If there isn’t even the faintest hint of fear running through you before you hit the send button when you’re deploying an email marketing campaign then the chances are you’re probably in the wrong job.
There should be fear – you’re about to send out an email campaign (which hopefully forms a key part of your marketing strategy) to your database. Whether there’s 1,000 or 100,000 subscribers on it, you should want them to engage with the campaign, for it to reinforce the way they feel about your business and for them to enjoy your email so much they make a mental note to keep their eyes peeled for when the next one hits their inbox. But beyond that, you should care about these people and it’s when you care, you feel fear.
There’s a wider context to this fear too. Email marketing is a fantastic way of building brand loyalty and strong relationships with your subscribers, after all, every single person on your list has opted-in into it. They have given you their permission to contact them (and a whole bunch of them have even bought things from you already!). It’s really easy to lose sight of quite how powerful this is. The people on your email marketing list don’t just like you, they like you so much they’ve said: “Yes please! I want you to get messages from you straight to my inbox.”
This brings with it pressure to make sure you ‘get it right’ and send out a campaign that delivers for you and, more importantly, delivers for your subscribers.
The fear also exists because sometimes (in email marketing as in life) things don’t go to plan. Trust us, having been doing this since 2003 there’s not much we haven’t seen. Subject lines for a travel company offering cheap flights to a destination they don’t even fly to? You got it. Personalisation that doesn’t work or have a fallback? All the time. Sending an email to people who have unsubscribed? You better believe it.
Whatever it is, it’s important to realise these things happen. Sure, it might be a small error that can easily be fixed or even turned into a positive but, in the worst cases, it can also cause significant reputational damage to your business among the very people who have put their trust in you.
At Jarrang we send out over 50 million emails a year on behalf of our clients. That’s a lot of fear to deal with. So how do we do it? We follow a strict process when sending out emails, so if something does go wrong, we can identify how it happened and then put something in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Because our processes have evolved over the last 15 years, they are both thorough and robust. One of the most important is our sign off process. This is a series of checks that take place before an email is scheduled for a send. If you take anything away from the advice we give on how to send better email marketing campaigns, make it this: check your emails before you send them. It won’t make the fear go away (and, like we said earlier, if you care, it shouldn’t) but it will help you bulletproof the deployment of your email marketing campaigns.
You might not include as many checks as we do but as a starting point we’d suggest the following:
1. Check spelling and grammar.
Get the basics right first and make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors. One of the quickest ways to undermine the quality of your brand is to send an email to your subscribers that’s full of typos.
2. Check links are working.
Most email marketing software will include a link checker which you should use to make sure your links aren’t broken and they’re going to the right place. This being said, it does no harm to manually check the links yourself.
3. Check you’re sending it to the right data.
Email marketing is much more advanced than simple ‘batch and blast’ where you send the same email to your full database. The most successful email marketing campaigns are those which included a high level of targeting and personalisation. With this in mind, it’s important for you to make sure you’re sending the email to the right data set, whether that’s a separate list or a segment of your main database.
4. Check the subject line.
This is the first thing your subscribers are going to see. Of course it needs to be enticing and engaging but it also needs to be error free. Check it when you enter it in and check it again when you send yourself a test email to see how it looks in the email client.
Send test emails. Which brings us nicely to our next point: send yourself test emails. If you have multiple email addresses (for example a work email and a personal email), send it to both so you can see how the email looks and reads in different email clients, on desktop and on your mobile.
5. Check the email displays correctly across all email clients.
Your subscribers will open emails across many different apps, clients and devices. You want to make sure they get the best experience wherever they open your email. We use Litmus as our tool for checking all our emails and highly recommend it, especially if you send a lot of emails.
6. Check the time of send is right.
This is an easy one to overlook but make sure you’ve scheduled the email for the time and day you want it to go out. Engagement rates can vary significantly depending on these factors, so it’s important you find the optimal time for sending and then double check it. It’s also important to mention here that you should always schedule your emails and never just hit ‘send’. This gives you the opportunity to make any amendments should you think of them after scheduling.
7. Check the ‘From’ and ‘Reply to’ address.
Another basic one but an important one to get right. Along with the subject line, the ‘From’ name will be the first thing your subscriber sees, as a rule of thumb it’s best to set this to your business name but in certain cases you might want your email marketing campaigns to appear like they’ve been sent by a person in which case you’d include their name here. The ‘Reply to’ address is the email address your customers will be replying to. First off, make sure it’s right and secondly, make sure it’s an email that’s monitored so you can respond to any replies.
8. Check you have an unsubscribe link and it works.
Every email you send to your subscribers needs to include an unsubscribe link so people can remove themselves from your list if they want to. The best place to include this is in the footer where you should also include your company details including your address, phone number and registered company number where applicable.
9. If you’ve included any personalisation, check to make sure it works.
Finally, if you’re using any kind of personalisation or dynamic content in your email, check to make sure it’s working. This also includes checking to make sure the data you have for this is correct, for example if you’re using first name personalisation make sure you have your subscribers’ names and not just their initials.
As you can see, there’s a lot of things to check but the danger of not doing this means a significantly increased risk of things going wrong when you send your emails. It’s better to make these checks rather than send emails with errors to your subscribers.
If you have any questions or would like any further information about any of the points above please let us know, we’re always happy to help.