Practical Ecommerce

15 Essential Elements of Every Marketing Email

A timely email promotion is an easy and cost-efficient way to kick-start sales. But in the haste of a tight turnaround or deadline, it’s easy to make email composing mistakes, to miss crucial elements or even errors and typos.

In this post, I’ll offer a checklist of 15 items that every marketing email should have. Print it and use it for your email deployments.

Checklist: 15 Email Essentials

Subject line. Subject lines should be short, concise, and instruct the recipient as to the content of the message, to generate interest. Use language that also steers the user to the desired conversion path. Check for typos.

Preheader. A surprisingly underutilized element of email campaigns, preheaders appear under the subject line in the preview pane of the email client. Do not repeat words or phrases from the subject line. Instead, use the preheader as an extension of the subject line to help generate further interest from readers.

A good preheader — "Plus, just hours left to shop..." — will not repeat words from the subject line.

A good preheader — “Plus, just hours left to shop…” — will not repeat words from the subject line.

Correct personalization. When using personalization in the subject line or body of an email, review and test the data to ensure it is being pulled in correctly. Use default values when data is missing. For example, use a default value of “Customer” when the first name is missing in your database.

Physical mailing address. To be CAN-SPAM compliant, every email marketing message must contain a physical mailing address.

Unsubscribe link. Another requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act is that every email message must include a functioning unsubscribe link. Luckily, many email service providers have the unsubscribe functionality built-in. It prevents the sending of an email otherwise.

Ability to reply. On occasion, subscribers will click “reply” to marketing messages. Make sure you have access to the email account that serves as the reply-to address for your email communications and that it is checked regularly. Subscribers may reply that they have changed their email address, they want to place an order, or they are having trouble with your website.

Call to action. Unless the goal is branding or providing information, every email should have a direct and simple call to action that allows recipients to click from any device.

Images that populate. Confirm that all images load on all devices. Depending on the host, images may be slow to render or may not load at all.

Mobile rendering. Preview your creative content on Litmus, Email on Acid, or a similar tool. It will show how to the content renders across all combinations of devices and email clients. It is difficult, in my experience, for an email template to be perfect across all combinations. Focus on the most common ones.

Appropriate audience. As you segment your audience based on, say, recent purchases or demographic data, make sure the offer and message are appropriate for the segment that you are sending to.

Suppression lists. Suppressing an audience from a campaign is easy to overlook. The consequences can be dire. Make sure the suppression data is applied to the campaign — prior to deployment.

Links that work and track. Perhaps the most tedious task of preparing a marketing email is to check that every link is correct and functional. Similarly, check that all tracking parameters in the links are updated, correct, and firing. Broken links, incorrect links, and missing and dysfunctional tracking parameters can ruin the results.

Click to call. Most consumers open emails on their smartphones. Make sure your emails have a clear click-to-call button.

Featured products in stock. Email recipients tend to purchase items that are not featured directly in emails. Nonetheless, confirm that featured items are in stock before the campaign deploys.

Offer code. Check that offer codes in your emails are active and working correctly. For offers with a tight expiration date, ensure there is enough time for recipients to receive, open, and act on the offer.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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