Associate Director, Content Strategy
Wait! Don’t send that email just yet! I know your finger is just itching to click the launch button for your new email campaign. You’ve put in hours and hours of hard work developing a thoughtful email marketing plan. Your audiences and goals are defined. Your content and workflows are developed. Send frequency and triggers are set and you know what Key Performance Indicators ( KPIs) you will use to judge campaign success.
But just like any seasoned pilot eager to get his plane up in the air, you have a list of tasks to be performed prior to takeoff. Failure to carefully conduct your email preflight check can contribute to otherwise easily avoidable email accidents. All it takes is a few minutes to complete one final inspection of your emails. You’ll be glad you did!
Will your from name and reply-to address be instantly recognizable to your subscribers? Is your reply-to address defaulted to no-reply? If so, then you’re suggesting to your subscribers that communication between you and them is a one-way street, or even worse, that the email is spam. Instead, try to match your from name with your reply-to address and, if possible, use your main website’s domain.
Does your subject line support the content of your email? Be sure you don’t mislead your subscribers. Doing so runs the risk of losing their trust and prompting them to unsubscribe.
How well does your subject line read on a mobile device? Is it so long that the most important words get cut off? And don’t forget to double check for any spam trigger words or instances of all caps to avoid landing in the junk folder.
Have you set your preheader text? If you don’t assign your preheader text, email clients (aka Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.) will automatically pull a snippet from the first few lines in your email. You don’t want “View this email in web browser” or “Having trouble viewing this email?” to show up in the preview pane, do you?
And speaking of preview pane, is your preheader appearing correctly in the preview panes on various devices? Keep it short so it displays the whole message in the preview pane on mobile and doesn’t take up valuable real estate at the top of your email.
Avoid the silliest of all email mistakes and triple check your grammar and spelling. Consider sending test emails to colleagues, or even friends, and have them review with fresh eyes.
Other things to consider: Do you have a clear headline at the top of the email to capture the reader’s attention? Did you include your company logo somewhere in the email? What about your calls to action? Are they obvious? Do they include action-oriented words?
Graphics and photos are great in emails, but only if you can see them! Make sure all your images render correctly and none of them are broken.
You’ll also need to double check that you have alternative text (aka alt tags) set for all of your images? Some of your subscribers may not allow images to automatically download in their inbox. Their email client will instead display the image alt tag, so you need to make sure your alt tags are representative of your images. Choose relevant words and phrases to help communicate your message even if your images cannot.
Are your links easily identifiable and clearly labeled? They should also be highly relevant to the content of your email, with the most important links at the top. Also, make sure they are clickable and driving to the correct landing pages. Then confirm that those email clicks and page visits are being tracked accurately.
Are all your variable data fields pulling in the correct information? Nothing’s more awkward when you receive an email to <INSERT_FIRST_NAME>, am I right? Check your email database to make sure all your records have sufficient data for the selected personalization fields. Don’t forget to choose and set default values for those records missing info. For example, if some records are missing a first name, consider the default “Friend” or “Fellow Supporter.”
Do you have the proper identifying information to comply with CAN-SPAM regulations? Make sure you include your company name and valid physical postal address, as well as a clear and obvious way for subscribers to opt out.
Have you viewed your email on different devices (e.g., desktop, mobile, tablet)? What about in different email clients (e.g., Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.) and browsers (e.g., Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc.)? Take the time to thoroughly test your emails to make sure they are successfully arriving in the inbox instead of the junk folder and are displaying properly.
Roger. Checked. Ready for takeoff!
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