Monthly Archives: October 2019

Email Checklist – Save Your Sanity and Send with Confidence!

Email Checklist

Email Checklist

Everyone has done it. You send an important email, and something just doesn’t feel right. Now long gone, you instinctively open it to discover a silly typoo inthe subject line. Doh! And that’s just one of dozens of things that cango wrong.

When it comes to mass emailing, both your personal and brandreputations are on the line with every click of the send key. That’s whywe’ve put together this sanity-saving email checklist. Don’t let anembarrassing or potentially damaging email ruin your day!We’llassume you have already gone through the process of thinking throughyour email. That you know your target audience, the objective, and thekey points you want to get across. There are great articles out thereoutlining best practices for writing an effective email. Here, weaddress the mechanics of setting up and confidently delivering yourmessage.

Email Checklist Summary

We have designed our process for marketing automation systems, but much of it applies to any email that is important and will be widely distributed, regardless of where it originates. We divided our email checklist into sections that seem to flow well with our standard process, and they should be fairly universal. Also, there may be steps that don’t apply depending on what system you use, but most should.


  • Decide what your end goal is and be sure to usethe appropriate metrics to track its success.
  • Carefullyselect your targeted audience based on your desired outcomes. Keep inmind there can be multiple segments based on your desiredresults.
  • Define the type of email you want to use. Isit a single-use or part of a campaign? If the latter, sketch out yourcampaign and workflows first.
  • What layout will youselect? Engage your audience with an appropriate eye-catching layout,one that will entice click-through. Are your readerscompelled?

Content Preparation

  • Create the subject line. Arguably the mostimportant element of your email and it should be thoughtfullywritten.
  • Create strong preview messages, ones that willcompel the reader to open your email.Compose email copy thatconsists of clear and short sentences that are jargon-free. Make yourcontent easily digestible.
  • Compose your email in a wordprocessor first. Editing in MS-Word is far easier than in most emailsystems.
  • Finalize the layout by making sure all linksare clearly identifiable as links, your message is focused, and nounnecessary choices are presented. Lastly is your brand easilyrecognizable by the from name and email address?
  • Read! Read and re-read your email.  Proof your email content for any errors, such as spelling and grammar, and inaccurate information. As a rule of thumb, proofing your email from the bottom-up, at least once, will help you pinpoint any mistakes that might have been missed. Tools like Grammarly and Hemingway to improve the quality and readability.
  • When proofing your email, make surethe message relates to the target audience, is easy to read and clear,and will engage or persuade.
  • If you want to run acampaign that includes multiple emails, write the variations at the sametime.

Email Setup

  • When running a campaign with multiple pieces ofcontent, set that up first.
  • If you are driving readersto a landing page or form, create a unique form for trackingpurposes.
  • Set up the appropriate automated workflowsand notifications in your system.
  • Create preview text which is a subheading to your subject line that many email clients display.
  • Personalize your email with therecipient’s first name, if possible.
  • Select the “fromname” field which can be a company or personal name.
  • Enter the “from” and “reply-to” email addresses.
  • Type the content of your message into the email systemtemplate, or copy and paste (text only) from elsewhere.
  • Add images, links, landing page and call-to-action buttons asrequired.
  • Using the built-in tools and augmenting with HTML where needed, format your email as desired.


  • Make it easy for yourreader to interact with your email by adding a call-to-action buttongoing to a form, download, or landing page.
  • Addimages/graphics that will help support your written content and mainemail message.
  • Take into consideration subscribers withimages turned off – will they be able to make sense of the email and acton it?
  • Compare your email content and selected imagesso that they both work together to encourage the reader to act. Alwaysask yourself, do your images support the main message?
  • Use links as needed making sure they are clearly identifiableas links.
  • If applicable, make social sharing andconnecting easy by providing the relevant icons.

System Setup

  • At this point, you are now ready to create youremail campaign. You can now add your email to a specific campaign (ifsupported by the platform you will use.)
  • Give youremail a name that will help you find it later should you want to resendor clone it.
  • Is your email authentication in place? Besure this is done prior to launching your email. Automate workflows ifapplicable.
  • Review each template field and personalizeit wherever you can (with fallback for missing fields).
  • Ensure you have a recognizable “from” field. This will addvalidity to the recipient and reduce the risk of your email being seenas junk mail or even spam.
  • Ensure your “reply-to” fieldhas an email address – again, this will increase the validity of youremail.
  • Remember to remember your “text only” emailversion.  This too must be checked and verified for any errors.
  • You are ready to select your recipient list(s). Make listsbased on how contacts have interacted with your organization.  Do youhave donors? Volunteers? Employees? Separate lists can keep yourmessages to them on point.
  • This is also the perfecttime to exclude recipients, if applicable, from a particular email list.Remember your message must be applicable to therecipient!


  • Most email systems provide options for SEO. If youare using a landing page, optimize your URL name, keywords, tags, andimages.
  • Ensure your email is optimized for mobiledevices, such as smartphones and tablets.
  • Use yoursystem’s render testing feature to see how your email will appear onvarious email clients.
  • Test your forms, automatedworkflows, and notifications to make sure they work.


  • Prior to launching youremail it’s a great idea to send a test email to major email clients.This will allow for the opportunity to make any last-minutecorrections.
  • Never assume that your email will beviewed on one device – test your email on multiple devices ensuring therecipient will receive the desired layout.
  • Check onelast time for any possible errors such as spelling, grammar or any otherglaring mistakes. Thoroughly proof email one last time, this includesany links within your email.A second set of eyes can only assistwith this process.  Have someone else proof your email.
  • Are your images working? Test image loads and make sure youhave included “alt tags.”If applicable, test automation.
  • Check one last time that your email is purpose-driven, kind andthoughtful.
  • Exhale and hit “send!”


  • Are you familiar with privacy laws? Now is a goodtime to familiarize yourself if you are not. Respect CASL and otheremail legislation.
  • Overuse of anything can easilyderail your campaign – be careful with the use of sales buzzwords,unnecessary caps, bolding and exclamation points.
  • Ensure your email system inserts your corporate information,along with unsubscribe and opt-in options. Or, do it manually.
  • Ensure your email system has DKIM and SP records to increase deliverability, which should only be needed one time.
  • Make sure your email is not coming across as spam to junk filters or readers.
  • Set up a text version of your message and an HTML option as well to increase coverage.
  • Build your recipients list from individual contacts or otherlists. Take care with this and triple-check yourchoices.

Finally, the laststep!It’s time to double-check the checklist, hit send, andrelax!There are few things worse for a marketer, or anyone forthat matter, than sending a mass email you wish you could take back.Unfortunately, once you hit the enter key, the damage is done. We’vestarted using this email checklist ourselves and always find many thingsto fix or refine during the process. Like anything else, the more you doit, the more habitual it becomes. Hopefully, this can help you send moreimpactful emails and reduce some anxiety.