Taking the fear out of email marketing Published August 8, 2016 It doesn’t seem to matter how long you’ve been doing it for – putting together an email campaign and pressing send always makes your heart skip a beat. It’s the fear. The feeling that somehow, something has slipped through the net and your whole database is about to witness a gigantic mistake. The fear results in you logging-in multiple times, double-checking everything and then still worrying you’ve accidentally missed something. Did you send it to the right people? Did you schedule the campaign at the right time? Were there typos and mistakes? Does it look right on mobile? Do the links work? Did the personalisation work? With so many possibilities for errors, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to help take the panic out of sending a campaign. A process that will not only improve the efficiency of production but will also give you an extra safety net to catch mistakes. Spell check your brief and design Before you even create your email make sure the brief is rock solid. The brief you send to your designer will often contain the copy and calls-to-action which will end up featuring in what they send back to you. Perform a spell check on any wireframes and dummy copy before it leaves your inbox. All too often, mistakes in the original brief will make it into the final design, and end up being sent out. Even better, instead of using a spell-check, get someone else to proof-read your copy. It’s far too easy to miss mistakes that you’ve made yourself. Perform a test send Once the email is designed then send it to a list of internal contacts for checking before you send it out to your customers. These people should include trusted colleagues and key stakeholders to check they’re happy with how it looks, what it says and how it appears in the inbox. Always perform the test send well in advance of when you’re going to send it to your customers – ideally 24 hours before so people have time to see it and come back to you if they need to. Make sure you brief your colleagues that they’ll receive this test send and are expected to look at it before a specified time. If you don’t then it may create panic in the office if they do spot any errors. Create a sign-off form Once people receive your test send, ask a maximum of three key people to sign-it off. When we say sign-it off we really do mean sign – asking for people to sign-off an email physically with a signature or by sending an email confirming they’re happy, makes sure they really check. When people glance over an email without having to commit, mistakes still slip through. Performing a send with an internal list of people will also make sure you can test things such as personalisation – what appears in their inbox should be exactly how the customer will see it. A simple way to manage the sign-off process is to create a sheet which tells the people signing it off what they need to check for. Ask them to tick a box to make sure they’re happy with spelling, prices, subject line, how it appears in the inbox and how links work. Make it clear that the sign-off process is to check links, spot typos and the set-up – not a time to suggests non-essential changes which include design or copy. Check how it appears on devices and platforms Most email service providers will give you the ability to check how your proposed email looks across a variety of platforms from iPhone and Android to tablets and desktop. Although this is a great tool it’s always good practice to check using these devices when you perform a test send. Make sure someone is actually checking the email on their phone or tablet. As well as checking how it appears on different platforms, it’s always good to include a mix of different types of email addresses in a test send. Different email providers will display or ‘render’ the email in different ways and it’s always worth checking. If recipients are checking the email on providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and Outlook then hopefully you won’t get any nasty surprises when it comes to sending the email out for real. Never forget the subject line It often gets forgotten, but the subject line is the first thing the recipient will notice in a live send. Check the spelling, length and personalisation if you’re using it. Again, check this across devices during the test send and sign-off process. Always check you can see as much of the subject line as possible on mobile. The general rule of thumb is that mobile shows around 40 characters including spaces. Make sure your subject line makes sense – even if it has been cut off! Always spam check Before you press send make sure you spam check your email. Most email service providers give you a handy spam check tool which goes through your intended email and flags-up any possible spam threats. Sometimes innocent words can still get you caught in the spam filters if spammers are currently using them to capture attention. Eyeball your data and set-up Always check your data count when you upload a list onto your email marketing platform. Check that the final count is what you’d expect. If you’ve accidentally uploaded another list then the chances are that you’ll spot it as the count will be different. This avoids embarrassing errors of sending it to the wrong people. If you’re the person setting up the send then ask someone to double check your set-up – the scheduling and targeting. It’s easy for errors to be missed after you’ve been working on a campaign for a while or setting-up multiple sends. Use a seed list Once you’re happy that you’ve checked your campaign and you’re ready to send then include a ‘seed list’ when you send it. A ‘seed list’ is a list of internal contacts including yourself who will receive the email as well as the customers. A seed list should be bigger than a test send list – it should include people within your company who have a vested interest in receiving the email. It could include people such as your customer service team who may get phone calls or emails regarding the email – they’ll want to be able to see what the customer has seen so they can talk knowledgeably about whatever content is included within the email. By including a seed list you’ll also know if the campaign went out on time. If you’re included in the seed list then you or your colleagues will be alerted to any mistakes as you’ll receive what the customer receives. It’s better to know sooner rather than later about mistakes so you can take swift action if needed! If you’ve followed the steps above then the likelihood of mistakes being made is low. If you’ve got a clear process in place aimed at preventing and capturing errors then you’ve done all you can. If the worst happens then apologise, learn for next time and don’t be too hard on yourself – we’re all human.