Preflight Checklist: What to Do Before Hitting Send

Email marketing can be more cost-effective than other forms of outreach, but only if your email gets opened. There are so many details to keep in mind before you press send. Here’s what you need to consider to ensure your message gets delivered the way you intended.

The Fundamentals

● From Name: Will your “from” name be recognizable to your subscribers?

● Reply-to Email: Is your “reply-to” a valid email address?

● Subject Line: Is your subject line engaging? The subject line is where it all begins. Make it about your user. Make it intriguing. Is it between 30-50 characters? As always, check for typos.

● Pre-Header Line: Does the pre-header work with the subject line? Does it suggest an interesting payoff? Is it between 30-50 characters? (check for typos)

● Footer: Have you updated the information (copyright dates, etc), does the footer include your company’s physical address? Does the footer include the permission reminder? Does it let the recipient know why they are being sent the email? (check for typos)

● Social Icons: Are the icons linked to the correct social networks? Does your ESP enable you to add tracking tags? If so, use them! It makes analytics a lot clearer.

● Unsubscribe Link: Make sure to always include this link.

The Content

● Images: Are images setup to link? All images should have a link. The fact is, most people don’t want to read or don’t have time to so they often just click on images that seem relevant to their interests. Do the images have ALT text? Are they brand approved?

● Background Images: Background images are tough in email! Is there a default color? Are the background images brand approved? Have you incorporated fall-back code for Outlook? Test, test, test.

● Headlines: Do headlines/subheads link? Are they relevant to the user? (check for typos)

● Body Copy: Are there links in the copy? Add analytics labels for clearer analytics. (check for typos)

● CTA: Is there a link? Is the text clear about what you’re asking the recipient to do? (check for typos)

● Colors: Are the colors brand standard?

● Dynamic Content: Which elements are dynamic? Who sees the what content? Do you need a default element? Test, test, test! (check for typos)

● Personalization: Do you have a default setup? (check for typos)

The Lists

● Subscriber List: Are you using the correct list? The most up-to-date list? Does any part of the list need to be suppressed?

The Testing

Testing is so important. I mean, all of this is, but after all your hard work it would be painful to realize that some email clients just don’t display your email well.  

● Inbox Preview: Have you seen a test of this email? Have you completed a full test in all email clients? Some of the most widely used email clients are Outlook (web), Outlook (desktop), Gmail, Mac Mail, Yahoo Mail,

● Mobile: Did you develop for mobile? Open those emails on your mobile device and yes, while I think testing services like Litmus or Email on Acid are useful, they don’t always tell the whole story. The only way to truly be certain is to see an email for yourself and interact with it.

● A/B Testing: Is this an A/B tested campaign?

● Team Testing: Has everyone on the team seen it? Is it approved by all?

The Send

● Timing: Does this email go out immediately or scheduled for a specific time/date? Have you notified the team/sales/etc when this email will launch?

● Conflicts: Will this email go out the same time as any other email?

● Subscription List: Are you using the correct list? The most up-to-date list? Does any part of the list need to be suppressed? (repeat this)

After sending your email, you’ll want to track and analyze the results to see how it performed—and use that learning to inform your next campaign. In addition, be sure to have a follow-up program in place for consumers that engage.

Email marketing can maximize the value of your customers, but it has to get delivered first! Download our Preflight Email Checklist and use it as a guide before issuing your next campaign.

Kurt Dommermuth has spent over 20 years working in marketing including his current role as founder and lead programmer for Serious Email—providing a highly efficient tool for in-house agencies to create, manage and send seriously great HTML emails.

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