perfect email newsletter

Your 14-point checklist to rock the perfect email newsletter

It’s no doubt that email marketing plays a crucial role in your business. So for the new year we want you to get started on the right foot and succeed. With that being said, we’ve created a checklist of 14 things that you should be doing before you hit “Send” to create the perfect email newsletter. It may sound like a lot, but many of these steps can be done fairly quickly or over time. Plus, we’ve written it in a simple, straightforward format so you can refer to it anytime you wish.

1. Write engaging copy

Engaging, easy to read, and well formatted copy always wins.

  1. Is your copy easy to skim?
    Is your copy broken down into short paragraphs vs. big scary blocks of text? Do you use headers and formatting to help the eye grab the most important information? Do you use simple words as much as possible?
  2. Is your tone on point?
    Does your tone reflect your brand personality? Is your tone engaging? Do you sound like a human being rather than a marketing-speak robot?

2. Use images to help conversions

Images are wonderful, and their purpose should be to help your content convert.

  1. Do your images support the content?
  2. Are images small enough not to slow load time?
  3. Are all your images linked?
  4. Is your logo image linked to the home page?

3. Add alt text for images

If your reader’s inbox blocks images, they’ll see nothing unless you add alt text.

  1. Is Alt text added for all images?
  2. Does your Alt text convey message behind the image and support the content?

4. Create a compelling call-to-action (CTA)

It’s tempting to be lazy and use the typical “Shop Now” or “Sign Up” for your CTA. But that won’t get your readers where you want them to be.

  1. Does your CTA use action and value-oriented words?
    Does your CTA describe a clear value? Do you use verbs that emphasize what your subscribers get rather than what they need to do? (for example, “get”, “receive” or “discover” instead of “buy”, “download” or “signup”)
  2. Does your email have one primary CTA?
    Does your content clearly focus on one primary CTA? Do you avoid distracting and overwhelming readers with too many options?
  3. Is your CTA repeated?
    Do you make sure your readers have multiple chances to take the action you want them to take? Do you present your CTA in different formats?
  4. Is your CTA tested with images blocked?
    Is your CTA built as an image? If that’s the case, it won’t show up in inboxes with blocked images. Did you consider building “bulletproof” HTML buttons to make sure they always display correctly and don’t slow-down your email load time? If that’s not an option, does your CTA image include alt text and does your email still make sense without the image?
  5. Is your CTA visually striking?
    If you sit back and squint at your email, can you still easily point out your CTA?

5. Test your dynamic content

Using dynamic content is a great way to personalize your emails and better engage with your reader. The most common use involves dynamically inserting each reader’s name at the start of your email: “Hi Emily!”

  1. Is your dynamic content tested?
  2. Does your dynamic content include a fallback or does it still read well if the data is missing?
    Does your text still make sense if the dynamic content doesn’t find data to autofill for all your subscribers? Did you consider including a fallback option? For example, if you use dynamic content to autofill each reader’s name, did you add a fallback option in case a name isn’t in your database (“Hi there!”)?

6. Make it easy to contact you

If a customer has a question, don’t make them dig for your contact information, you might miss out on a sale. Let your customers know how to reach you and, if possible, include a phone number in your emails.

Always include your business postal address – it’s the law (CAN-SPAM).

  1. Do your transactional emails includes clear contact instructions?
  2. Does your email invite readers to contact you and tell them how? (if relevant)
  3. Does your “Reply to” email address direct to the team able to help?

7. Leverage a signature

Your email signature can be a great marketing tool. You can use it to advertise an event, promote your site and blog, drive traffic to your social media accounts, make an offer, or simply add a personal touch to your message.

Whether you include a signature or decide not to should depend on your content and brand.

  1. Is your personal signature considered?
    Does your “From” field include a name and does your content read like a personal message? If so, did you consider closing the loop with a personal signature? On the other hand, do you only use your brand and never mention team member names in your marketing and communication? Does your content look strange ending with a signature? In these cases, your email is better off without a signature.
  2. Does your signature include contact information? (if relevant)
  3. Does your signature include marketing elements? (if relevant)

8. Don’t forget your P.S.

Readers have a tendency to read this section of the email, even if they skip the rest. Consider taking advantage of this bit of real-estate to highlight your CTA, summarize your content, repeat an important point, or offer something special.

Successful copywriters sometimes play with a P.S., P.P.S., P.P.P.S., etc.

  1. Is your P.S. considered?
  2. Does your P.S. highlight something important?

9. Spend time on your subject

Remember, the hours you put into creating the perfect email will go to waste if it isn’t opened.

  1. Is your subject attention grabbing?
    If you heard your subject line while walking in the street, would you do a double take? (If so, that’s great!) Is your subject exciting, enticing, personal, and/or relevant to your reader? Did you consider adding a sense of scarcity or urgency?
  2. Is your subject spammy?
    Did you go overboard with all-caps and endless exclamations? Is there a connection with your content? Are you staying away from tricks that could annoy your reader?
  3. Did you consider your subject length?
    Will your subject stand out in a crowded inbox? Did you try to be different by testing very short (1 to 4 words) or very long subjects? (Most marketers write subject lines between 45-60 characters.)
  4. Did you consider using emojis?
    Do they match your brand tone and your audience? Did you test how your emojis show up in all email clients?

10. Leverage the “From” field

Your “From” field is the first thing your recipients see, even before your subject line.

Using an email address instead of a name is a pretty sure way to be ignored. On the flip side, trying to pass as a friend by using only a name without your brand, will quickly land you in the spam folder (unless you’re famous!)

  1. Does your “From” field fit logically with content and brand?
    Does your content read like a personal message from a member of your team? Does your brand have a face that your readers will recognize? If so, did you consider using a name in your “From” field followed by your brand name (for example “David | Sailors & Mermaids”). This will help forge a personal connection with readers while staying transparent. On the other hand, do you typically only use your brand in marketing materials? Does your content not read like a personal message? In these cases, stick to your brand name.

11. Consider the email address you send from

Nothing is less engaging than receiving an email from donotreply@brandname.com. You want to start a conversation with subscribers and build trust, not tell them you have better things to do than reading their emails. Using “info” or “support” instead of “donotreply” is an improvement, but it doesn’t position you as a human.

The more personal you can make it, the better (for example: david@sailorsandmermaids.net). To avoid drowning in customer support emails, create a new address with your name and redirect it to your support team address.

  1. Can your readers reply to the email address used?
  2. Is your email address consistent with your “From” field?
  3. Does your email address invite a reply if the reader needs to reach you?

12. Include an opt out option

It should be easy for your readers to unsubscribe from your list. If a subscriber wants to opt out, making it difficult won’t magically turn them into eager readers. Keeping them on your list will hurt your open rate, deliverability, and reputation.

If that’s not convincing enough, remember that it’s the law (CAN-SPAM)!

  1. Is an Opt out/Unsubscribe link included?
    Is your footer opt out link easy to find? Is is simple and quick to opt out?

13. Check your links

If your reader goes as far as to click on a link, imagine their disappointment if the link doesn’t work (and think of the time you wasted trying to get them to click on that broken-link).

  1. Are your links tested?
  2. Is your link text formatted correctly?
    Did you want a different format than the typical blue, underlined link? Did you test that your link formatting doesn’t get overruled after sending (some ESP’s already include link settings that might override your design)?

14. Test your email!

There’s no telling what your readers will see, if you don’t test your email across different email clients, apps and devices. We highly recommend previewing your emails, and check load time, links, image blocking, and more.

  1. Does your email display correctly across email clients?
    Did you test your email on the major email clients? Did you check your email display on mobile devices?

Phew! Thanks for hanging in there with me. Follow these steps and you’ll never regret pressing “Send” too soon.

If you have questions about anything here or need help with you’re online presence, we’d love to hear from you.

About David Zupec

David Zupec is a web designer at the helm of Sailors & Mermaids, a small web design studio based in Michigan. His passion is helping small businesses build a successful online presence.

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