presend checklist with yellow checkmarks

Pre-Send Email Checklists: What’s the Best Way to QA?

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In a digital world where nothing is forgotten, a mistake can cause more than just embarrassment. Wrong links, illegible text, insensitive language, or one of dozens (probably more like hundreds) of other issues can cost companies substantial revenue and email marketers their jobs. 

That might seem extreme, but those in the industry know all too well the mental flash of worst-case scenarios they experience just before a campaign launches. It’s so common that it’s become known as “send button anxiety.” 

But what if you could have send button confidence instead?

The only thing that seems to reduce this sort of email marketing stress is to check the email for mistakes or issues. Then check again. And again. And yet, you can still forget something and find yourself sorting through a disaster. 

This is why even the most skilled and experienced email marketers use pre-send checklists to ensure everything is done correctly. Going in for an important medical procedure? Surgeons have a checklist. As pilots prepare to fly 400 precious lives across the ocean — a checklist.  

So for teams who are sending high-stakes emails (and that’s almost any company that cares about their reputation or bottom line), they give each message the attention it deserves with a pre-send email checklist. When anxiety strikes, they can see that everything was double-checked. 

Is there a right way to conduct email quality assurance? We believe so. Model it after the way subscribers actually experience your message — how it appears in their inbox, first — and take care of the technical aspects next, before you focus on Email Previews at the end of the process.

And… 

You can use an automated pre-send checklist

A 360-degree, pre-send checklist for email professionals

Email on Acid has developed the tools that industry leaders trust to consistently deliver email perfection. As part of our full suite, we offer an automated email readiness checklist that we call Campaign Precheck

This allows you to review your preheader text, address accessibility issues, validate URLs and images, run spell check, see if you’ve been blocklisted, run spam tests, and then preview how your email renders on more than 90 of the most popular devices and email clients. 

What’s particularly great about Campaign Precheck is that you can find and fix issues immediately. So there’s no more back and forth between email quality assurance and development. It makes everyone more efficient — and efficiency is money. 

This is way more than an email preview. Those are typically little more than a screenshot of the email. You can’t tell if the preheader text is correct. You don’t know if the URLs are right. And it might look okay on your computer, but how do you know that it will look great for everyone

Campaign Precheck puts you on the path to follow the best practices of email design which, at the end of the day, helps you achieve your ultimate goal: land in the inbox of your subscribers and garner meaningful engagement. 

The 8 steps of Campaign Precheck

1. Inbox display 

email inbox display test pre-send checklist step

Inbox Display shows you the subject and preheader text and is the first thing Campaign Precheck covers because it’s the first encounter subscribers have with your message. If you don’t nail this, nothing else matters. So by ensuring you have the correct information, you’re optimizing for opens. 

When the subject and preheader are isolated, do they still sound enticing enough to pique the interest of your audience? Did you incorporate that last-minute change from the copywriting team? Are there any embarrassing spelling mistakes? 

Once your inbox preview is optimized for opens, it’s time to ensure that your message can be interpreted by everyone on your list. 

2. Accessibility 

Email accessibility tool

Just as your emails can’t deliver results if they aren’t opened, they won’t meet your objectives if subscribers can’t read them. Our Accessibility tool focuses on the millions of Americans who, according to the CDC, have visual impairments. 

Can your email be read with a screen reader? Is there alt text for every image? Does the contrast ratio meet WCAG AA standards? Did you underline every link? 

Missing this step means you’re wasting a substantial portion of your list. Your company will suffer and your quarterly report will, too.

3. URL validation

link validation tool CTA check

Do your links resolve or is there an error? Do they actually go to your intended destination? 

If you’re eyeballing links and manually clicking them one by one, you’re still leaving too much up to human error. 

Our URL Validation tool lists all of your links in a single spot and automatically displays any error messages. You can easily confirm that each one works properly and edit them directly within the checklist. See? Efficiency. 

You can even identify the UTM tracking tags that are used so you can ensure that you receive proper credit for the results your message generates! 

4. Image validation

Image validation tool

Outlook is notorious for displaying images in ways other than you intended. There are three aspects of Email on Acid’s Image Validation tool

  1. A callout if an image is missing a border or width (or even if there’s a “0” value entered).
  2. A GIF optimizer that defines which frame Outlook uses as the thumbnail or static image.
  3. An image optimizer for speed and message size. Nobody is going to wait more than a few seconds for your images to load. To maximize your speed, they should be less than 200KB. If your images don’t meet this standard, we’ll optimize them for you. Email on Acid can even host the images on your behalf. But if you don’t want to take advantage of that offer, we provide you with a folder of compressed images at the end of Campaign Precheck.

The Image Validation step in Campaign Precheck is a great example of why many call this a find and fix tool. 

It doesn’t just tell you which frame is set to show as the thumbnail for your GIF, it lets you choose which frame to use. It doesn’t just tell you that the images are too large, it compresses them for you. How’s that for red carpet service?

5. Spell check

email profanity filter tool for pre-send checklist

The Spell Check tool checks every aspect of your email — from preheader text to body copy — for awkward errors. Your copywriter surely did this before they finished their work, but as things change hands and edits are made, errors have a not-so-funny way of creeping in. 

Email on Acid also has a brand integrity checker to ensure you didn’t use any terms that are best left unsaid. And at the end of the day, you can choose to ignore any warnings like branded words that a typical dictionary might not recognize. 

6. Domain blocklists

domain blocklist check

This is about more than your domain. It’s about every domain you link to within your message. If any are blocklisted, it could impact the deliverability of your email. Plus, there may be a good reason a domain is on the naughty list. You definitely don’t want to be responsible for sending your subscribers to a harmful site.  

One of the functions of the Deliverability checker is to validate domains against four different services. If there’s a problem, we’ll provide you with the code generated and a link to that particular blocklist so you can resolve the problem. 

7. Spam 

email spam test

Our spam test is the second half of the Deliverability checker and runs your email against more than 20 different filters. Does your message make it to the inbox? You’ll get a list of pass/fail results along with any specific filters that failed the message. 

This is all about knowing what’s going to happen to your message before you send it. Trust us: it’s much better than finding out from an angry boss or subscriber that you’ve landed in the spam folder. Eek! Talk about a hit to brand reputation.  

8. Email previews

email client test resutls for pre-send checklist

Now that all of the behind-the-scenes stuff has been completed, it’s time to look at the complete picture. Previewing screenshots of your emails is a key step in the pre-send checklist process.

Again, this comes at the end because any changes made during the first part of the email QA process can affect how the message actually displays on someone’s device. Plus, a beautiful preview can give you a false sense of security: a perfectly-designed message is worthless if it’s not delivered, opened, and viewable. 

Our Email Previews are much more than screenshots. They’re actual live clients. You’ll see exactly what your subscribers will see.  One thing that sets Email on Acid apart from similar platforms … Unlimited Testing. No matter your plan, you can test as many emails as you want and share them with team members without hitting a monthly ceiling.

You can preview more than 90 different clients and devices. And then you can preview again and again until you’re ready to deliver email perfection. 

With a pre-send checklist, you hold the steering wheel 

Email on Acid provides you with the opportunity to check the most critical aspects of your message and make immediate edits. This means you can use our automated pre-send checklist to achieve better results with more efficiency than ever. There’s no need to rely on third parties or a co-worker across the hall to tell you if your email “looks good.” You’re in control. 

Plus, with Email on Acid, you can create customized workflows based on your team’s needs. With our email team management tools you can set up various permissions and responsibilities so the right people have access and the wrong people don’t. You can even toggle on or off specific aspects of Campaign Precheck if they don’t fit into your workflow for any reason. 

You’re in the driver’s seat and you’ve got the wheel. It’s time to deliver email perfection.

Give Campaign Precheck a Try!

While you can use our email readiness platform in a variety of ways, we’ve designed the optimal predeployment checklist with Campaign Precheck. It streamlines and simplifies the entire QA process for efficiency and accuracy. Log in now to start using Campaign Precheck. Or, sign up for your free trial today!

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Author: Geoff Traub

Geoff Traub leads Email on Acid's Customer Success Team, which works to onboard and assist marketers who use our email readiness platform. Geoff and his team are happy to support our customers in their quest to deliver email perfection. He resides in the mountains of Idaho, and his woodpile is probably bigger than yours.

Author: Geoff Traub

Geoff Traub leads Email on Acid's Customer Success Team, which works to onboard and assist marketers who use our email readiness platform. Geoff and his team are happy to support our customers in their quest to deliver email perfection. He resides in the mountains of Idaho, and his woodpile is probably bigger than yours.

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