Nobody’s perfect. But when it comes to email marketing, having an effective quality assurance (QA) process in place is one of the most important ways to help ensure the production of flawless email campaigns. Check out these email QA insights and tips to help you avoid making mistakes and having to send the dreaded apology or “oops” email.
How email marketers handle QA is one of the areas Litmus covered in its 2017 State of Email Workflows report, which included the responses from more than 3,500 email professionals. Here are some highlights and insights garnered from the survey results:
Is a Pre-Send Email QA Checklist Part of Your Email QA Process?
Marketers with successful email programs are more than twice as likely to use an “extensive” pre-send email QA checklist as part of their QA process compared to those with less successful email programs. Here are the survey results of companies when asked if they run through a pre-send checklist before sending every email:
- 23.3% of respondents said that they use an extensive checklist
- 48.7% of respondents said that they use a short checklist
- 28.0% of respondents said that they don’t have a checklist.
Do You Preview Test Every Email You Send?
Marketers of successful email-marketing programs are also more likely to preview test every email they send. Here are the survey results when marketers were asked how frequently they test the functionality and rendering of emails across devices and email clients before they send them:
- 61.2% test every email they send
- 18.5% occasionally test the emails they send
- 18.1% test only new or updated templates
- 2.2% don’t test their emails or templates.
In addition, when asked on which email clients that companies typically focus for testing:
- 58.3% of respondents focus on the most popular email clients (e.g., native iPhone and Android email clients, and Outlook)
- 21.4% know the email clients most frequently used by subscribers and focus on those
- 20.4% said that they want their emails to render and function well in all email clients.
Is Your Email Approval Process Too Easy, Too Difficult, Or Just Right?
According to the Litmus report, the number of people involved in the email approval process, as well as the frequency of changes that happen at the last minute, are the most important factors impacting the success of an email approval process. If only 1 person is involved in approving emails, for example, the QA process is likely too lax. So, what’s the perfect number? Having 2 or 3 people sign off on an email seems to be the “sweet spot.” In addition, the involvement of high-level executives in the email approval tends to make the process more cumbersome.
When asked how many people typically approve an email before it’s sent, of the survey respondents:
- 8.3% reported 1
- 30.8% reported 2
- 32.2% reported 3
- 14.0% reported 4
- 6.1% reported 5
- 8.6% reported 6+
As one might expect, larger companies (with more than 500 employees) tended to have more people involved in the approval process. On average, however, marketers need the approval of 3 people before sending an email.
In addition to the number of people involved in approving emails, when and how often your company makes last-minute changes is an indicator if an approval process is out of balance.
The Litmus survey asked email professionals how often last-minute changes are needed once an email is approved by every person involved. Of the survey respondents:
- 2.4% said never
- 24.7% said rarely
- 39.2% said sometimes
- 24.5% said often
- 9.2% said always
Survey participants were also asked when the final approval for an email send typically takes place:
- 36.3% of respondents said the same day as the email send
- 40.3% said 1 day before the email send
- 11.8% said 2 days before the email send
- 4.4% said 3 days before the email send
- 6.9% said 4 or more days before the email send.
Whereas 62.6% of the survey respondents feel that their email approval process is just right as-is, 15.8% feel that theirs is too lax and 21.6% feel that theirs is too burdensome.
Best Practices for an Effective Email QA Process
Are you doing all that you can in terms of QA to ensure email-marketing success? Here are 3 top tips for sending quality emails:
- Develop a concise email pre-send checklist for your specific workflow. For example, some of the key items on the list would include:
- Preview your inbox view (i.e., subject line, sender address, and preheader) on various devices and email clients
- Ensure that your email loads quickly
- Review rendering on all major email clients—desktop and mobile (leverage tools such as Litmus and Email on Acid plus do your own testing)
- Check that the dynamic content and personalization components are working properly
- Label all images with alternative text
- Test all links
- Be sure that all CAN-SPAM requirements are met (most importantly, ensure that you have a functioning unsubscribe link)
- If your email is being triggered externally or within a journey (e.g., shopping-cart abandonment, post-purchase), test every step to ensure that the emails are deploying as intended.
Using a team-approved checklist every time will help prevent anything from being overlooked prior to sending the email.
- Have more than 1 person responsible for proofreading emails. Spelling and grammatical errors can be easily missed, no matter how many times you proofread an email. That’s why it’s so important to have 2 or 3 people review each email. Pasting your email copy into Microsoft Word is also a great way to help catch mistakes. In addition, don’t wait until the very last step of your workflow to get proofreaders involved. Instead, have the initial copy reviewed, for example, then, after it’s been incorporated into the email design, conduct a final review of the email just before sending.
- Check every email before you hit Send. Your quality control should extend beyond new emails created and include all templates—even pre-existing templates that have been previously approved. Be sure to preview several variations of your emails with dynamic content. Plus, don’t just set and forget your automated emails; check them periodically, as well.
How’s your email QA process? Are you often making changes to your email campaigns at the last minute? Do mistakes slip through the cracks too frequently? Or perhaps your email QA process may be effective at catching errors, but it’s cumbersome and time consuming. FulcrumTech can help. As a dedicated email-marketing agency, we can manage your email production, including QA, from start to finish.
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