Unfortunately, mistakes in email happen. And chances are you’ve witnessed these mistakes first-hand or received an email with a misspelling, rendering issue, or botched subject line. Adding a streamlined process to your email marketing program is essential not only for staying organized, but for helping to prevent these mistakes from happening in the first place. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to look into fine tuning your current process or developing a new one so your best promotions and work are reaching the right people and portraying your brand how you want it to be seen – without mistakes.
The best way to begin thinking about your process is with a marketing calendar or, better yet, an email marketing calendar. Fourth quarter is prime email sending time and volume usually greatly increases. Sure, promotions or messaging can change from time to time, but having this outline is essential to ensuring that your have the resources ready and to handle holiday volumes.
One of the most important aspects of an email marketing program is communication. This certainly means internal communication, but it is equally important that you have a mechanism through which you can keep outside service providers on the same page, as well. Making sure the lines of communication are open and clear is a must. Utilizing a project management service like Basecamp or AtTask is a good choice as you can organize threads by email send and exchange assets and campaign specific information all in one place without possibly missing a revision or approval in your email inbox.
Setting a course
After you have developed a timeline and way to deliver email assets and communication it’s time to put together the actual details of the campaign.
At DEG, we strongly recommend a customized direction document that provides all instructions for the email send, from the email name and subject line all the way to image names and what they should link to. Having these details established at the outset limits delays as your team searches for missing pieces. Using this document for all email sends will also help cut down on build time as everything will be ready to go once it’s delivered. Develop a direction document that works best with both the person dictating the messaging and the one who actually implements the email. An effective direction document might also include a change log to be used to document desired revisions and their completion.
Check your work
So now the email is coded and complete. But before you hit send, Quality Assurance checks must be completed – no exceptions. Here at DEG, we mandate multiple rounds of rigorous quality assurance checks. A minimum of two sets of eyes should always review the email. These checks should include obvious items such as spell check, link validation, original asset comparison, but must also include rendering checks. Using an online tool like Litmus is ideal for ensuring your email appears the same across every email service provider. If we find even a minor discrepancy we can then add in different code to have emails display consistently in all of these providers.
Now that you have been completed QA checks and final approval has been given, it’s finally time to schedule the email send. This sounds straightforward, but once again we recommend that this step in the process be reviewed by a minimum of two people. This will help confirm the correct email is going to the desired subscriber list on the right day and at the right time. Having someone double check your work – especially when it comes to sending out an email to hundreds of thousands or millions of people – will give everyone peace of mind and ensure the campaign is a success.
The process of planning, executing, and deploying an email is just as important as the email campaign itself. In this last month leading up to holiday, it is imperative that your creation and send processes become well-defined. Implementing a process like those outlined above will help you hit that send button with confidence, not to mention to sleep a little better at night.