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The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist: 15 Things to Double-Check Before Hitting Send

When you open an email you sent to your marketing list and see something that’s glaringly wrong — an important link is broken, the merge fields aren’t working, you’ve misspelled your own company name in the subject line — you know you’re in one of those please-tell-me-this-isn’t-happening moments.

These accidents are common and can happen to anyone — but you can also reduce the chances of them happening by developing an email marketing checklist. Going through your checklist before launching an email campaign can increase your effectiveness, decrease stress, and streamline work processes. 

In this article, you’ll find the ultimate email marketing checklist to use before you send out your next campaign so you can make sure your email marketing campaigns are the most polished and effective they can be. Let’s get started!

Why use an email marketing checklist? 

Checking off to-dos on an email marketing checklist is a great way to set your emails up for success. 

Think about it: you wouldn’t start making a recipe without first seeing which ingredients and tools you’d need to get the job done. The same is true for sending marketing emails. By taking certain steps before you hit “send,” you help make sure your dish — the email you’re serving up to subscribers — turns out perfectly. 

It’s a strategy that’s helpful for any large, complicated task: break it up into smaller steps, and you’re less likely to forget something important. 

The ultimate email marketing checklist

When you’re creating an email marketing campaign, there are 15 major things to double-check before sending your emails out into the world. Let’s dive in! 

#1: Ensure your copy is persuasive

Your email’s copy is the heart of your email marketing campaign. You need to think of it as an ad — more personal and relatable, perhaps, but equally persuasive.

Review your email copy regarding its goal starting from your welcome emails— e.g., a campaign for new subscribers will have a different messaging than one sent to existing customers — and make the appropriate changes accordingly. 

Three aspects you want to look out for in your email copy are:

  • Clarity: Your copy should be clear. Delete any unnecessary words or sentences that distract the reader from the main message. Keep your paragraphs under three sentences to keep readers engaged.
  • Persuasiveness: Review your copy to see if it entices the desired action. Does each sentence lead to the next one and finally to the call to action (CTA)?
  • Usefulness: No one likes receiving irrelevant emails. Assuming you have picked the right audience, your email should be clearly useful to the reader. Does the copy make it clear that whatever it entices them to do helps them?

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#2: Check for spelling and grammar mistakes

Grammar rules everything around me. At least, it rules everything related to the content, and that includes email. Your email has to avoid any grammar mistakes, which include problems related to:

  • Clarity
  • Grammar usage
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Tone

Take a day off after you have written your email and re-read it from scratch. Do sentences flow naturally? Can you catch any glaring mistakes? Does the use of punctuation and capitalization follow your company’s style guide?

It’s common to find errors in test emails that you overlooked while drafting the email. Sometimes you just need to see the email in the right context — as a reader, not a writer. We also recommend asking other team members to read your email and give you suggestions. 

If you can afford it, consider hiring a professional proofreader or editor to provide another set of eyes on your emails. Alternatively, a cheaper and faster alternative is to use a grammar tool like Grammarly or ProWritingAid.

#3: Review your graphics and CTAs

Just like it’s important to make sure your copy is free of errors, it’s also a good idea to double-check any graphics and CTAs you use in your email. 

Visual elements are crucial for engaging your readers and can encourage them to keep scrolling through your email. Make sure any images and videos in your message are well-suited to your email’s goal and align with your company’s brand. 

Marketing email CTAs also tend to have a visual element to them, whether they’re colored differently than the rest of your email or include an image or GIF. Review any CTAs for brand consistency and determine how well they serve to advance your email’s goal. 

#4: Craft a friendly and effective subject line

Your email subject line is one of the most critical factors in increasing your open rates, as crucial as headlines are for web copy and online ads. An email’s subject line is one of the most important factors a reader considers when determining whether to open it or not.

nutshell-email-editor

Before sending your email, check whether your subject line meets the following criteria:

  • Length: Keep your subject lines within 50 characters.
  • Relevance: The subject line should connect with the email message. Does the subject line mention anything that relates to the email message?
  • Interest: The subject line should also stir interest in the recipient. Consider asking questions, using open statements (e.g., “You need to read this”), or emojis, which may increase your open rates.

#5: Add preview text

Your email’s preview text is the copy that shows up right next to or underneath your subject line. 

If you don’t add any preview text, your email provider is likely to pick up whichever words come first in the email — which can often be something as boring as, “Can’t see this email properly? View in a web browser.” 

Yawn. 

Preview text is important for your emails’ success because it can pique a recipient’s interest and motivate them to open your message. Take advantage of this space to communicate the value your email will provide the reader. Put your brand’s voice on full display and break out your most attention-grabbing copy.

Next on your email marketing checklist is to ensure every link you’ve included in the message works. Broken links lead to unsatisfied or frustrated recipients, which are less likely to complete the actions you want them to or engage with your emails in the future. 

All this to say — including broken links in your marketing emails can lead to poor campaign results and negatively impact your brand.

You could go through your email and manually click on each link or use a URL checker software to verify that all your links are working correctly. Some software can verify every link and button in your email so you can spend time completing other to-dos on your email marketing checklist.

You should also double-check that your unsubscribe link works. Unsubscribe links are required in commercial emails per the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Plus, it just makes good business sense to give people a choice about how and how often they hear from your company.

#7: Ensure you’re targeting the right audience

Your email marketing campaigns most likely target multiple segments and audiences separately. Therefore, before you send an email campaign, you want to check you are sending it to the right audience. 

To start, make sure you are using segments based on all available demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data. You can use this data to personalize your email campaigns (more on this later).

Also, your email copy should match the data used to create each segment. For example, an email campaign targeting existing customers can include brand-focused messages thanks to their familiarity with your brand, while one targeting recently signed subscribers should not do so.

Finally, check whether you are sending a list that’s already in an email automated sequence. If so, consider removing them from your message as they may end up receiving multiple emails with mixed messages.

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#8: Enable testing

Optimizing your marketing emails doesn’t stop once you send them out to recipients. Performing testing on your emails enables you to determine which approaches work better than others. Email testing offers a data-driven approach to crafting stronger campaigns in the future.

One important type of testing to enable is A/B testing. An A/B test lets you send emails with two variations to see which one gets the most clicks and engagement. A/B tests can be used to determine the effectiveness of:

  • Subject lines
  • CTAs
  • Email design
  • And more 

Typically, marketers only send A/B tests to a small percentage of their subscriber list and then send the most successful variation to the remainder of their recipients. That way, you know that what you’re sending has the best chance of success. 

The most important email campaign metrics to track with testing will vary based on your email’s goal — whether it’s to drive revenue or encourage webinar signups.

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#9: Determine the prime send time

Even if you use email marketing software that can detect your recipients’ time zones and deliver emails to them at the same local time, you still need to find the best hours and days that are most likely to contribute to high open rates. While you should test your messages to find the right hour for your email list, a meta-analysis from CoSchedule suggests the best times to send an email are:

  • 10 a.m.
  • 9 a.m.
  • 8 a.m.
  • 1 p.m.
  • 3 p.m.
best times to send emails

At the same time, the best days to send your emails seem to be between Thursday and Tuesday. 

best days to send emails

Regardless of the specific timing of your choice, what really matters is that you’re available to handle your subscribers’ replies soon after you receive them. Don’t schedule an important announcement email to go out at night or on the weekend if repliers won’t hear back from you in a timely fashion.

#10: Set up personalization correctly

There’s only so much you can do in an email blast to make it feel personal to individual recipients. Still, seeing your name or company’s name in a marketing email creates a personal connection.

The problem with personalization is that it requires a correct setup; lacking the data or inserting the dynamic field wrong will lead to embarrassing situations or even generate hostility. (If you’ve ever been greeted with “Hi {NAME!}” in an email, you know exactly what we’re talking about.)

When you analyze your email’s personalization, check for:

  • The existence of basic subscriber data: Make sure you have the proper data to use in your dynamic fields. First name, last name, and company name should be requirements for email signup forms, so that you can add these bits of personalization in marketing emails.
  • Correct formatting for merge tags/dynamic fields: If you wrote the dynamic fields yourself, make sure you wrote them correctly and fit within the email — i.e., check for spaces, commas, and other formatting issues that the dynamic field may cause.

#11: Avoid formatting and accessibility issues

Your email needs to prioritize content over fancy design. Most companies use minimalistic designs with few images and other design elements that distract the reader.

Review your email and check for any large issues regarding its formatting, including:

  • Contrast between elements: Does your content stand out from the background and between each section?
  • Font size: Suggestions range from 12 points up to 18 points.
  • Spaces between elements: Your margin and padding between the headlines and text should look coherent. Avoid any unnecessarily large spaces between your email elements.

Even if your email format looks good, your subscriber’s email clients, browsers, and devices may not properly render your emails. To find out about any accessibility issues, test your emails with a tool like Litmus or Mailtrap, and fix any problems that come up.

Source

#12: Check your content for any red flags that could get it marked as spam

If you’re sending any commercial email, you should be aware of and know how to comply with the requirements enforced by the CAN-SPAM Act, which establishes the rules all companies must comply with. 

The law mandates all commercial emails have to:

  • Include a valid physical mailing address.
  • Avoid using misleading, deceptive, or falsified information in its “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” subject line, and routing information. 
  • Indicate what the content of the email is about.
  • Include an unsubscribe button.

Failing to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act can lead to penalties of up to $16,000 for every email violation done. Email marketing software can add all of this information automatically, so make sure it’s included in your email.

We also highly recommend studying this list of spam trigger words that can get your email caught in spam filters.

#13: Send a test email

As we’ve touched on already, sending test emails is a great way to make sure you’ve checked all your boxes. By this point in your email marketing checklist, you may have sent a test email to a colleague to have them check for grammar and spelling, link performance, and more. 

Now, it’s time for your final test.

Send one last email to your manager or another coworker to verify that everything looks good. A second pair of eyes can help you catch any glaring mistakes and optimize the email for your readers. 

It’s a good idea to test what your email will look like in different inboxes and on mobile devices too since your readers will likely check their email in different ways.

#14: Set up automated responses

Before you hit “send,” set up automated responses to your email. Autoresponders can help you continue engaging with your recipients and send the right message at the right time. 

Automated responses are a good idea whether you’re sending emails at a time when you won’t be able to quickly respond or just want to remain at the top of your readers’ minds. And with the right tools, setting up these emails is simple. 

You can find many email marketing tools out there to help you create the perfect automated responses, schedule replies based on the criteria of your choice, and stop sending based on a recipient’s actions.

Automated personal email sequences in Nutshell

#15: Monitor your email campaign metrics

You’re ready to hit “send!” But don’t stop there — the final step in your email marketing checklist is to continue monitoring your campaign metrics. 

The tests you’ve designed for your emails are valuable sources of data about what works and what doesn’t and how to best engage with your recipients. Use that feedback to your advantage! Continue checking metrics like:

  • Click rate
  • Open rate 
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate

Dive deeper into why recipients reacted the way they did to your messages — then use that information to create even better email campaigns in the future. 

FAQs about email marketing checklists

Hungry for more about how to optimize your email marketing campaigns? This list of frequently asked questions may have the answers you’re looking for! 

How can I avoid spam filters? 

There are several steps you can take to ensure your emails steer clear of the spam filters:

  • Send emails from your own authenticated domain.
  • Keep spam complaints and email bounces low to maintain your reputation. 
  • Optimize your copy and avoid all caps, excessive exclamation marks, and other potentially spammy tactics.
  • Test before sending emails.
  • Regularly clean your subscriber lists.

Do I need to include share buttons in my emails? 

While it’s not necessary to include share buttons in your email campaigns, doing so can be really beneficial — especially if your company has an active presence on social media sites and other platforms. Including share buttons gives recipients the chance to interact with your content in multiple ways and can foster brand loyalty.

How long should marketing emails be? 

There isn’t a set length that all marketing emails should be, but shooting for around 200-300 words is a good best practice. Marketing email length depends on your audience, industry, and email goals. It’s also important to consider how your email’s design impacts a recipient’s impression of its length — huge walls of text might make it look too long and cause people to click out much faster than you want them to.

What things should every marketing email include?

Every marketing email should include the following elements:

  • A description of the value being offered
  • A clear CTA that tells readers what you want them to do
  • An attention-grabbing subject line
  • An unsubscribe button

Drive more sales with Nutshell Campaigns

The 15-point email marketing checklist shown here will help you focus on what’s most important to you — amazing your subscribers with your content — while preventing you from making any big mistakes.

Ready to take your email marketing campaigns to the next level? With Nutshell Campaigns, you can create beautiful, eye-catching emails and send them to customer or lead lists using your CRM contacts. Because Nutshell Campaigns is built into your CRM, your team can see the big picture of your relationships with customers — and easily target subscribers to turn them into buyers. 

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