As email marketers, we schedule thousands of emails every month. One of our clients, for example, has 96 million contacts in their database, so you can imagine how nerve-wracking sending an email can be.
You’ve likely come across emails containing typos, broken links and tokens, wrong images, or bad copy. Sometimes, it’s list segmentation that can lead to email fails like this:
Having an airtight quality assurance (QA) process is what enables success. Overwhelmingly, the benefits of ensuring flawless production far outweigh the alternative of having to send an apology for an email gone wrong. That is why here at DemandGen, we like to say that production is about finishing the work, and QA is about perfecting it.
Here is how to ensure your email quality assurance process is airtight:
1. Start with the basics. These are the things you’ll almost always be looking for, such as:
- Spelling/grammatical errors (pasting your content into Microsoft Word is great for this)
- Images display correctly
- No rendering issues are present
- Audience count is on point
- Campaign will function as desired
- Operational vs. non-operational (i.e. can users opt out of this type of communication)
2. Next, you’ll want to consider all stakeholder-specific requirements. Collaborate with your team on this in order to gain a deeper understanding of what is important to them, such as what they’re trying to achieve and what steps they want their audience to take next. Other considerations include ensuring design guidelines are followed and you’re targeting the appropriate audience (if you’re promoting a product, for example, have you excluded current product users from the target list?).
3. Develop a succinct checklist. Share it with the team to make sure they agree with what you’ve outlined. If they do, you’ve got a guide to ensure you’re doing everything by the book, every time. Whether it’s confirming your dynamic content is working correctly (refer to the “Hi unknown” image above), making sure you track all your hyperlinks, or adding custom tracking, creating an easy-to-follow checklist ensures nothing gets overlooked.
4. Know what is really easy to miss. Pay close attention to items such as:
- Incorrect and/or operators: Use the wrong one, and you could end up with a list much bigger or much smaller than you anticipated.
- Yes and no paths: In Eloqua, you can drag a decision step into a canvas; point it the wrong way and you’ll end up with the opposite of what you intended.
- Dynamic content logic: Going back to the “Hi unknown” example in the image above, make sure to account for blank fields or common placeholder text such as “unknown” and “null.”
- “Not” boxes: Similar to the and/or operators, if you use the Not box incorrectly you’ll send your email to the wrong audience.
5. Make the QA process a team sport. To many, QA is synonymous with pointing out mistakes, but if you’re doing it right your QA process should focus on enriching what is already positive. Leverage the collective knowledge of those around you and involve other teams when you have questions. That is how you’ll take something good and turn it into something truly exceptional that gets results.
6. Pretend you’re someone else. Having someone else QA your work is the best practice, but we don’t always have that luxury. If you’re on your own, dedicate your full attention when performing QA and walk yourself through the build process as if you’re explaining it to someone else. If you built the email on autopilot, this would be the time to switch gears to manual. Treating every project like a one-off will help you get out of your regular mindset routine.
In addition to the obvious benefits, QA helps enhance team collaboration and project ownership. It can spur innovation and cultivate a sense of pride when your team has exceeded your company’s high standard at the end.
Ultimately, investing time and effort into quality control is not only advisable but indispensable if you want a competitive edge in today’s oversaturated email marketing landscape.
Laura Slovesko is a Campaign Specialist with DemandGen. She draws on her passion for client success and her years of experience in marketing automation and web development to create best practices, provide top-notch campaign production and execution, and ensure quality outcomes.