Email checklist: 8 things to check before sending

Even the smallest mistakes in your marketing emails can ruin an entire campaign.

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of hitting “send” and then realizing that you sent the wrong link to your entire contact list.

It happens more often than you might think.

About 33 percent of marketers send weekly emails, and 26 percent send emails multiple times per month. That’s a lot of chances for mistakes. And those mistakes can embarrass your brand, affect the email recipient’s perception of your company and prevent your email from achieving its goal.

An email checklist can help. Email marketing mistakes are easy to avoid when you know what to look for.

The following are eight things to check before sending your marketing email. This checklist can help ensure no mistakes get past you.

Send a test email to yourself

In general, you always want to send a test email to yourself and open it on multiple devices. This way, you can go over all the email content as it appears in an email client interface before your email subscribers do.

This gives you the best opportunity to see how everything looks and test all aspects of your email.

Confirm that you’re sending to the right contact list

It’s important to confirm that your email is going to the correct inboxes. Of course, your email has to start with a clear goal in mind. That goal will direct the right messaging for the right people. 

If you’re sending to the same message to all your contacts, it’s time to segment your contact list and personalize your messaging. DailyStory can help.

Remember that your customers and leads are all at different stages of your sales funnel. You wouldn’t send the same type of message to a past customer that you would a new lead, for example. 

Check for broken and forgotten links

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is to send out a marketing email with a broken or forgotten link. A broken link is when the link either doesn’t work or is incorrect in another way. A forgotten link is when the link is missing entirely.

Forgotten links are common on clickable images, social media buttons and call-to-action buttons.

Manually check every single link before you send your email to your target audience.

Confirm your personalized greeting

Personalization is powerful in email marketing. The ability to address a mass marketing email with a recipient’s first name can improve your open rate and potentially your conversion rate.

However, if a customer gets an email that says, “Hi {first name],” and not his or her actual first name, it looks unprofessional. And they likely won’t continue reading.

Double check all dynamic tags in your email to confirm that your personalization works. This is a must for your email checklist.

Check your grammar and spelling

This is typically the testing commonly thought about, confirming that your email has good grammar and spelling. This is because no matter what your content, if it has grammar or spelling errors, then your business will appear unprofessional and lose respect.

It’s all about proofreading. Sending a test version of your email to others on your team can help get additional eyes on your copy.

Tools also can help. A free spell checker can catch any spelling errors, but keep an eye out for homophones, words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. For example: flower and flour, or deer and dear. These can potentially slip through spell checkers. Grammar checkers, such as Grammarly, can help identify poor grammar in your copy as well.

Deliver clear value (and CTA)

It’s important to confirm that every email you send has a point and offers clear value to the recipient. Otherwise, you risk your subscribers opting out from receiving your emails entirely.

This goes beyond the spelling and grammar checks. What are you offering? It could be a tip, a discount code, a link to a helpful article or guide or something else (as long as you don’t sound spammy).

The value should be aligned with your email marketing goal and larger goals for your business. 

Of course, this value is capped off with a strong call-to-action. What do you want your recipients to do? Keep it simple, direct and compelling.

Optimize your subject lines and preview text

No matter how good your email content is, it doesn’t matter if your recipients never open your email to begin with. Your email checklist should include subject lines and preview text.

Your open rate largely comes down to your subject line. How are you catching your recipient’s attention and compelling him or her to open your email? 

Subject lines need to be strong and sound conversational. You don’t want to sound overly sales-focused or robotic. It’s about creating excitement.

Also, keep the length of your subject line as breif as possible. Recipients should be inspired to find out more.

Check out our 12 tips to write subject lines that won’t be ignored.

In addition to subject lines, the preview text can assist in compelling recipients to open your email. Preview text is a short snippet from your email text that displays in the inbox next to your email’s subject line. 

Of course, you don’t have to let it default to the first 140 characters or so from your email copy. The preview text copy can be customized to display a message that supports your subject line in achieving a higher open rate.

Check your images and design

Blurry images or bad formatting can ruin your email. So, it’s not all about checking your written content. You also want to confirm that all visual aspects of your email work and work together.

Keep an eye out for pixelated or squashd images, and make sure that all images have associated alt text and display how you want them to. (Alt text will help if your images don’t render properly.)

In addition, you’ll want to consider:

  • Formatting, such as bulleted list appearance and whether there’s too much or not enough white space
  • Colors since background colors might not render for all recipients (so white text on a dark background might be illegible for some recipients)

Check out six ways visuals can increase your email conversions.

In conclusion

Every email matters. It’s important to confirm every aspect of your marketing email before sending to ensure success. The cost of mistakes is too great. Set up your own email checklist so that you can stay on top of your email marketing and ensure that everything you send is as professional and effective as possible.

Check out our 16 email marketing best practices than can make a positive impact for your business.

As you’re setting up your email checklist, consider optimizing your overall digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email and text message marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Use email preview text to improve email open rates

The majority of email clients provide a snippet of text to preview the contents of an email in your inbox. This enables you to quickly scan your inbox and taken the next step: open the email.

What you may not know is that you can set this text using an email preheader.

Before you optimize your email’s inbox preview, make sure you read these tips to get your email to the inbox.

An effective email preheader increases open rates

And, if you aren’t setting a preheader, you may be missing an important email optimization that is proven to increase open rates:

And, you should use every part of your email to control your brand.

Before we explain how to set the email preheader, let’s clarify what the email preview text is.

What is email preview text?

The email preview text consists of the text displayed by an email client to preview the contents of an email.

This text displays to the right of the subject in Gmail and below the subject in both Microsoft Outlook and the Apple iOS Mail app.

Below is an example from Gmail highlighting the various parts of an email in the inbox:

Example of email preview text on Gmail

How email clients preview your email content

Email clients set the preview text automatically from the first lines of your email. And today’s modern email clients will use the first 40 or more characters as the preview – unless you set a preheader.

The technical explanation of where the email preview comes from

Let’s get a bit more technical. The preview text is the first non-HTML text found in the beginning of the text/HTML section of an email’s multi-part MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) body.

While the email body may contain both plain text and HTML versions of the email content, the preview text comes from the HTML version.

With a little bit of HTML and CSS Jiu-Jitsu, you can control what the email preview text shows.

This is known as an email preheader or email preview text.

We recommend that instead of letting the email client choose which text to display, you should proactively set this text. Use the email preheader to highlight your content or call to action.

There are two ways to control the email preview with an email preheader.

Let’s start with the easiest.

Use visible text to set the email preheader

The first option for setting the preheader is the easiest. Simply include some content at the top of your email. Much like how a Johnson Box is used for direct mail.

An email preheader is similar to a Johnson Box. A Johnson Box is used at the top of direct mail and includes the key message of the letter.

Here is an example of several emails with their preview highlighted:

Email preview text in Gmail

Looking at the first email in the example, the preview text of the email is set by the content at the top of the email:

Text selected for preview

This type of preheader is common, and you will see it often now that you know what it is. But you can see how the text “View on a web browser” leaked into the email preview text. Not exactly ideal.

A challenge with setting a visible preheader is that the amount of text shown by the email client is arbitrary. The length of preview text shown depends on the screen size, device and the email client itself.

This is a problem because the design and layout of your email won’t allow you to set several sentences of visible text!

While you can’t control how much text will be shown in your preview, you can control what text is shown by using a hidden email preheader.

Use hidden text to set the email preheader

Let’s look at an example email to help illustrate how a hidden text email preheader works:


As you can see, there is no visible text at the top of the email.

Instead, the email is heavy with HTML and images. But clearly, Gmail is able to find the right text to display:

Gmail finds email preheader

So, how does Gmail know which text to show in the email preview?

If you dig through the text/HTML section of the original email, you’ll find this code near the top:

Html of email preheader

This is known as a hidden email preheader.

Hiding text using HTML and CSS does require some hacks. We recommend using the following HTML and inline CSS.

<div class=”preheader” style=”display:none !important;
visibility:hidden !important;
mso-hide:all !important;
overflow:hidden !important;
display:none !important;”>
Visit During the Month of April for this Great Deal

Please note that the class name preheader is incidental and not required unless global styles are being set.

If you’re sending email using DailyStory, the email preheader is easily set when drafting or editing an email.

Now that you know how to control the preview text using hidden HTML, let’s quickly talk about writing an effective preheader.

Write good copy for your preview

Setting an effective preheader can make your email stand out in the inbox. Or, at the very least, clearly communicate the purpose of the email.

The example shown above for the Toyota tire sales event is a great example. Because the combined subject plus preheader text is written as a single statement:

Rob, The Tire Savings Event is Here – Buy 3 Tires, Get the 4th for $1 – Visit during the Month of April for this Great Deal

This message is personalized, has a clear value proposition, and has a clear call to action. All before we even open the email.

The subject and preheader text is written following many of the same guidelines for writing great Tweets.

This is a good strategy for how you should use your preheader copy. Write it as a continuation of the subject.

Why setting an email preheader is important

Hopefully, you’ve found this article helpful. And while we don’t like to focus on what not to do, it’s worth pointing out what happens when you don’t pay attention to how an email looks in your inbox.

Below is a screenshot of an email sent out daily by the Wall Street Journal. And unfortunately, it is a perfect example of where a hidden email preheader would be beneficial:

Not setting a preview

The preview text is clearly being built off of the first text in the email:


Setting the following hidden email preheader would make this email a lot more interesting in the inbox:

<div class=”preheader” style=”display:none !important;
visibility:hidden !important;
mso-hide:all !important;
overflow:hidden !important;
display:none !important;”>
Power Struggle  – The Trump administration’s commitment to coal is facing its stiffest test yet after an Ohio energy company made a plea to favor that power source over its many rivals.

A better email preheader

By setting the email preheader proactively, we get a much more useful view of the email in our inbox.

Use a minimum of 160 characters or more

Maybe you want to set the preheader to a limited amount of text by using something like this:

<div class=”preheader” style=”display:none !important;
visibility:hidden !important;
mso-hide:all !important;
overflow:hidden !important;
display:none !important;”>
This is a short header &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;

We haven’t tried this with all email clients, but Gmail ignores the non-breaking space and adds the next text it finds.

Always write at least 160 to 200 characters of copy. The entire text may not be shown, but this way you can control what is shown.

In summary

Set a preheader to control your email preview text. It is an important email optimization that is proven to increase open rates, along with writing an effective email subject line.

Set a preheader by hiding text using HTML and CSS. See the HTML snippet above for how to include a hidden preheader in your email.

Write your preheader copy as a continuation of the subject. And be direct and have a clear call to action.

While you can’t control how much text will be shown in your email preview, you can control what text is shown. And you should include at least 160 characters of text in your preheader copy.

Read more about strategies to increase email open rates.

As you begin experimenting with email preview text in your next campaign, consider optimizing your digital marketing process, which includes automation, audience segmentation and enhanced email marketing capabilities, to name a few. DailyStory can help. Schedule your free demo with us today.