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 in the subject line. Doh! And that’s just one of dozens of things that can go wrong. When it comes to mass emailing, both your personal and brand reputations are on the line with every click of the send key. That’s why we’ve put together this sanity-saving email checklist. Don’t let an embarrassing or potentially damaging email ruin your day!
We’ll assume you have already gone through the process of thinking through your email. That you know your target audience, the objective, and the key points you want to get across. There are great articles out there outlining best practices for writing an effective email. Here, we address the mechanics of setting up and confidently delivering your message.
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.
- Define the type of email. Is it a single-use or part of a campaign? If the latter, sketch out your campaign and workflows first.
- If you want to run a campaign that includes multiple emails, write the variations at the same time.
- Compose your email in a word processor first. Editing in MS-Word is far easier than in most email systems.
- Proof your email. Make sure the message: relates to the target audience, is easy to read and clear, and will engage or persuade.
- Check spelling and grammar using tools like Grammarly and Hemingway to improve the quality and readability.
- When running a campaign with multiple pieces of content, set that up first.
- If you are driving readers to a landing page or form, create a unique form for tracking purposes.
- Set up the appropriate automated workflows and notifications in your system.
- Create the subject line. Arguably the most important element of your email and should be thoughtfully written.
- Create preview text which is a subheading to your subject line that many email clients display.
- Personalize your email with the recipient’s first name if possible.
- Select the “from name” 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 system template, or copy and paste (text only) from elsewhere.
- Add images, links, landing page and call-to-action buttons as required.
- Using the built-in tools, and augmenting with HTML where needed, format your email as desired.
- Most email systems provide options for SEO. If you are using a landing page, optimize your URL name, keywords, tags, and images.
- Use your system’s render testing feature to see how your email will appear on various email clients.
- Test your forms, automated workflows, and notifications to make sure they work.
- Proof your email and make any final edits that are needed. Personally, I like to print mine just to see it in a different medium.
- Have someone you consider a good writer proof your email. If need be, also engage others to take one last look.
- Send your email to yourself using several different email clients so you see the real-life rendering and the final layout.
- Ensure your email system has DKIM and SP records to increase deliverability. (this is only needed once)
- Respect CASL and other email legislation and use common courtesy.
- Make sure your email is not coming across as spam to junk filters or readers.
- Ensure your email system inserts your corporate information, and unsubscribe options. Or, do it manually.
- 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 other lists. Take care with this and triple-check your choices.
Finally, the last step!
It’s time to double-check the checklist, hit send, and relax!
There are few things worse for a marketer, or anyone for that matter, than sending a mass email you wish you could take back. Unfortunately, once you hit the enter key, the damage is done. We’ve started using this email checklist ourselves and always find many things to fix or refine during the process. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more habitual it becomes. Hopefully, this can help you send more impactful emails and reduce some anxiety.
Randy Fougere | Founder and President I have helped companies grow faster for more than 25 years. With deep expertise in marketing, sales and leadership, I started Think2Grow to help mid-sized B2B clients accelerate sales with thoughtful, results-driven marketing services and programs.