pre-send checklist: a guide to delivering quality emails
cured’s email pre-send checklist gives healthcare marketers the confidence to send impactful, compelling emails
Sending an email to thousands of recipients can be daunting - to prepare you for that moment, follow this step-by-step guide to ensure you are confident in the quality of your email. Be sure to review the following items before sending your email:
Segmentation is the practice of selecting your audience based on demographic, psychographic, or engagement data, and is crucial to deliver relevant and personalized content to your subscribers. Whether you want to segment based on age, gender, or even previous interaction with your emails, our platform gives you the tools to granularly manipulate who receives your messages.
After conducting your segmentation, however, it’s important to double-check your selected audience to confirm you have included the correct group of subscribers. Scroll through your send audience list and take notice of who is included. If you segmented by age, are those included in the right age range? Overall, we recommend using an “eye test” as a way to ensure you include the right audience.
Furthermore, the contact count indicates how many people will be receiving your message. Take notice if the count is too high or too low. If the count is lower than expected, check if your contacts have the data fields that would allow them to be included in your send audience. If the record count is higher than expected, go back and ensure that your audience segmentation and audience exclusion worked correctly.
- Verify that audience is valid and that data is correct
- Verify that audience count matches expected volume
2. Sender Profile
The next item to check is the 'from name' and Sender Profile. The 'from name' is the name that will appear in your inbox, indicating the identity of the sender. The main consideration when verifying your 'from name' is that it accurately reflects your business.
The Sender Profile is a general profile of information about the sender, including 'from name' and the return email address. Again, ensure that all items in your sender profile are up to date and active. Our platform allows you to create different sender profiles to include strategically in different email sends.
Sender Profile Checklist
- Verify that your 'from name' accurately reflects your business
- Verify all elements of your Sender Profile are up to date
3. Content Areas
Like all written content, emails should be free of any spelling, grammatical, or informational errors. Beyond the copy, ensure that other content including: images, visuals, and calls to action all fit with the tone and goal of the message. Does the flow of information make sense? Does your email effectively guide your reader towards action?
Additionally, assign alternative text, commonly called alt text, to all images you include in your message. Alt text is a brief written description attached to an image and allows those who receive text-only versions of your email to visualize what the image displays. For example, if you include an image of a dog, the alt text attached should read “dog”. Alt text is a simple, easy step that marketers across the board agree is best practice.
Finally, ensure your call to action (CTA) and all links in your email send the reader to the correct location. If you are seeking to track traffic to your website from this particular email, then also verify that UTM parameters have been appropriately added to your links. Lastly, your unsubscribe link located at the bottom of your email should also correctly send your recipient to the correct location. This detail is especially important for CAN-SPAM compliance, which we will discuss later in this article.
Content Areas Checklist
- Verify your email is without spelling or grammatical errors
- Verify your images and content adhere to your brand guidelines
- Verify that alt text is attached to all your images
- Verify that your links work and link to the correct page
4. Dynamic Content and Personalization
Personalization and dynamic content help deliver relevant and compelling messages to your audience. Personalization strings (ex: “hello, Josh!”) or dynamic modules (only those 65 years and older receive) in your email are great ways to boost engagement.
Use a test send to check if your dynamic content and personalization strings populate correctly. Did you receive the modules you expected to? Do personalization strings render? Does your email generally look how you expected? If you notice that your email appears strange, we recommend reviewing both your personalization code and dynamic content selection.
Lastly, dynamic content and personalization strings rely upon contact data, and you need a backup plan if that data is absent from some of your records. For example, if you want to include a first name personalization string that reads “Hello, First Name!”, Cured’s platform will automatically show “Hello, Friend!” if records do not have a first name populated. If possible, assign similar default values to other dynamic content and personalization strings.
Personalization and Dynamic Content Checklist
- Verify your both elements are populating when tested
- Verify you’ve assigned fallbacks for records with incomplete data
5. CAN-SPAM and HIPAA Considerations
The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornographic and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) is the national standard of email marketing regulation in the United States. Check the following items to make sure your marketing sends are CAN-SPAM compliant:
- A physical mailing address is included in your email
- Recipients can easily opt-out or unsubscribe from future messages
- The subject line pertains to the content in the email
- The email is marked as an advertisement
- Your health system is accurately represented as the sender
To stay HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant, avoid including personal health information (PHI) in the subject line. To remain compliant, there are additional rules and regulations around email to follow (source). Cured has thought of these and planned accordingly. Cured’s platform is fully HIPAA eligible allowing you to seamlessly send emails.
CAN-SPAM and HIPAA Checklist
- Verify that each CAN-SPAM element has been accounted for
- Verify that you have not included any PHI in your subject line
6. Render Testing
Email clients process and display emails differently, presenting an inherent hurdle for email marketers. For example, emails viewed in Microsoft Outlook may contain different formatting and spacing from those viewed in Gmail. Therefore, render testing should be the final step before sending your email out.
Render testing allows you to see how the final version of your email looks across each of the most commonly used email clients. Check for inconsistencies in design, formatting, and spacing elements and correct any issues. The goal is for each email to render how you intend it to be in your recipient’s inbox.
For render testing services, we recommend using either Litmus or Email on Acid. Each option offers several flexible subscription packages, so evaluate your team’s needs before making a purchase decision.
Render Testing Checklist
- Verify your email test has been sent to the necessary stakeholders
- Verify your email renders correctly in different email clients
7. Your Takeaways
Every step in the pre-send checklist is crucial for making sure your subscribers receive hyper-relevant, compelling, beautiful emails in their inbox. Each element of your email contributes to your subscriber’s impression of your company brand and influences their willingness to interact with your content. These recommendations will help you to deliver your message knowing each email element has been carefully evaluated and fully supports your marketing goals.
After you send your email, be sure to track and analyze its performance!