You’ve segmented your email recipient lists, designed a flawless campaign, and tied the segmentation to that campaign. Now it’s time to press the big, scary button. The button of no return. The button of truth… Send.
Before sending a campaign, be sure to test your email. Testing verifies that the email’s appearance in the designer is the same, or as close as it can be, to its appearance in recipients’ inboxes. Send your email out to a variety of different email clients (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.) to see how it renders in each.
Testing is a great way to practice email delivery. Like attending Lamaze classes and timing the drive to the hospital, it’s a dry run of the real thing that gives you the insight into possible roadblocks.
To avoid those roadblocks, click every link. Twice. Then two more times. Test the following hyperlinks throughout your email body:
- Calls to action: All of them, including text, banners, and images. Make sure they open the correct landing page in a new tab. This way, viewers won’t have to navigate back to their inboxes.
- Social icons: You should have a bundle of social icons in the top right-hand corner of your email. Each icon linking back to your company’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Forward to a friend: You should include a link for recipients to forward your email to colleagues, friends, their Congressman, whomever.
- “Click here to download a web version of this email”: Occasionally and without warning, a recipient will not be able to view your email from their inbox. Provide a link to download the email, sitting proudly at the top if the body, just in case.
- “Email preferences”: Be careful with this one. Testing the unsubscribe link should take you to your “Manage your email preferences” page, but if you take it a step further and complete the form, you may actually opt out of your own emails.
Remember, it’s pretty much impossible to design an email that will look identical in every email client. To save yourself time and frustration meticulously editing row widths and pixel displays, choose five to 10 email clients that your company delivers to most often. Test your campaign in these clients and make any necessary tweaks as needed.
You might notices differences in fonts, image sizes, borders, and columns. Luckily, these can all be edited in a design program.
After you’ve tested, edited and perfected your email, it’s time to send. You should already have your designated date and time scheduled – don’t just send an email when it’s done. Pay attention to the statistics of past campaigns.
- What day of the week has the highest rates of engagement?
- What time on that day?
- Does that date and time work with your segmented recipient list?
See if your marketing automation software has throttles set up. Email throttles stop delivery of your message to anyone on your recipient list that has recently received another email. You should be able to specify how many days “recently” means to you, but best practice is to delay delivery to anyone you’ve contacted in the past two to four days.
You also have to consider time of delivery if this email is a part of a larger nurture campaign. For example, let’s say the message you’re sending is a follow up email to recipients who did not engage with a Lunch and Learn invitation. Deploying the follow up a day later might seem pushy and encourage recipients to unsubscribe from your list.
Best practice is to wait four to six business days after the initial email was delivered before sending a follow up. This gives recipients enough time to forget they ever even got the first one. Also be sure to create a new subject line, so the email seems fresh – even if the body content is the same.
Once you’ve said a prayer and pressed Send, you should see statistics start to flow into your marketing automation software. Pay attention to the percentage of recipients who opened your campaign and the percentage who clicked.
Remember, just because an email is opened, doesn’t mean the recipient engaged. An opened email only displays text and broken links. A clicked email is one where the images have been downloaded or, the even better option, the recipient has clicked a call to action and moved to a landing page.