6 Things to Test Before Sending an Email

Six years ago, a large portion of my company’s database received an email with the subject line of, “TBD”. Of course, it was the CEO who pointed it out as I sauntered into the office that morning. Gulp. (Thank you for sparing me my job, by the way!)

From that day forward, not only do I get a knot in my stomach thinking about it, but I learned to be prettttyyy darn neurotic before I press “go” on an email blast.

Here’s a standard set of things I triple check (and then double check again for good measure):

1. Tokens
I’ve seen seem real forehead smackers when it comes to poorly done tokens:

  • A different font type and size, “Dear Vivi”
  • The wrong field pulled in, “Dear Richards”, “Dear ID02899SP00001”
  • A mistyped token that doesn’t populate, “Dear {{lead.fit.name}}”
  • And tokens with no default value, “Dear “

My fellow marketers, I know you know this…but the point of using tokens is to attempt to make the email look personal and make the recipient feel special. Not sure about you, but I don’t feel all that special when you call me by my last name in a different font than the rest of the email…

2. Links
This one should be super intuitive and a no-brainer, since I know you allllll send yourself test emails and click each link to make sure they’re correct…right? Thought so! For that teeny tiny percentage of you who don’t do this, it’s imperative, as it’s easy to paste the wrong link into the email builder, or have it open in the same window if you meant for it to open in a different window.

3. Subject Line
Rule #1 – Don’t send an email with subject line “TBD”. I promise it’s not pretty. But really, make sure you double-check the subject line. (Here’s a double whammy bonus – if you’re using tokens in the subject line, give it extra special attention).

4. Images
Who doesn’t love a shiny, flashy email? It’s all fine and dandy if you want to put together a pretty HTML email, but don’t forget to make it reader friendly if they have their images turned off. What that really means is make sure your images are just supplementing the body text of the email, and that the whole email isn’t a single image. Otherwise, anyone whose images are turned off won’t be able to see the content of your email.

5. Multiple Email Clients & Text Version
As I mentioned above, we’re all pretty hyper focused on the beauty that can be a well-designed HTML email. So since we’re so superficial and vain about how our emails look, it would be blasphemous not to see how they render in multiple different email clients. A tool like Litmus can help you determine whether your email is beauty-queen-worthy in all email clients or not.

In the same vein, it’s important to be cognizant of the text version of the email, too. Primarily, don’t forget to update it to match the copy of the HTML version. You’ll want to make sure to clean up any extra spacing and funky layouts that can occur when you copy from HTML to text.

Lastly, and this is a biggie…

6. Review.The.List.
This one is unrelated to the email asset itself. By now, I trust you have a thoroughly tested, eye-popping email without a single pixel out of place. But all that work can be for naught if you rush through the evaluation of the send list.

Please please please, with a cherry on top, please review your list before you send. If you’re sending a targeted email to a subset of your database (and if you’re not, we need to talk…) you should have a good sense of how many people are in each bucket of your database. If you’re using an email tool that allows you to pull a list of recipients dynamically based on field values and other attributes, I implore you to see what the total number of qualified records is before you press send.

If the numbers look wrong, check your rules to be sure that you didn’t invert an operator, use “and” instead of “or” (or vice versa), or miss a valuable detail.

Give the list a once over to make sure you have captured only the correct people and no one will get the email that shouldn’t. Or, even better, send the recipient list to the person who requested the email to be sent and have them look it over!

Most of these tips are pretty quick and should be part of your standard email send process. But the incremental time it will take you to adopt these measures will be well worth it when you catch an error you otherwise could have missed!

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At Digital Pi, we use technology to connect revenue to marketing efforts. We fuse marketing strategies, processes, data and applications to make marketing technology solutions work for clients' businesses.

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