll have no need to be anxious about email again.

Timing matters

Deciding the right time to send out your campaign is more nuanced than you think. If you’re part of a larger marketing team you’ll need to ensure that your send time doesn’t conflict with any other email blasts, or indeed any other major customer communications that might be happening at the same time. When thinking about the best time in the day to send make sure you consult your historical data, as it could give you valuable insight into when your customers are most receptive.

Once you’ve set a time, put it in the marketing calendar to ensure that your wider team has oversight of what’s going on. You can then work backwards to ensure that the content is all ready to go and there are no surprises on send day.

The devil’s in the detail

Once you’ve decided on when to send your campaign, it’s time to look at the details. This is where you need to take your time, and ideally have another person check as well, as some of these details can be quite tricky. To start with, check your subject line, header and footer for typos, and make sure your personalisation fields are working correctly.

Always include a physical address in the footer, and make sure your unsubscribe link is working properly - these are very important, as they are a legal requirement for marketing emails in many territories. Finally, update the permission reminder if required, and check that your social share buttons are working as intended, so that your recipients can help you spread the word!

Content? Covered.

There’s little point having a killer subject line if you haven’t given your email’s body copy some care and attention too. Alongside the standard checks for typos and readability - another set of eyes will really help here - you should also check that any images are correctly linked and have appropriate alt text.

It’s always worth checking your links multiple times: whether they’re on images, headlines or CTAs, your links back to your site are the most valuable parts of the email you’re sending, so it’s really important to ensure they’re working as intended.

If you’re delivering a more complex campaign, with personalisation and dynamic copy in the body of the email, it’s vital to do multiple tests as different user segments to ensure it works for each one. Make sure you’ve got a ‘fallback option’ for if your personalisation doesn’t work correctly.

Sense check your list

If you’re about to send out an email campaign to a long list of recipients, you should ideally already be on top of this, but it doesn’t hurt to get into the detail and really make sure you’re making your underlying data work for you.

Think about whether you need to suppress any recipients due to their feedback or website behaviour, and run some mock segments off your database to check that the contacts are being pulled as expected. Another big one that seems obvious is your contacts’ data fields: if you’re segmenting based on demographic or another variable, make sure that the necessary data is there in the list. If for some reason it isn’t, you might find out too late that all that effort to personalise was for nothing.

You guessed it: test, test, test!

If you’ve got this far, you’ve probably already done quite a few tests on your campaign, but you’re not done yet. Email will display differently depending on the email client your customer uses, and if you don’t test for these variations your emails might end up looking very strange. Hopefully your provider will have email client inbox testing - for desktop and mobile - so that you can predict how your email will display ahead of the final send.

If you have any unresolved questions from your team, they might be resolvable via A/B testing. A/B tests can generate really valuable insights for your email marketing, so it’s worth at this late stage to double check with the wider team that everyone is happy with the tests you’re doing, and that your hypotheses work for everyone.

These checkpoints might sound simple when you read about them, but when you’re engrossed in the busy day-to-day it can be easy to forget due process. Being methodical about it can pay dividends, and if you follow these key checks then you’ll be well on your way to vanquishing pre-send email fear and campaigning with confidence.

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