by Anna Wybieralska Sep 13, 2020

A good email campaign is just like a cake. It has a lot of ingredients, it’s full of flavour, but without a recipe, it can quickly go downhill.

Let me tell you, once you miss one element, the whole cake can be ruined. Just like email campaigns! Once you send an email it’s a done deal. You cannot go back and change anything or fix something you forgot. Sending email campaigns is nerve wracking, especially if you are building your brand reputation. The emails you send create an impression that can be hard to change. That’s why it’s so important to either memorize all the steps or have a checklist that will ensure your email campaigns are flawless. 

Now memorizing the process can get tedious and it’s still not guaranteed that the end result will be successful. That’s why we prepared a recipe that will make your email mixture rise to a perfectly executed campaign.

Now, keep in mind that this list is only a guideline. You can follow it religiously or you can use the list to create your very own order of operations for your next email campaign pre-send review. However, just as in cooking, if you want to make your own recipe, it’s best if you’ve had some practice.

Setting up your campaign

The first thing on our checklist that you need to do is to establish what you want to achieve by sending your email campaigns. Is it a promotional campaign, a newsletter, a new product or service launch? Figuring out what type of campaign you want to run and what goal it should achieve is the very first step you need to complete. If you don’t have a clear view you need to ask yourself these three questions:

  • What value does this campaign bring to my customers?
  • Am I sending this email to the right contacts?
  • Do I have permission to send this campaign?

Answering them is the basis of sending any successful email campaign. If you can’t answer them, or the replies don't satisfy you, maybe it’s best to reconsider sending the campaign altogether. Keep in mind that people like consistent content but they enjoy valuable content even more. 

Another thing you should consider an absolute necessity is segmenting your list. Without proper segmentation, your emails may reach someone who’s not interested in this type of content and ultimately cause them to unsubscribe. You want to segment your contacts in a smart way. The more precise segmentation, the better content you can deliver. This will result in people waiting for your emails, instead tossing them in the bin.

We mentioned segments, but lists are slightly different and usually a bit less specific than a segment. This, of course, is again a critical piece of the email campaign puzzle. Make sure you're sending to your current, relevant, good quality list of subscribers so you don't generate complaints or damage your domain or sender reputation.

The last thing you want to pay attention to is the subject line. Your subject line should be informative, yet catchy, but not deceptive. Keep it under 40 characters, and consider using emojis when appropriate. Plus, remember you get bonus space in the preheader or preview text where your reader gets a peek at the content of your message -make sure your text here is useful and appropriate.

Working on your email content

Moving on to the heart of your campaign - the content of the email. There are a couple of things you need to have on your checklist if you want your email campaigns to succeed.

One of the most basic ones is the text. Nowadays, people tend to read less and focus more on the visuals, however this doesn’t mean that you can take it easy. Your text should be error-free, easy to digest and written with the right tone. If you’re sending this email campaign to a younger audience, make sure that the content is appropriate. You wouldn’t send young relaxed adults the same thing that you would send to serious businessmen.

The age-old, yet massively important step of cleaning up your writing is to read your work aloud. This will help you hear mistakes that you may miss by just scanning. And twice as good, send your work to someone else to proofread a second time.

We mentioned visuals - they are important too! They are the first thing that your recipients will see once they open an email. Are your images rendering correctly? Are they taking forever to load in the Elastic Email editor or in your personal inbox? If so, you'll want to reduce your image size. People will quickly close an email that isn't loading correctly. Make sure your pictures are linked and have ALT text for anyone who doesn't set their email inbox to open images by default.

Finally, you will want to add some personalization. Trust me. That extra touch of seeing your name in an email, or seeing information that relates to the region or your shopping history is really nice. It makes you remember which company bothered to make you feel special. One of the ways to go about this is using merge fields - make sure the information you're merging is correct! 

Keep in mind you will NOT see merge fields working unless you send an actual campaign. A test email will not provide you an example for review - so send to a small safe list and review the results of your merge fields that way before you send out your actual larger campaign.

Don’t forget about the header and footer

This part of your email design can often be forgotten, but these elements definitely play a part and can provide a lot of added value to your message. 

Your header is basically the first impression, your logo, a navigation menu, color and bold text can capture your reader's attention right away and encourage them to check out the rest of the email. What about your footer? Have you included contact information or a link back to your website? The footer is a good home for links that forward your email, terms and policies and is also likely the place you'll include physical addresses and unsubscribe options, which are again something you absolutely should include in your emails.

Something else that you also should include is your socials, preferably on the very bottom of your email. Make sure your icons look good and that they link to correct websites to avoid any confusion. Of course, some businesses don’t use social channels but, especially for companies that have a more millennial approach, including your handles is a must.

Optimize to perfection

Your email needs to look great - no matter the device or inbox service the recipient is using. That’s why your campaign needs to be optimized. This means checking how it renders on multiple devices as well as optimizing it for dark modes. 

This part of this checklist is quite time consuming, as it requires you to first send test email campaigns, check them, adjust them accordingly, and then do it all over again until it works. Our responsive template editor will help ensure that your emails render beautifully on all screen sizes, but you'll want to double-check how your message looks on your phone and other phones. Send a test email to several different people in your office for feedback on how it looks.

Let them be critical. Does the email seem appealing? Would you be happy if you got this email? Just as it is with a cake, the email has to attract you. It needs to look good and have valuable content for people to want it.

Write down all the necessary details that you want to fix and get to work. Check if your CTA is attractive (and not spammy). Click on every link you included to see if they work correctly. Take your time with this one to make sure you haven’t missed anything that could cause some embarrassment among your contacts. Remember that your images should probably have links and ALT text associated with them as well to help encourage easy clicks and access to information for your readers.

Once you’re done with fixing up all the details, send yourself one more test. And just to be sure, send another one after that. Remember - testing is caring. You want your recipient to feel that you put some thought into the email they receive.

Ready, set, send!

Sometimes, after all this setup, you can end up with two or more versions of an email. This is a perfect opportunity to get some more insight into what your recipient wants. Use A/X testing to change certain details of the email and monitor how people react to it. With time, you will find the perfect format and style that gets your messages opened.

If you marked all above things in the checklist and your email campaign is ready, great! But this doesn’t mean it’s the end. You still need to do a couple of things before you can take a break. 

One of the most important things is to SPAM-check your email. First, make sure you mark it as "NOT SPAM" and then go back to your email and check it for spam markers. Here is a spam checklist just for that.

After this, you can set up timing for your campaign. There are a lot of myths that are circling around on which time is the best for sending emails. However, instead of blindly following them, you should check by yourself at what time your recipients open received emails and adjust your sending time accordingly. Depending on your audience, time zone, and even the weather, you'll want to optimize your send time for the best results.

Finally, after all that is done, you can go ahead and send your campaign! 

Don’t forget about this extra step!

You might think we’re done here. The cake is baked. After all the campaign is sent, the emails are tested and everything looks just the way you wanted it to look. Although it is the end for creating this specific campaign, you still have one more thing to do. 

You need to monitor your campaign results. See what worked and what didn’t to keep perfecting your email campaigns and improve your open and click through rates. Remember that it’s not that hard to send an email campaign, but it’s much harder to learn from it.

We know that your time is precious. So we’re not asking you to re-read this article every time you send a campaign (although with time you will get better at remembering the steps). We have for you a super simple checklist with all the necessary steps you need to take in order to have your email campaigns come out as perfect as a professionally-baked cake.

If you need help or have questions, contact our Customer Success Team - we want to make sure you have the best possible outcomes for your campaigns.

Anna Wybieralska

Anna is working as a Content Manager in Elastic Email. An email marketing enthusiast with a millennial approach. She's either writing, buying plants or avoiding social interactions.

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