13 things to check before you click 'send' on your next marketing email
Raise your hand if you've ever sent a marketing email, only to discover after clicking "send" that your email's call-to-action contained a broken link. What a waste, right? And let's not even talk about embarrassment ... How many of you were actually allowed to raise your hand now too 😉 ...
Yes, silly mistakes happen - more easily than you might think. After all, we may be savvy marketers, but we're still only human. So how can you prevent these silly mistakes from making their way into your email campaigns? Take advantage of the powerful test send! Most email service providers, give you the option to send a test email for review before sending the real email to your email contacts. So, if you are not using these test sends to review your email messages before they are sent, you are downright asking for the above scenario.
To avoid email marketing embarrassment - and the poor results that come with it - print out this checklist, pin it to your workspace, and consult it every time you review an email test piece.
13 things to look for in your email test sends
1) Broken links
The mishap we mentioned in our launch scenario is probably one of marketers' biggest nightmares. Especially if lead generation is the goal of an email send. That's why we stress the importance of checking that your links are working as the first item on this checklist. For example - actually click them. Every single one. Is the (correct) page loading? Are you getting a 404 error? Patch any broken links you find.
2) Forgotten links
Second to the dreaded broken link is the forgotten one. The most common (and unfortunate) case of a forgotten link is when you use an image as a call-to-action (CTA) button. Double check to make sure everything that should be linked is linked. This includes anchor text, CTAs, social media follow/share icons, and images.
3) Broken Social Media Sharing Buttons
While we're talking about social media buttons, let's look at how easy it is to forget about these little buggers. Hubsspot has a helpful guide published to make creating social buttons on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter stress-free. Be sure to check out this guide. And if you're a HubSpot customer, this email tool fortunately makes creating social media sharing buttons in email messages practically foolproof. Simply plug in the URL of the page you want your email recipients to share (whether it's a landing page, a blog post, or the HTML version of the email we'll discuss later in this post), and - POOF!
Whether you use HubSpot's email tool or another ESP, you should always try the social media sharing buttons in your test send as an additional check.
4) Spelling/grammatical errors
Spelling and grammar play an important role in marketing, whether you're creating an eBook, writing a blog post, or drafting your next email marketing message. Send your test email to the biggest grammar geek you have on your team to point out any mistakes, and always make sure to spell check!
If you need virtual help with this, we have a tip for you here 😏
5) Distorted images
What do your images look like? Are they stretched or squashed? Are they pixelated? Overwhelmingly large? If they don't render, have you remembered to assign alt text to them? Check to see if your images are displaying the way you want them to, and if not, adjust them accordingly.
6) Wobbly formatting
When you view the email in an inbox, make sure the formatting looks the way you intended. Is there a line drop to the next because you forgot to add an extra space? If you used bullets, are they displaying correctly? ( Hint: Some email clients can't handle HTML bullets, so it's best to just use asterisks (*) instead of round or square HTML bullets). If the bullets don't look good, fix these formatting issues before sending the email to your true list.
7) Colour problems
Is the font color you're using clear and easy to read, or do you have to strain your eyes because it's a weird shade? Do blocks of background color make it difficult to read the text you've overlaid? Also, keep in mind that while color blocks can add a pretty design element to your email, consider the following scenario: Let's say you decide to design your entire email - or just a section - with a dark gray background. To make the text readable, you've chosen white as the font color. Now what happens if your recipient's email client doesn't render that background color (yes, it can happen)? Invisible text!
Lesson: The visibility of your email copy should never depend on the background color of your email.
8) Subject line / sender name
Does it look like your email was sent by a human and not a robot? In other words, what abbreviation are you using for your sender name - your company name (robot) or the name of a person in your company (human). In fact, in a HubSpot A/B test where we compared a generic "HubSpot" sender name to the personal name of someone on the marketing team with our company name, we found that emails sent by a real person were more likely to be clicked than emails sent by just a company name. Another thing to watch out for is the length of the subject line. Does the subject line get cut off? Keep your subject lines as short as possible - a good rule of thumb is 50 characters or less. You want as much of it as possible to display in the email window (especially on mobile devices).
9) Functioning dynamic tags
If you use dynamic tags (e.g. [FIRSTNAME], etc.), make sure they work properly and pull in the right information. And if you use dynamic tags, make sure the list you use is clean. Only use tags that everyone on your list has information for. For example, if you try to put the recipient's Facebook username in your email, but the contacts on the list you're sending to never gave you that information, you're going to run into some problems.
10) Requirements fulfilled by the GDPR
You don't want this email to get you in legal trouble, do you? If you send commercial emails, you should comply with the requirements of the GDPR know and know how to comply with them. Specifically, any email you send must include your valid physical mailing address - yes, we're talking snail mail here. Also, check that you're not using misleading, deceptive, or fake information in your "from," "to," "reply-to," subject line, and routing information. In other words, make sure you can clearly identify who is sending the email, whether it is from a company or an individual. Make sure your email subject line clearly states what the email is about. Finally, in any email you send, you must also provide a clear and obvious way for recipients to unsubscribe from any email communication from you. So if your email doesn't include an unsubscribe link, you could be in big trouble. Remember that failure to comply with the GDPR, can result in heavy penalties for each and every email breach.
11) Option to view on the web
Does your email contain a link to its web-based counterpart? Many ESPs allow you to create a web-based version of your email. Include this link in your email broadcast. That way, if the images or something else doesn't display properly for them, your recipients can simply click on the web-based version and see exactly what you intended.
12) Simple text formatting
Generate plain text What does the plain text version of your email look like? Your email client should allow you to view the test email in both HTML and plain text formats. And yes, optimizing for both HTML and plain text is absolutely important. To make sure your email is optimized for plain text, look for the following in your test email: similar copy to the HTML version of the email, compelling email copy, shortened links (and only a few of them), all caps in headers, and bullets in plain text (e.g. asterisks *).
13) Accessibility across devices, browsers and email clients
The best way to understand how different browsers, email clients, and devices (mobile or desktop) interpret your emails is to see for yourself! To save yourself the trouble of testing every single email sent to every single option, test a few options once on the most popular devices, browsers, and email clients, and then create a template to use for every email you send with the winning version.