Before You Hit Send: An Email Campaign Checklist

by | Nov 4, 2020

There’s nothing quite like the rush of dread you feel after you’ve sent an email with a glaring error. There’s no “un-send” button with email. 

Here at M&C, we send emails on behalf of our clients to millions of people every year. Millions. Whether an email is going out to a list of 1,000 or 500,000 subscribers, every email we build receives the same checklist treatment. Every email

I’ve adapted M&C’s email checklist to be generic, but each email platform and organization has its own specific processes and details. Take this guide and adapt it to your organization.  

Having comprehensive guidelines in place for your organization is important, whether you’re a team of one or twenty. 

Before you hit “send” on your next company email, review the email campaign checklist, available here in a handy pdf.

And, as always, if you have any questions, please email us.  

Email Build Checklist

Let’s start with the initial email build. Follow these steps before testing your email internally. 

  1. Determine the date and time your email will go out. Ensure the send time doesn’t conflict with other emails you’re sending.

  2. Check the subject line. If your subject line includes any personalization, test internally to ensure the personalization works.

  3. Check the preheader text. This is the preview text many people see after the subject line. I recommend reading Email on Acid’s 5 Preheader Text Ideas to Increase Your Email Effectiveness.

  4. Gather and organize all featured content like stories, photos and links.

  5. Link all images, headlines, buttons and appropriate text. This includes logos, social media links in the footer, unsubscribe links and header images.

  6. Proofread. Check for spelling, grammatical and informational errors. Read the content aloud. Look for odd phrasing.

  7. Ensure all links are tracked either using UTM tracking, Google Analytics or another image tracking tool.

  8. Send the email to yourself. Read every single sentence. Do your descriptions make sense

  9. Check all links work. Test the email to yourself and click on every single link. Yes, every link including your logo and social media links.

  10. Update the date. If your email includes dates­—like a monthly newsletter, ensure the date is for the month the email will deploy.

  11. See what your email looks like on other platforms. Most email-building websites include a few different previews however, services like Email on Acid will show you how your email looks on Android and iPhones, every version of Outlook, Yahoo and other email platforms. This is super important because some platforms (I’m talking about you, Outlook) will override formatting and can cause your email to look completely different than intended.

  12. Test the email to at least one other person internally. Bolded. Italicized. THIS IS IMPORTANT! You’ve built this email and now it needs a fresh pair of eyes on it. This person needs to read through the entirety of the email including the linked content, click on all the links, make sure there aren’t any grammatical errors and that everything makes sense. Bonus points if the person isn’t normally involved in the emails.


Final Email Checklist

At this point, your email has been routed internally. You’ve received revisions and made corrections. At least one other person other than yourself has read and proofed the email. Have I made this point clear? 

This final email checklist includes the most critical steps before hitting send. Do not skip these steps! Every email we send at M&C goes through this final email campaign checklist before we deploy it. 

  1. Send the test email to yourself again. Read every word, click every link and read everything you’re linking to especially if you’re linking to your organization’s content.

  2. Click on all the links. Make sure your links go to the proper pages and URLs.

  3. Check Google Analytics and link tracking parameters.

  4. Update the plain text version of your email. Read Emma’s article on why plain text matters.

  5. Check the preheader text again.

  6. Final check on the subject line.

  7. Verify all of these are correct: name of the email, subject, sender email address, reply to email address.

  8. Confirm your queries or email list. If you’ve segmented your audience, you want to ensure your email is going to the correct recipients. An example of segmentation is having a list for recurring donors and a separate one for dormant donors who haven’t donated in a year.

  9. Verify the date and time of when you’re sending the email. This is especially crucial if your email platform is set up in military time because you may send an email at 1 a.m. rather than 1 p.m. (not that I would know anything about that.)

  10. Notify your support teams or different departments when the email is deploying in case of increased calls or traffic to that department.

  11. Send the email or schedule the email for deployment.

  12. Check your analytics. Ensure the email has deployed at the correct time and date and that it went to the correct audience after the email has been sent. How did your email do?

Use this email campaign checklist to ensure each email you send has been thoroughly vetted and will have maximum impact.

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