The email marketing launch checklist: 8 things to double-check before hitting send

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There are moments in your professional life when panic overwhelms you—moments when you feel as if someone threw a cold blanket over your shoulder while whispering, “you are in big trouble.

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.

I can speak from experience as I’ve made more embarrassing mistakes than I’d like to recognize, especially when sending automated email campaigns to potential clients or link-building prospects.

One way to avoid going through that pain is to develop a checklist. Throughout history, professionals as distinct as pilots and surgeons have relied on checklists to increase job effectiveness, decrease stress, and streamline work processes. Thanks to the work of Atul Gawande, a surgeon and best-selling author of the book The Checklist Manifesto, the use of checklists to simplify complex processes has surged in popularity in recent years.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a simple email marketing checklist you can use next before you send out your next campaign and avoid any humiliating mistakes.

#1: Do you have an effective subject line?

Your email subject line is one of the most critical factors to increase your open rates, as crucial as headlines are for web copy and online ads. A recent survey done by Litmus and Fluent found 34% of respondents said the subject line was the factor that determined whether they would open an email or not.

litmus fluent email marketing open factors email marketing checklist

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.

#2: Are you sending your email to 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 an email to a list that’s already in an 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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#3: Did you choose the right 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:

  1. 10 a.m.
  2. 8 p.m.-midnight
  3. 2 p.m.
  4. 6 a.m.

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

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.

#4: Have you 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 {FNAME!” in an email, you know exactly what we’re talking about.)

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

#5: Is your copy 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—e.g., a campaign for new subscribers will have a different messaging than 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.
  • Persuasiveness: Review your copy to see if it entices the desired action. Does each sentence lead to the next one, and finally, to the CTA?
  • Usefulness: No one likes receiving irrelevant emails. Assuming you have picked the right audience, your email should be clearly useful to the reader. What is it that your email is trying to do for the subscriber? Does the copy make it clear that whatever it entices them to do helps them?
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#6: Does your copy have any 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 includes 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. Better yet, send a test email to your email address and read it as if it came from a stranger. 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.

#7: Are there any 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 sizeSuggestions 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.

email testing on different platforms and devices email checklist
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#8: Does your email contain anything that will 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.

Wrap up

Whenever you write an email, you want to put all your energies into crafting a reader-friendly, value-driven message. You shouldn’t worry whether your subscribers can read your email properly or whether you are violating the law.

The eight-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 gross mistakes.

Do you check your emails before sending your campaigns? If so, what do you check?

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About the author: Ivan Kreimer is a freelance content writer who creates educational content for SaaS businesses like Leadfeeder and Campaign Monitor. In his pastime, he likes to help people become freelance writers. Besides writing for smart people who read sites like Nutshell, Ivan has also written in sites like Entrepreneur, MarketingProfs, TheNextWeb, and many other influential websites.

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