Sending the perfect email is a daunting task with a long list of things to consider. Whilst the "undo" or "delete" sent email feature hasn't been invented yet we have the next best thing; a solid checklist from email guru Kevan Lee. Kevan writes about email for Send Smarter, a blog dedicated to sending better email. Weekly posts include email best practices, email galleries, new stats and research, and more.
Kevan has been generous enough to put together this week's guest blog post. Don't forget to head over to sendsmarter.co to discover more email gems.
Is there anything more daunting than that terrifying, paralyzing send button?
Once you blast your email to your legion of subscribers, there’s no going back. Typos exist for eternity. Broken links are forever broken. Nothing can save your email now, so your best bet is precautionary measures.
Before you send, run through a checklist.
There are a few essential i’s to dot and t’s to cross on every email that you send. Be sure to dot and cross them all with an email checklist that covers all the basics.
Download the Essential Email Checklist.
You likely have more on your plate than sending email, so I’ve kept the checklist brief. Longer, exhaustive options exist elsewhere for those with the luxury of time and resource. Email Monday’s checklist is particularly thorough.
The Essential Email Checklist covers the majority of minor flubs that can ruin a perfectly good email.
For the “why” of each checklist item, see the explanations below.
The Essential Email Checklist explained
- The correct subscriber list or segment is selected.
- The list or segment has the number of subscribers you expected.
- All dynamic content and personalization appears as it should.
The first two items act as checks and balances for making sure the right people are receiving your email. Sometimes the right subscriber list might not have all the latest subscribers. Sometimes the number of subscribers looks right but the list isn’t.
Dynamic content and personalization can carry a bigger impact when they are wrong than when they are right. Double check to make sure names and details go where they should, and have a graceful fallback in case a contact lacks the proper info.
- Your subject line drives subscribers to click.
- The first 45-50 characters of the subject line are impactful.
- The content of the email matches the subject line.
Subject lines are one of the best places to obsess over with your email. They might be the most important reason someone clicks to open what you’ve sent. The first two check boxes here make sure the subject line grabs your recipient’s attention. The third makes sure they don’t feel duped after they open.
- All default template content has been replaced with real content.
- The full text has been re-read, word for word, and contains no grammar, spelling, style, or accuracy errors.
- The from name and email address are recognizable to your recipients.
If I could highlight one thing from these three items, it would be to read the full text of your email word for word. Scanning won’t cut it.
(And technically, Item No. 3 should take care of itself if you have your email settings set up well. The from name and email address don’t need to change from email to email, unless it makes sense to do so.)
- All links are clickable and clearly appear as links
- Alt-text is used on all images
Clickable links are important for everyone. Alt-text is important for those who have images turned-off.
- All links in the email have been clicked, including images with links.
- The links go the intended pages.
- The email still functions and makes sense with images turned off.
- The email displays well on mobile devices and in different email clients.
Much like the re-reading of your email, link clicking also needs to be a thorough endeavor. Wouldn’t you know that the one link that doesn’t work will be the one link everyone clicks.
For those with a pay-to-send email plan, you might have a rendering tool at your disposal. For others, you can test your email by sending to different personal inboxes you have set up at free spots like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Test on phones and tablets, too.
- The email has an obvious, functioning unsubscribe link.
- A plain-text version of the email is made available.
- A link to view the email online is made available.
- Any necessary disclaimers and copyright information are in place.
- Subscribers have a way to contact you.
No. 1 is the law. The rest are best practice.
- The email is scheduled to send no sooner than 30 minutes after completing the checklist.
- The email send time has been carefully chosen to optimize opens.
Schedule your send so that the email has a chance to simmer and you have time to correct anything that suddenly rushes to mind. I have saved a litany of errors by waiting to send.
- Time has been set to review the results of the campaign.
Knowledge is power, so make sure you take time to study how each campaign did.