Before You Hit Send: A Quick Panic-Relieving Checklist for the Smart Email Marketer

Download our free 8-page Email Marketing whitepaper PLUS get a handy email checklist.

Understand the fundamentals you need to get started on your email campaign.

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Everyone who has done some online marketing has felt that sharp pang of terror and panic just before they send out an email campaign. (Even if you’re a full service email marketing agency!) Once you click that send button, your bulk email marketing campaign will go out to your targeted email marketing lists of hundreds or thousands of your potential clients, and if it doesn’t make the impression you’re hoping for, it could mean a real loss of revenue. It’s hard enough making sure that you’re making the right impression with your words, but there are plenty of little ways that an email can go south for other reasons – especially if you’re using rich HTML formatting. It’s worth taking the time to sit down, take a deep breath and make sure all your ducks are in a row before you click that button. Because once it’s gone…it’s gone.

You’ve put your heart and soul into putting together your email: here’s a quick checklist for you to run down before you send your baby out into the world.

  1. Is your subject line working?

    Make sure that the subject line of your email is short, simple and engaging without being too misleading. Look back at what subject lines have worked best for you in the past (Don’t know? See number 8 below and start tracking!).There’s no excuse for not testing email campaigns.

  2. Do all your links work?

    Send yourself a test version of the email, and click on absolutely everything that can be clicked on. A simple typo can lead to a broken link, and that may lead to lost and disappointed customers.

  3. Is all of your copy correct?

    Read through your email letter by letter. No, we’re not kidding. Make sure any phone numbers, email addresses or URLs are correct. Make sure your offer or main message is accurate. Make sure you included the right coupon code if you’re offering one.

  4. Will all your images load correctly?

    All your images should be hosted remotely, not included in the email, and you should make sure you’re using absolute urls to point to them. (“” not just “/image.jpg“)

  5. Does it look good in most email readers?

    Different email readers vary widely in how they display HTML emails. Being aware of some of these quirks will help you design your email, but it’s still worthwhile to run any new design through a series of tests. A service like Litmus can make those tests much easier.

  6. Will your email still be readable if images are turned off?

    Many email readers don’t load images by default, so you’ll need to make sure that your email doesn’t look empty at first glance. Every image that needs to convey information in your email should have alt text specified. Even if the image is purely decorative, specifying alt="" inside the <img /> tag is better than leaving it out entirely.

  7. Does your email include a plain text version?

    There are going to be people on your list who have a problem reading a richly formatted email, no matter how well it’s designed. Don’t leave those people out – if you’re using HTML, make sure to use a multi-part format, and include a plain-text version with all of the same content and links. Most Email Service Providers make this simple. (We use Emma)

  8. Are you tracking your success?

    Make sure you are set up to see how many people opened or clicked through your email. Beyond that, it’s important that you track what people clicked on, and where. Over time, this will help you make your emails more effective. If your email marketing service isn’t giving you all the data or reporting you need (and even if it is), use with Google Analytics or a similar analytics application and tag your links (Google offers a simple tool in their help section). You don’t know what the data will reveal until you have it, and you’ll never get it if you don’t start tracking now. This will help you evaluate (or create) your email marketing plan.

  9. Have you updated your mailing list?

    Before you hit send, make sure to add all of the new leads and customers you’ve gotten since your last campaign. You should expect to lose people from the list slowly due to bounces and opt-outs, so you need to work to make sure your active list grows constantly. Most Email Service Providers will let you just import your whole list, and get rid of duplicates and opt-outs for you. And it’s not a bad idea to split up your list into multiple targeted email marketing lists to address different groups of prospects.

  10. Will it pass through spam filters?

    Run your email through a testing system that tells you how likely it is to be flagged as spam before you send it – most good email marketing services provide one. Avoid emails that are all a single image with no text content, and look out for obvious spammy-looking subject lines, with words in uppercase accompanied by a pile of exclamation points.

  11. Does it comply with the CAN-SPAM act?

    The law requires that your marketing emails are not misleading, that they provide a real physical address where your company can be reached, and that they provide a free and simple way for people to opt-out of your list. Complying isn’t just a legal requirement, it also makes your customers more comfortable with your business, and makes you look more established. Read all the legal details on the FTC website.

  12. Is your call-to-action clear?

    Tell your readers exactly what action you want them to take when they get your email. Make sure that action is clear and prominent in your email, and as close to the top as possible. Your customers may get hundreds of emails in a week (or day!) – don’t expect that they’ll take the time to read yours all the way to the bottom. You’ve got a couple of seconds, if that, to get their attention and make them take action. Any email marketing web strategist will tell you, you’ve got to know what you want people to do, and you have to make it easy.

From automated email drip campaign, to triggered email marketing or enterprise email newsletter marketing, email marketing helps business – so take a breather before you send your next email, or sit down with your marketing agency (if you don’t have one, you can always hire us!) and make sure your emails are getting you and your business where you need to go.


9 Responses to “Before You Hit Send: A Quick Panic-Relieving Checklist for the Smart Email Marketer”

  1. 1 pt website design March 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    p.s. You’ve got a great template . Wherever did you get it?

  2. 2 gabrielblau March 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    We made it ourselves of course. Design is a bit part of our marketing practice. Gotta have the right design to get the right people.

  3. 3 Contessa Boryszewski April 22, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    My friend told me about your blog, so I thought I’d check it out. Very interesting reading, will be back for more!

  4. 4 Advertising Business Marketing July 1, 2010 at 3:55 am

    this is a great post i actually took some advice from this, thanks dude. i have saved this blog for any future posts 🙂

  5. 5 article marketing report July 1, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    I loved this article.

  1. 1 Email Marketing tips from a full service email marketing agency | Hiring the Internet Trackback on March 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm
  2. 2 Email Marketing | Mozilist Trackback on April 17, 2010 at 1:34 am
  3. 3 Marketing Service | Mozilist Trackback on April 17, 2010 at 2:00 am
  4. 4 fox news Trackback on November 22, 2017 at 2:56 am

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