The Email Marketing Ultimate “Before You Hit Send” Checklist

Everyone in business knows the cliché about doing your best proofreading after you hit send. It’s a universal pain point because, frankly, everyone who emails has realized some mistake or other mere seconds after the missive launches its way into the ether.

I always say that email marketing professionals have the worst job (stay with me here) because everything we do is so public. Any mistake has every nanny in the office — or, worse, every nanny on your client list — helpfully alerting you to the fact that a link is broken or someone misspelled ‘a lot’ or there’s a missing Oxford comma. Whereas a mistake in engineering code or balance sheet or sales call can go years without being detected — if it ever is.

So when there are mistakes — And there are! All the time! — don’t beat yourself or your staff up about email marketing of all things. Shrug it off, make a joke about it to your customers, punch yourself in the face in the bathroom and move on. Life’s too short to worry about typos.

That said, there’s still a process to follow before hitting send on any email that’s going to go to more folks than, well, your folks. This is particularly helpful when using automation platforms like Marketo, Eloqua and HubSpot. Read it, memorize it, have it tattooed on yourself. And just know that I, along with anyone else with more than two years in the email marketing trenches, have made every single one of these mistakes.

  1. Check subject line (including any testing splits)
  2. Check from name, title and email address (test email address if you’re using a false one)
  3. Check and test reply to address
  4. Make sure any images are correct and have good alt tags (the amount of time I see a major corporation put out something with “final_logo_version45_2013_USE_ME” makes me shudder).
  5. Make sure any image you put in links to where you want to direct readers (regardless of whether or not the link is explicit; do it anyway)
  6. Speaking of, test all your links (and if they’re headed to a landing page, give that a solid edit as well)
  7. Read your text 85 billion times (or  better yet, have someone read it who didn’t write it — perhaps your most ‘helpful’ critic?), check that all formatting is correct and consistent (e.g., titling and link colors, p.m. vs PM, etc.). If you’re relying solely on spellcheck to proofread things for you, immediately give notice.
  8. Check your dates, times, phone numbers and time zones (Hint: if you’re in a weird time zone like Mountain, but are marketing to people in the eastern or pacific zones, put it in their times. No one knows what MT is.)
  9. Check the text version — does it look decent? Is there anything weird going on?
  10. Check your list and make sure it’s going to the right people (especially important if you’re doing a winback campaign to churned customers, special offers to subsets, or anything that you wouldn’t want plastered on your homepage)

Next blog post, we’ll cover some good ways to make amends if you forgot to run through your email marketing checklist tattoo before hitting send. If you have any to share, hit me up at or comment below.

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