How to QA Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Alexa Engelhart
By Alexa Engelhart

The art of email marketing is a difficult one to master. For something as simple and quick as a singular email, the complexity of the dynamics at play can often be overwhelming. One simple error can have all your recipients ignoring that new message in their inbox. But in the same vein, one simple change can have them clicking ‘open’ as fast as you’d open a text from someone you like.

Diligence plays a key role in the landing rate of your emails (and everything, for that matter). While one of the most difficult parts of drafting that perfect email involves the creative endeavor, your emails should never be unsuccessful because of errors. We don’t mean an error in your thesis as a whole, but structural errors within the email itself.

Thus we’ve created this extensive and simple email QA checklist to help ensure you’ve covered all your bases before clicking that send button. You shouldn’t ever have to experience failure for something explicitly in your control. If you’re looking for a great template to follow when monitoring the quality of your emails, look below.

Your List

This first action point is commonsensical. You may even roll your eyes at it. But it’s important that you check off on your recipient list before you send out thousands of emails to the wrong audience. If you’ve created segments, then are you sure the specific email is hitting the right target? You’d be surprised at how many marketers have accidently sent the right email to the wrong crowd. This is an obvious and easy mistake to avoid. But due to its simplicity, it’s often overlooked.

Segmentation Conditions

If you’ve worked with email marketing services before, then you know what we’re talking about. But if not: segments are a way of targeting certain audiences based off accumulative data. It’s basically a form of bracketing your audience by their interactions with your email.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Email Subject Lines

For example, you can create a segment filled with people that opened your email but didn’t subscribe to you. That would be a ‘two-condition’ segment. Make sure that your segmentation conditions are on par with your agenda. There’s nothing worse than trying to poach recipients that are already subscribed or sending an introductory email to those that have already received your offer.

Subject Lines

Subject lines are sincerely an art in themselves. They need to be concise and easy-to-read, yet creatively demonstrate your brand and invite people to engage. Do your due diligence on subject lines to improve your methodology. Make sure they’re not filled with spam words or in all caps. Stay ahead of your competition by doing your research and staying relevant to current times.

Preview Text

This is the text that follows the email before it’s been opened, hence the ‘preview.’ You’ve seen it before. An email comes through and right below the subject line there’s a half a sentence sneak peek. This text often directly affects ignore and open rates. Make sure you write something that’s going to compel your recipient to open, rather than deter them.

Never repeat the subject line or the recipient’s name. Remove your address or useless information. Make sure it makes sense, as there’s nothing worse than a broken sentence which neither compels someone nor is understood. Most importantly, never leave it empty.

Hyperlink Your Images!

Isn’t it often unattractive to stare at an email littered with hyperlinks? How much more modern and sophisticated does one or two engaging pictures (which subtly invite the recipient to click on them) appear on a short email? The entire point here is to guide your recipient to your web page. You might experience more success with a hyperlinked picture rather than a link which screams ‘I really want you to click on me.’

Make Sure They’re Formatted Correctly

I hope you know how awful it looks when an email comes through broken. Make sure there’s readability on both a mobile device and a computer. But to that point—readability—remember that the average reader is conditioned to scroll and skim your email rather than dissect all the text. Formatting plays a key role in how visually attractive and scrollable your email is.

Related: Best Practices for Email Marketing Split Testing

Do note here: it’s almost always a better choice to keep your formatting simple. Being that you only have a few seconds to convince your recipient the juice is worth the squeeze, you don’t want to overwhelm or confuse them. Short and sweet is the name of the game, the same as subject lines. Sometimes the most efficient way to do this is by using a professional rendering program.

Are Your Links Correct?

There was a company that once sent out nearly a million emails which all linked to a different website. How that happened, we’ll never know. But someone probably got fired. Since you’re going to add links into your email, please ensure that they’re going to the right place. If you want to direct someone to your sales page, make sure it’s not taking them to your blog and vice versa. This is a simple mistake that could have a colossal impact on your first impression.

Check For Typos

If you’re sending out emails, then your audience is literate. Nothing screams unprofessional more than a typo or a grammatical mistake. Not only is it unattractive but it invalidates your company’s discipline. Make sure you do a thorough and extensive check to ensure nothing is misspelled, there are no typos, and your grammar is flawless. You should have multiple eyes on this.

Use Split Testing

But use it correctly. If you’re someone that relies on A/B testing, then ensure the results you’re accumulating are accurate. Don’t call your tests early or forget to run them in weekly cycles (traffic is day-dependent). Don’t give up after the first test fails and especially learn about false positives. Be sure to understand not only how to conduct an A/B test, but all the statistical pitfalls that inhibit split testing successes.

Make Sure Your Header Image Is Hyperlinked

You don’t want to miss out on directing someone to your page. Seriously—nowadays pictures are often hyperlinked, which draws us to first click on them (and they’re easier to click) before anything else. If you have a header image that’s engaging, make sure it’s hyperlinked.

Then check your hyperlink to ensure you know exactly where you’re directly them. Some companies have experienced the most success based solely off recipients clicking on their header image. After all, that’s a great thing, as your header image is probably the face of your company.

Make Sure Your Dates/Conditions Are Correct

This goes back into what we said about typos and grammar. You don’t want instant invalidation because your promo is offering a huge discount on December 12th! Only for your recipient to find their way to your webpage, only to realize it’s actually on November 12th and 5% isn’t exactly huge to anyone’s standards.

Related: Why the One Key Email Metric You’re Ignoring is Derailing Your Campaigns

If this seems too on-the-nose for you, know that when drafting an email it’s often the simpler parts that are taken for granted. You might spend hours on end in formatting or aesthetics, only to browse over the dates inside the content because you’ve taken them for granted. Make sure it’s accurate. Don’t lose subscribers because of a careless mistake.

Make Sure Your Alt Text In Your Images Is Correct

Alt text is part of an images html code. It’s actually a description of the image itself, or a definition of its purpose. It’s especially important for the blind and visually impaired, as it’ll tell them the purpose of the image. Make sure whatever it says is specific to the image.

You can even add more of a punch if you want. If said image is supposed to take you to product x, then your alt text can read as ‘buy product x for $9.99 within the next two weeks!’ It’s up to you, but never leave it blank, and make sure it’s image-appropriate.

Include A Signature And Make Sure It’s Sexy

After a reader has scanned your email, their eyes will often drop to your signature. It’s often considered your last marketing opportunity, but a fantastic one. First off, make sure there’s only a couple ways to contact you. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience. Don’t make it an image.

Some emails have image-blockers, so if all your contact information is on there and this occurs, your recipient won’t know how to contact you. Lastly, be simple but snazzy, and incorporate your company’s personality into your sign off. This is your last chance to hook your audience. Make it count.

We are well aware of how hard it can be to run a successful email marketing campaign. But so long as you can stay on top of the variables that are in your direct control, you reduce the risk of failure. Use our QA checklist to dissect every facet of your email’s design, and hopefully it leads to a higher ‘open rate’ and more sales or viewers! Good luck!

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Alexa is a Content Marketing Strategist at Power Digital Marketing who works with a wide range of clients on web copy creation, landing page strategy, email marketing, and blogging efforts. She loves working hand-in-hand with other digital marketing channels and departments to get the best results for her clients!