Checklist: How to Test and QA an Email

So you wanna send a high stakes email?  Or train a junior staffer to start sending emails?  Or need a new process because (gulp) a bunch of crummy emails went out?  An email QA checklist is your friend.  Here’s ours.

>> Related: UTM Builder Template <<

Before you start QAing an email

  1. Take a break first.  I make more mistakes when I build an email and then immediately QA.  I end up looking for what I meant to say, instead of objectively reviewing if my meaning/grammar are clear.  Just take a break first.  Forget your intentions.  And you’ll be much more clear-eyed while testing.
  2. Budget 30 uninterrupted minutes.  Another cause of mistakes?  Assuming this will take 3 minutes.  When I rush, I end up cutting corners, and things like UTMs, image hyperlinks, and mobile views get shafted.  Give yourself a realistic amount of time to do the job thoroughly.
  3. Use/share a checklist.  There’s a reason pilots and surgeons use checklists.  When you’re doing something detailed and painstaking, it’s liberating to just focus on the work instead of trying to remember if you “did everything.”  Standardize the process and put all your energy into testing and optimizing your email. 

Email QA checklist

  • Render the email many different ways:
    • Preview the email in your marketing automation platform
    • Use Litmus to see what your email looks like in other email clients
    • Send a test email to your work email and a personal email
    • Review both test emails on your desktop and your phone
  • Check your subject line, “from” address and name, and preheader
  • Click every link and image in the email
    • All the links work
    • All the links have UTMs
    • The opt-out link goes to the opt out page
    • Phone numbers work – yes, call the phone numbers! 
  • Spell check
  • Ensure days/dates match
  • Grammar check
  • Brand:
    • The right logos (hyperlinked with UTMs of course)
    • The right colors and fonts
  • Variable/dynamic/tokenized content:
    • If variables are used, test message with default values
    • Review default values and confirm they make sense
    • Personalized content populates correctly
  • Send to a second person for a sanity check once you’ve made your updates
  • Review your audience, including exclusions
  • Send/schedule the email!

Bonus points

QA your templates using this same process. There’s no need to hyperlink/UTM your company logo in the footer every time if you trust your template.  This is a great exercise every December when things are slow (and you need to update the dates in the footer anyway)

Video walkthrough


Image via giphy


This free, coded Marketo template is beautiful, responsive, highly convertible, and easy to update with your brand colors and logos.

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