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The Essential Pre-Deployment Checklist for Holiday Emails

Jul 3, 2014   |   3 min read

Knowledge Center  ❯   Blog

Back in 2011, this Bridgestone Tires Super Bowl commercial perfectly captured the dread that comes with hitting “reply all” when you mean to respond only to one person.

We’ve all felt the stomach churning panic associated with sending a private message to many. The good thing about you unintentionally replying all is that the repercussions usually aren’t as bad as you anticipate. But for brands, big email blunders mean big email problems.

For proof, look no further than Shutterfly. Just two months ago, the personalized products manufacturer and digital retailer sent an email congratulating a large number of its subscribers on their newborns. The problem is, many of the people who received the email weren’t new parents. It was a classic case of email segmentation gone wrong-a mistake that, had the proper deployment protocols been in place, never should have happened.

With the Fourth of July one day away, you’re probably planning a holiday-themed email send. The last thing you want to discover while chomping on a patriotic hot dog is that you sent an email to thousands of subscribers with a mistake in it. That’s why I’ve put together this quick pre-deployment checklist. While you should check every detail of your email (from the “from name” to the footer), there are a few elements you must get right to build and maintain trust with your email audience:


  1. Are you sending to the correct list? Take a lesson from Shutterfly: If you’re going to craft a message for a specific portion of your audience, make sure you’re sending it to the intended people.
  2. Do you have permission to send to this list? Never-and I mean never-mail without consent. Build your email database the right way using proven growth tactics.
  3. Has your list been cleaned recently? You have the right list but is the data accurate? Nothing spoils an email send like poor deliverability. Ensure your list is clean and free of invalid and fraudulent email addresses today by working with a real-time email validation provider.


  1. Is your subject line captivating? Your email subject line sets your recipients’ expectations and clearly states what’s inside the email. Find a way to stand out without overpromising and without sounding salesy.
  2. Is your content free of grammatical errors? A missed comma here or there won’t be the downfall of your brand, but multiple misspellings and mixed-up homonyms will impact how your audience perceives you. Always have a copy editor examine your emails.
  3. Is it clear and concise? Humans today have a 9-second attention span. Prune your content so it quickly captures readers’ attention.
  4. Is it personalized? Seventy-eight percent of consumers say they will buy more from a retailer that uses personalization, making it a key competitive advantage in email marketing. If you’re not personalizing your content, you better have a good excuse!


    1. Is your CTA compelling? Is the offer worthwhile? Communicate the value of clicking your emails using your CTA.
    2. Is it above the fold? Don’t bury your CTA; prominently display it above the fold.
    3. Is it linking to the correct place? Nothing’s worse than being told you’re going one place only to be sent to another. Using the wrong link in your CTA will leave recipients feeling frustrated and annoyed.


  1. Have you tested your email across multiple browsers? In a perfect world, how your email appears on your screen is how it would appear to your recipients. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. To ensure your email renders correctly across browsers, make sure to test it.
  2. Is your email responsive? Nearly two out of three emails are read on mobile devices. It’s possible the percentage is even higher around the holidays. (Think about it: You’re probably not going to take your laptop to your family’s outdoor picnic, but I bet you take your cell phone.) That’s why it’s essential to optimize your design for mobile and then test it across a variety of devices.
  3. Are you running A/B tests? If you’re not running A/B tests, you’re not planning ahead. A/B tests are a wonderful opportunity to get to know your recipients better and improve future campaigns. And remember, think beyond testing the subject line.

One final pre-deployment note for consideration before Friday: Never send a holiday email for the sake of sending. If sending a holiday email does not fit with your overall email marketing strategy, if you do not have a clear goal for this email and a plan for measuring its effectiveness when you return to the office, just don’t send it.

What would you add to this pre-deployment checklist?

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