The Smart Email Marketer’s QA Checklist

So, you’ve built yourself a nice mailing list full of qualified leads with the use of an effective landing page and a free opt-in bait that your prospects really dig. You’ve got a killer marketing plan all laid out and all that’s left to do is to hit the “send” button on your email autoresponder of choice. You’re about to get the payoff for all your hard work and the copy you’ve loaded into the email that you’ll blast to your list will provide the coup de grace. Nothing can go wrong now and you will not be denied.

Or will you?

Sometimes, the smallest things that we overlook in the emails we send out can lead to disastrous results that we don’t deserve after all the effort and investments that we put into our campaigns. Yet, it’s a fact of life that some email marketers lose their jobs or run their own businesses to the ground when they make very simple errors that destroy an email campaign’s conversion rate. Over the years, I’ve seen this happen time and again, so I created a list of things that I have to double or triple-check before I send out my messages to people on my subscriber list.

Today, I want to share this checklist with you so that you never find yourself a miserable wreck over an email campaign botched by simple things that you could have easily corrected. Let’s go:

  • Humanize Your Sender Name – Avoid using generic sender names such as “admin,” “support,” or even the name of your company. Use a real human name that subconsciously tells people that the messages they’re receiving are composed by a real person and not some autoresponder. Tests consistently show that humanized and personalized emails are more likely to get opened, so put a name on it and get a higher degree of engagement.
  • Subject line length – Your email subject lines should be attention-grabbing and they should give the receiver an idea of what value awaits them inside. While that doesn’t sound too hard, you have to deliver a subject line that fulfills both requirements within 50 characters or less. If you exceed that mark, there’s a good chance that the subject line will get truncated and you won’t be able to make the impression that you want to give your subscribers.

A/B tests historically show that shorter, snappier and more direct subject lines get opened much more often than long ones. Brush up your copywriting skills and start optimizing those subjects for a higher degree of traction.

  • Subject line spam words – Certain words can trigger spam filters on different email clients and providers. If it can be helped, stay away from subject lines that use words like “free,” “cheap,” “sale,” and other terms that display an intent to promote. If you trigger spam filters, there’s a good chance that a lot of your messages won’t make it to the people you’re sending them to, depriving you of precious marketing opportunities.
  • Device, client and browser compatibility check – Make sure to test if your email can be viewed correctly on both computers and mobile devices. People are increasingly favoring tablets and mobile phones for checking their emails, so be sure to place some heavy emphasis in making sure they read your messages right. Test your email in all major browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari and (ugh) Internet Explorer. A huge chunk of the Web’s population like to view their emails using web-based clients. Finally, test your email on the most popular desktop email clients. Microsoft Outlook should be on top of your list, but don’t neglect names like Thunderbird and Apple Mail just to be sure.
  • Ensure accessibility and formatting of a plain text version – Some people set their email clients to block off HTML and images automatically unless exceptions are set. If your emails are in HTML and the message won’t show up right unless the code is allowed to load, your message is pretty much dead in the water. You can work around this by making your email’s plain text accessible when HTML isn’t allowed to load. Sure, your recipients won’t see your lovely CSS in this mode, but at least they’ll be able to read what you want to tell them. A web designer should be able to help you set your emails up so that they’re available both in simple characters and with HTML.
  • Email file size – Just like anything in the world of software, an email is a file and of course, it has a size. With that said, you’ll want to keep your email file sizes to a minimum because some email service providers and clients automatically block emails that are too big on the kilobyte counter. Work with the guys designing your emails and make sure images and CSS are all optimized for lower file sizes while maintaining high aesthetic quality.
  • Do a double-take of the design – Make sure that your fonts stand out well from the background and are clear enough for easy reading. Fonts with no serifs are usually better in minimizing eyestrain and keeping reader attention at high levels. Make sure that your images don’t get distorted in various email clients, resolution settings, browsers and devices. Finally, make sure that buttons and link colors are eye-catching enough to make your calls to action easier to spot and follow.
  • Make sure calls to action are clear and present –The point of sending out an email is to get your subscribers to perform an action. This can be a purchase, a visit to a page, a download, a registration for a webinar and so. Make sure that your email copy has a call to action that leads to a conversion goal achievement for you. Having a missing or confusing calls to action can renders your emails pointless and bereft of business value.
  • Check for broken links – Most email calls to action can be fulfilled with a simple click of a link or a button within the email. If the link is broken and it leads a recipient to a 404 Not Found error page, the user experience falls apart and the email is rendered useless. Make sure that the URLs you use in your links are correct and make it a point to durect users to a destination page that’s always up and running. Once an email is sent out to your subscriber list, you can’t take it back, so do everything you can to guarantee functional links at all times.
  • Unsubscribe button – Every member of your mailing list has the right to stop receiving your messages for whatever reason they might have. That’s fine: unsubscribes are a part of every email marketer’s life. As much as we value our prospects, we have to show them respect by giving them a convenient way out that they can easily find whenever they’re inclined to.

At the bottom of every email, provide an unsubscribe link or button. This not only saves you from anti-spam lawsuits, this also shows people that you’re running a legitimate, classy and smart online business that’s not out there to annoy people.

  • Company info – If you haven’t heard, American law now requires businesses that send out emails to include their company information with each message they send out. Don’t forget to have a section near the bottom of all your emails where your company’s physical address, phone number and other relevant information are posted.

Okay, that rounds up the list of things that you have to double-check before you send out your email to your full list or to one of its segments. Keep in mind that QA is as important as production work itself, and there’s no such thing as being too paranoid about quality.

And in case you were looking for more information on how to do amazing email marketing, check out the video I just prepared below:

Until then,

Andy “I’m All About Quality” Jenkins