8 Questions to Ask Before Hitting Send

Year after year, email marketing continues to be one of the most cost-effective marketing channels for small and medium businesses.

As marketers start to embrace the full potential of the medium, each email campaign becomes an opportunity to drive sales, establish brand loyalty and boost website traffic. However, each email campaign also generates about 30 seconds of paralysis-inducing fear: Did you make a mistake somewhere that will cause your email campaign to fail? 

To curb those fears and reduce the chances of email-induced anxiety, ask yourself these eight questions before hitting send: 

1. Who proofread the email, and how many times?

While seemingly obvious, it's important to check this one off the list first. Nothing says unprofessional like typos, egregious grammatical mistakes, broken personalization (think: "Hello, First_Name") and otherwise avoidable proofreading errors. Professionalism goes a long way toward establishing credibility with subscribers, and without credibility, an email is just another ad in the junk folder. Make sure your email is checked and rechecked by multiple people in order to prevent these easily avoidable "oh-no" moments.

2. How will readers view this email, and did we test for that?

The tools and services readers use to open emails are constantly shifting, and marketers must be informed as to the services their specific demographic are likely to use. Unfortunately, not all email clients were created equal - and that means testing your email on multiple email clients is essential to providing a consistent email across multiple platforms. Potentially more important, be sure to test your emails on mobile devices. Fifty-three percent of emails are opened on mobile, so a responsive email is critical to ensuring your message doesn't accidentally exclude roughly half of your subscribers.

3. Does the email beg to be opened?

Countless studies have been conducted on the best way to write a subject line. Overwhelmingly, the data says to be short and sweet, tell the readers what to expect inside the email and provide a hook that makes them want to read it. Unfortunately, so much attention is paid to the subject line that other first impression opportunities get overlooked. For example, use a real person in the name that appears as the sender in order to humanize your marketing. Additionally, take full advantage of the "pre-header", or the part of the email that shows up in the preview notifications readers get before deciding to open the full message. By default, many senders wind up with a pre-header made up of the first line of text - often the "click here to view the Web copy" line. Be conscious of this and use the pre-header as your email's elevator pitch.

4. Does the call to action incite conversion?

Ultimately, the call to action (CTA) is what your email is all about. Whether you want readers to read more on your blog, buy from your ecommerce site or contact you for more information, the CTA is what drives this engagement. As long as the desired next step is clear, creativity is key. "Buy Now" is standard, but "I Want One" draws attention and plays on the emotions of the reader. Test different phrasing, colors and positioning of your CTAs to optimize your email for conversions.

5. What is the goal of this email, and does the content support it?

A common mistake among email marketers that results in ineffective email campaigns is the tendency to lose focus. Emails that are too long, with too many key topics are a "jack of all trades, master of none" and wind up accomplishing little. Keep the email focused around one central objective, and use the entirety of the message to further that goal.

6. What language does the email speak?

No, this is not a trick question. The key here is to know your audience and be able to connect. If you're a local bar promoting happy hour to trendy 20-something professionals, an overly formal tone of voice will instantly signal a disconnect between your business and your target demographic. 

7. Is the email data-driven?

The beauty of email marketing is that everything is inherently trackable. Every click, every open, every spike in conversion percentages gives the marketer critical information about how to improve the campaign for next time. Using historical data to know what works and what doesn't ensures each email campaign learns from the past, and more efficiently accomplishes your objective in the future.

8. Did I meet the legal requirements?

No checklist of common email marketing mistakes would be complete without a reminder to act legally and ethically. While email marketing regulations vary depending on the country of origin, the CAN-SPAM act in the United States is often the most cited. In general, the law requires marketers to provide a functional (and visible) opt-out mechanism, accurately portray the sender and content represented within the email, and provide legitimate contact information for the advertiser (including phone number and mailing address). In addition to being legally required, these laws are all pretty good suggestions for how to act professionally and refrain from becoming an annoyance to your contacts.

With these eight questions asked and answered prior to hitting send, marketers can spend less time stressing out and more time thinking of the next great email marketing campaign. 

Author: Eric Krattenstein

Eric Krattenstein is the U.S. CMO for Mailify, a global email marketing app with over 30,000 users worldwide. Formerly the VP of Internet marketing for an digital agency in NYC, Eric has helped dozens of businesses over the last several years create and implement impactful digital marketing strategies.