5 Steps for Crafting Email Marketing Content

Email MarketingRegardless of the number of times you have done it before, the specific moment before you send an email to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of subscribers can be nerve wracking. Once the send button has been pressed, the email is gone, and it is too late for any changes or corrections to be made. The last thing you want to be left with is questions of whether or not the email reached everyone it was supposed to.

Ensuring that the content is accurate and correct before it is sent involves more than simply proofreading with a second pair of eyes. A well-defined process should be followed to ensure that the message you are delivering reflects well upon your business or organization. Occasionally, a mistake will happen, but with an appropriate plan in place, your chances of making a mistake will be drastically reduced.

Here is a 5 step plan, which we use ourselves at Webati, which will ensure that your email marketing content is always following the straight and narrow with regards to accuracy:

Step #1 – Creating an SLA

The first step in crafting superb email marketing content is to create an SLA (service level agreement). An SLA creates the deadlines for your email marketing campaign from start to finish. You might be curious what exactly this has to do with ensuring that an email is accurate.

The chance for making mistakes is going to be at its highest when your campaign is rushed. Because an SLA creates deadlines, it ensures that each member of your marketing time is provided with sufficient time to meet each deadline in the creativity process. It prevents errors that often occur as a result of being rushed. Timing is a critical component of executing an effective marketing plan, and an SLA serves to meets this particular requirement.

Step #2- Direction Documentation

The next step in the process is creating direction documentation, which will serve as the foundation of your quality assurance checklist. Components of your direction documentation will include the campaign name, subject line, pre-header content, asset location, links, content copy, and much more.
During the direction documentation phase, each aforementioned element of the email will be verified, and requested changes will also be documented.

Step #3- Appropriate Coding

For an email marketing campaign to be successful, each email must be coded correctly. The appropriate codes must be chosen to accommodate Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail. Code must also be included to ensure that the email can be resized to be viewed correctly on a mobile device.

Coding an email is quite different than coding for a webpage. It is a sad fact that there are not enough available classes that teach email coding. Email coding could be thought of as akin to coding for the Internet…ten years ago. It is not something that is encouraged in most classes for web development these days.

When coding for email, working from a template can be quite useful. It will ensure that the required elements are met for each campaign and that recyclable components do not have to be recoded for each successive campaign. With less information that must be changed from email to email, the chances that an error will occur are diminished significantly.

Step #4 – Testing

Once the previous steps have been met, it is time to test the content of what you have crafted. From what we have discussed, it is obvious that the majority of what ensures an email is accurate occurs well before the email is actually sent. The first step is to determine platform testing criteria for each individual email campaign. From this information, you can then fashion your validation checkpoints from this point forward.

If you thought that testing for websites was complicated, think again. Email utilizes a number of ISPs, browsers, and clients – for mobile devices and desktops alike. Each client is going to treat the code differently, and simply because the email can be viewed correctly on one device does not mean it will work across all platforms.

At a bare minimum, it is recommended that you test Apple Mail and Outlook 2000 & 2010 for desktops, Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail for webmail, and iOS 6 (for iPhones and iPads) and Android for mobile devices. There are a number of available tools that can assist with this type of testing. Two great options are Litmus and Return Path’s Inbox Preview.

Step #5 – Deployment

Now that your email has been approved for sending, you’re ready to go, right? Not exactly. Any number of errors can occur during the final deployment phase. To minimize the chances of something going wrong, we highly recommend having a second set of eyes available. In doing so, you will have someone you can discuss each step of the deployment phase with. It will give you enough time to reflect before pressing the send button and to do that critical triple check.