Unleashing your email campaign to your target audience can be one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences for any email marketer. Do you get “The FEAR” before you hit send?

Is my ‘From’ email address recognisable? Is the subject line personalised and spell-checked? How about the email copy? Have I considered the pre-header? Are all the links working? Is the call-to-action clear, compelling and linked? Have I missed any typos or misspelt any words? More often than not, you spend so much time staring at your email campaign, you may miss the small details.


“There is no formula for the perfect email. Authentic, concise and honest messaging always works.”  – EmailOut 

In this article, we’ll cover the following email marketing campaign checklist sections – The:

  1. From Field
  2. Subject Line
  3. Preheader
  4. Body
  5. Footer
  6. Data
  7. Tech
  8. Test(s)
  9. Buy-In
  10. Timing
  11. Analysis

Ready to dive in?

Every email marketer knows an email campaign – or newsletter – should be double, even triple checked before letting it fly out to the subscribers’ inbox. As embarrassing as the occasional dodgy email can be when sent to just one person, it is nothing compared to the immeasurable anguish you will feel when you send an email campaign full of errors to your entire email list. The good news is there is a way for you to alleviate any fear of sending disastrous email campaigns as well as avoid making any mistakes. All you need is an email marketing campaign checklist

If you’ve made a spelling mistake in your blog post? Don’t fuss, it’s easily fixable – just update it.

There is a broken link or a typo in your Tweet or Facebook post? No worries. Delete it and post a new one.

But make a mistake in your email campaign? Oh, no. There’s no way to fix it.

The Best Email Marketing Campaign Checklist | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software

You are only human. Humans err. Some mistakes are easier to fix without them hurting your brand. With others, you may have no such luck. Email doesn’t have an ‘unsend’ button. Any mistakes made in your email campaign will be permanent. Since email has the highest ROI among digital channels, mistakes can be very, very costly.

While every business has its process of proofing their email campaigns before sending, sometimes little things slip through the cracks. With this email marketing campaign checklist, you will have EVERYTHING you need to ensure you nail every campaign, every time.

The From Field

Who is the email coming from? Your company? Yourself? Your pet porcupine?

Usually, people are more inclined to open emails coming from an actual person rather than a brand. Yet, since they’ve signed up for your email correspondence, your brand name popping in their inbox should be both expected and welcomed.

If you are wondering about the ’From Field’, this rule-of-thumb will help – 

Newsletter = your company’s name
Sales email = their account manager’s name (or a sales rep)
Company performance/news = the CMO or CEO (if recognised)

Pro tip 1: It makes the most sense to choose the person – or entity – your subscribers are expecting to receive content from. It’ll maximise your open, engagement and click-through rates. Different account managers for different clients? No problem, personalise the From Field with the recipient’s account managers name and a ‘fall-back’ of your company’s name.

The Subject Line

Writing an irresistible subject line makes all the difference between a successful email campaign and a mediocre one. Luckily, there’s a science behind what works, and if you need some inspiration, these 7 brilliant subject line examples will do the trick.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of subject lines, did you know that 69% of recipients report emails as SPAM solely based on the subject line? Moreover, 47% of recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.

Now, is your subject line personalised? Emails with personalised subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. So, boost your open rates with something personal for each recipient starting from their name, company or last order in the subject line.

Is the key information within the first 50 characters (recommended length) of your subject line? If not, you might want to re-think it or risk recipients just skipping right past your email. These 27 short, sharp, inbox-friendly ideas can help. Lastly, did you spell check your email subject line? You don’t want to embarrass yourself – and your brand – as Café Rouge did, do you?

The Best Email Marketing Campaign Checklist | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software

Or Victoria’s Secret…

The Best Email Marketing Campaign Checklist | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software

As funny as some recipients might find such subject line mistakes, you wouldn’t want to come across as unprofessional, flaky or inappropriate?

The Preheader

An email preheader (a.k.a preview text, snippet or Johnson Box – don’t ask why) is the line of text that shows under your email campaign’s subject line when displaying emails in different clients. Gmail and Yahoo!, for example, will place the preheader next to your subject line. Thus, you should consider your subject line and preheader joint at the hip. 

Now, ask yourself, do they make sense when put together? Are they repetitive?

To be honest, repeating your subject line in the preheader is seriously ineffective and, quite frankly, lazy. Don’t waste valuable space by just rehashing your subject line, your target audience can already see it. Rather, your preheader should build on the subject line, not parrot it. Yet, at the same time, you also need to be consistent. If the preheader goes off in a completely different direction to the subject line, recipients will get confused and far, far less likely to open your email campaign.

On the other hand, there is also the option of not using a preheader. In those instances, some email clients will take the alt text of the first image in your email campaign and use it instead. Therefore, if you have images (which you should to compliment your copy), make sure you’ve created relevant, descriptive alt text for each one. Otherwise, things could get weird.

Lastly, always spell check – everything.

The Body

1) Brand Voice

Let’s say you decided not to use your logo in an email campaign. Can your audience easily identify your brand as soon as they open the email? 

Defining your brand voice is crucial to set yourself as unique, memorable and authentically ‘you’ in the eyes of your subscribers. Yet, don’t go overboard. Make sure to use a brand voice they would want to listen to.

2) Personalisation

With the brand voice box ticked, your next step is to ensure you’ve used personalisation as much as possible. It’s not just about the subscribers first name, you know. 

Write your content as if you’re talking to a buddy. It’ll transform your email campaign into an engaging marketing piece confirming the email actually came from you – and not some automated bot – and create a conversation. It’s a two-way street. You cannot expect the subscribers to engage if you’re talking at them instead of to them.

3) Data field fallbacks

Next on your email marketing campaign checklist is to check the personalisation data field fallback. All that subscriber’s information you’ve been collecting for months, years, decades(?) is the key to successful personalisation. But, if you have missing subscriber data, do you have a fallback in place? 

For example, [FirstName]/”there” = Hi Dave/Hi there

or 

[Company]/”your company” = We hope NewCo is benefiting from…/We hope your company is benefiting from… You get the picture.

4) Email copy

Moving on to nailing your email copy. Have you proofread it? No. Do it – again and again, and again. Are there any typos or grammar errors? Does it flow effortlessly? If you’ve been “at it” for too long, get a second pair of eyes on it. Sometimes spotting your own mistakes can be tricky. Remember, always test for spelling, grammar, punctuation and overall readability.

Pro tip 2: Short, punchy and to-the-point sentences work best. You pretty much have about 5 to 8 seconds to engage your target audience, so hit’em hard and fast!

5) Headlines

Your next step on the email marketing campaign checklist is ensuring your headlines are consistent when it comes to their colour, font, size and, especially, linking them appropriately to the relevant landing pages.

6) Call-to-action (CTA)

Next is the call-to-action (CTA). Every single campaign you email out serves a purpose.

Without a prominent call-to-action, your target audience will have nothing to act on. Consequently, your email campaign will be reduced to nothing more than a piece of information. Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet, no call-to-action means not achieving the results and ROI you are aiming for. 

Therefore, every email campaign must have at least one hyperlinked call-to-action or a clickable CTA button. 

The questions you need to ask yourself when completing this part of your email campaign pre-flight check are – 

  • Is your call-to-action clear?
  • Is it compelling?
  • Have you chosen the optimal CTA placement?
  • Does the call-to-action create a sense of urgency
  • Are you giving the reader a reason to click NOW?
  • Is it offering benefits to the reader?
  • Is the CTA button colour appropriate?
  • The font – is it legible?
  • Is the CTA button linked?

Pro tip 3: If your call-to-action takes more than 6 seconds to read, it’s too long.

Pro tip 4: Personalisation does not only apply to the email copy and subject line. It also goes a long way with your call-to-action.

Pro tip 5: The average CTA button size is 36 pt. However, if you choose to go with bigger, make sure it will not overwhelm your copy and test the campaign to see how it’ll render on different devices (i.e. desktop, smartphone, tablet).

12 Call-To-Action Examples That Convert >>>

7) Imagery 

Images, GIFs, illustrations and cinemagraphs are all important visual elements of any email marketing campaign as they compliment the email copy. However, it goes beyond just dumping relevant images in your email campaign. These are the key questions you need to ask yourself when carrying out an email pre-flight check – 

  • Does EVERY image have the appropriate alt text relevant to the email campaign? Important: Remember, image alt text is crucial, especially for your top image, since it’s what email clients will use as a preheader – if you haven’t crafted one.
  • Are ALL images linked to the corresponding squeeze page, offer or blog post?
  • How is the load time? Is it acceptable at the recipients’ end? Or, do you need to optimise your imagery?
  • For GIFs: Adding motion to your email campaign is a brilliant idea. However, have you tested how GIFs will look in different email clients
  • What about your background image? Do you have a background colour fallback in place in case the recipients’ email client doesn’t accept background images?

8) Can’t Read Link?

If your email campaign is image-heavy (which you should avoid unless it’s vital) or you are worried about display/rendering issues in different email clients or you simply want to give your recipients the option to view your email in a web browser rather than the inbox, you most definitely need a “Can’t read link?” (a.k.a View In Browser). 

Just don’t hide it at the bottom of your email campaign. Instead, give it a prominent place at the top of the email – preferably the top-right corner. Ah, and make sure it works. 

9) Want New Subscribers?

Well, who doesn’t? 

Why don’t you add a way for people who were forwarded your awesome email campaign to join your troops too – i.e. sign up for your email list(s)? For example – 

Was this email forwarded to you? Do you want to get our valuable tips and tricks dropped straight to your inbox weekly/fortnightly/monthly? Our newsletter is just a click away.

The Best Email Marketing Campaign Checklist | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software

Important: Make sure your CTA button is linked to your newsletter opt-in form and that the link is working.

The Footer

Your email campaign’s footer is one of the most crucial elements of your email despite some email marketers overlooking it as unimportant. It serves three purposes – 

1) indicates the end of your message;
2) offers yet another place to reiterate your call-to-action; and,
3) keeps you compliant with email marketing legislation as it includes your company’s legal name, registered address and number. It’s a legal requirement in the UK, EU and several other countries.

Next step on your email marketing campaign checklist is the unsubscribe link. Do you have one in the footer? No. Are you trying to keep your recipients hostage? It’s mandatory to allow people to opt-out from your marketing correspondence.

Do make sure YOU do not unsubscribe yourself from your test emails though. 

Truth: I might’ve done it once or twice. Okay, it was more than that so I know what I’m talking about.

Moving on to your social sharing icons. Do they look pretty? Are they going where they are supposed to? Click them all to make sure.

Lastly, for this section at least, add some permission text reminding your recipient why you’re emailing them. For example – 

[FirstName], you requested our monthly newsletter on 09/02/2021 when you opened a FREE account. Thank you for joining the EmailOut Troops!

With professional email marketing software in your corner, you can easily add the permission text via a personalisation data field or dynamic content to ensure it is unique for every recipient.

Interesting fact: Hotmail’s P.S. I love you footer which linked to their homepage was exactly what transformed the company from a nobody to a million-dollar business in just 18 months. So, don’t underestimate the power of the email footer.

The Data

To create highly-personalised, relevant and compelling email campaigns, you need to know your subscribers. Moreover, you need to ensure your email list is regularly updated and cleaned.

With that in mind, have you uploaded the latest copy of your database including personalisation data fields – updating all existing fields? Regardless of how long it took you to build your email list, maintaining a healthy database with relevant subscriber information is key to successful personalisation. 

EmailOut’s recommendation is to carry out a spring clean of your email list every 6 months – at bare minimum. 

Next on the email marketing campaign checklist is consent. Do you have a qualified opt-in from ALL of your subscribers which is compliant with email marketing laws? If you are unsure, don’t taint your email list without obtaining a person’s explicit consent. This is crucial if you want to stay on the right side of email marketing laws and not be slammed with fines with many zeros. You don’t want to spam prospects, do you?

Furthermore, think about any extra sources of recipients that should be suppressed (i.e. sales/support teams’ suppression data) and make sure you keep your suppression list updated. 

After you’ve checked your database ensuring you have all the recent, up-to-date information on your subscribers, it’s time to make sure you are sending the right email campaign to the right people. Thus, make sure you have properly segmented your email list.

Personalisation is not a trend, it’s a marketing staple. It plays a key role in delivering relevant, beneficial and valuable content to your subscribers. So ask yourself, have you uploaded the correct data fields for personalisation? Do you have a suitable fallback option in case a subscriber’s info is not available – for example, Hi [FirstName]/Dave/there”?

The Tech

Is your email campaign struggling to get through?

There are two important checks for you to carry on – 

1) What is your sender score (0-100)? In the high 90’s? If that’s the case, congrats – that’s acceptable. If you want to check your sender score, this tool will help.

Pro tip 6: You can get your IP from the headers of your delivered test campaigns. However, keep in mind your ESP may send test emails from a different IP compared to LIVE sends – so make sure to test both.

2) Do a blacklist check. Additionally, check both your live sending IP address and the domain of your sending email address. You might get some surprising results. 

Remember, not all blacklists are born equal, being on ‘Bob’s Back-bedroom Blacklist’ is somewhat different to a SpamHaus listing. 

Any sender score below 90 or any blacklisting whatsoever and you should NOT send; don’t try to fix it yourself, call your ESP Support Team and they’ll get it sorted – if they don’t, get in touch with us and we will.

The Test(s)

Your email campaign is almost ready to be unleashed on your target audience. But, before you dazzle your subscribers with your awesome campaign, check a few more things and run some tests. For example – 

  • Is your email campaign optimised for mobile? With EmailOut, it always will be.
  • Did you run a design test? To make sure you are delivering a perfect experience to your subscribers, you need to ensure your campaign’s design is not only top-notch but also rendering correctly across different email clients and devices. EmailOut’s Design Test feature allows you to preview your email campaign in 70+ different email clients and mobile devices in seconds – and it’s free.
  • With your design now flawless, run a spam test. EmailOut offers this feature for free. With a simple mouse click, you will test your email campaign against 23 of the most valuable spam filters.
  • You have two slightly different versions of your email campaign copy and design, you need to test which one will perform best – cue, split testing (a.k.a A/B testing). Ah, don’t forget to test one variable at a time (i.e. subject line, different imagery or CTA design, etc. – do not test more than one thing at a time).
  • Are you done testing? Perfect, now all you need to do is create the plain text version. Don’t panic, you won’t have to go through the entire creation process, it should be a simple 1-click operation. However, do review the copy after its generated and optimise any formatting if required.

The Buy-In

Does your email campaign need to be signed off internally before sending? If approval is required, now that it’s been spam and design tested, now is the time to go get the manager’s stamp of approval.

Does your Sales Team know you’ve offered a 10% discount on product Y and that they may receive orders/enquiries? No? Make sure you’ve kept all the relevant teams in the loop before sending your email campaign.

The Timing

Timing is everything. Therefore, always send your newsletter or email campaign on the same day and at the same time if that’s when your subscribers are expecting to hear from you, don’t disappoint them.

If you don’t want to follow a certain sending schedule, check your reports and analytics to establish when you get the highest

  • Open rates – day/time?
  • Click-through rates (CTR) – day/time?
  • Orders – day/time?

Once you have the above data at hand, you can schedule your campaign to hit the highest of the most appropriate metric(s) which work for your audience.

Lastly, have you made sure your colleagues aren’t hitting the same recipients with another campaign at the same time? You don’t want to bombard them. Rather, play the subtle game.

The Analysis

Lastly, the final section on your email marketing campaign checklist – the email marketing KPIs.

Now that you’ve sent your email campaign to your target audience, make sure to check the metrics after the first 10 mins to ensure your campaign is sending successfully. You’ll want to make sure it is after all the hard work you’ve put into crafting and proofing it.

Afterwards, periodically check and review the results to establish what resonates best with your subscribers so that you can deliver more of what they want and less of what they don’t. Test. Tweak. Optimise. 

Lastly, make yourself a cup of coffee/tea or a refreshing G&T whilst basking in the high praise coming from your colleagues regarding your email marketing mastery. 

You’ve nailed it!

Final Thoughts

You’ve now run out of excuses for campaign underperformance – periodically re-read this campaign checklist so that you’ll not miss even the smallest of details.

Continually optimise, tweak, test and personalise – watch your future campaigns skyrocket, your open rates explode and your quarterly bonus balloon!

Are you ready to make sure every email campaign will be perfect?

Highly recommended further reading – 

1) Writing Marketing Emails 101
2) Email Design Trends 2021
3) How To Collect Emails For Email Marketing?
4) How To Improve Your Email Sender Reputation?

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