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2 Posts authored by: Grace Brebner Champion

Hitting that big "launch" button can be a scary thing to do. I've sent a lot of email campaigns in my time, but I still get a bit of that big-red-button-anxiety bit each time. What if I've misspelt something horrendously? What if the links break? What if the world explodes?

 


Well, the good news for starters: no mistake you make in an email will cause the world to explode. So don't put that on your head. Most mistakes are also mistakes you can recover from - there's plenty of great examples out there of companies bouncing back from mistakes in ways that are actually quite endearing.

 

BUT. Ideally you don't want to have to bounce back - you want to avoid making those mistakes in the first place. How do you do that? Pre-launch checklists. But the trick is that a lot of the time you don’t know what to check for until you've made a mistake with that thing (ugh). So - rather than learning from only your mistakes, it's helpful when you can learn from everyone else's, too.

 

What you need to know about checklists

Fortunately, I've made a lot of mistakes! And here's a few key things I've learned…

  • Yes, pre-launch checklists are a time investment. If you’re not doing them now, it will add time to your process. And it’ll take users a while to get used to them.
  • But, they’re a great training tool. Having pre-launch checks in place forces users to check their work, and - more importantly - understand it. As they get familiar with the process, they’ll be better able to avoid mistakes before they happen, because they’re training themselves to look out for them.
  • Which actually makes pre-launch checklists a time saver. Once you’ve invested the time to set them up, and users have invested the time to get to know the process, the checklists often take very little time to fill out, and less frequently reveal errors - because users become more accurate through the practice of using them. 

 

The Ultimate Pre-Launch Checklist

 

So here’s the goods.

 

Over the years, I’ve cobbled together every mistake I’ve made, or seen someone else make, and used it to form a pretty comprehensive checklist. And I’ve pooled details from other champs to help make sure I haven’t missed anything (big thanks to Joe Reitz, Natalie Kremer, Jessica Kao, Amber Hobson and Marketo's own Meghana Rao!).

 

Obligatory disclaimer


This is not a short checklist - if it was, it wouldn’t be the ultimate checklist.
I am not recommending that you make your users go through this whole thing every time. Most people will not need every piece of the checklist, and no one should ever need every piece of it every time. That would be a bit insane. 

 

So here’s the general idea:

  • Use what’s relevant, ignore/delete what’s not, and customise it for your needs: in general (e.g. don’t have revenue cycle modeler? Delete those steps), and in specific cases (e.g. program doesn’t have a form? Ignore that section this time).
  • Set your requirements: being clear about what answer is acceptable at any point helps users understand why you’re asking these questions.
  • Two is better than one: in an ideal world, the person who built the program should never be the only person who reviews it - sometimes it’s also good for them not to be the ones who launch it. Building programs can be a deep process - and sometimes a bit of distance is key to spotting issues. 
  • Check as you go: don’t roll through a checklist and tick things off by memory - memory is fallible, and (generally) flattering. Need to confirm the channel is correct? Look, then check it off. Assets approved? Look, then check it off. Always check!
  • Leave the last steps to last: the last steps ask you to repeat some key checks - for a reason. Sometimes things need to be changed along the way - and whenever something changes, there is a possibility that a mistake was made. The last steps should always be checked over just before you hit send!

Got it? Good. Here you go then!

 

Key Details and Planning

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Program type: Is it appropriate?

(e.g., if Engagement program, is it logical? if Default, is it logical?)

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes you may need to change your program type (see Programs - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation )

2

Channel: Is the channel appropriate? Do the Channel Steps (a.k.a. program statuses) support the program's success management?

(e.g., if set up as a newsletter, does this make sense and do the program statuses support the purpose of the program, or are you trying to twist something pre-existing but not suitable?)

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes, you will need to either change your channel or discuss the creation of a new one with a system admin. (see Understanding Tags - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation)

3

Program Naming Convention: Is this set following your naming conventions correctly?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes, or aren't sure, review your naming conventions and if necessary, update the name of your program.

4

Period Cost: Has the program had a cost assigned?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes, add a period cost in (even if it's just zero! - see Understanding Period Costs - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation)

5

Success: Has the program's objective and success metric been clearly identified? Do you know how you're going to measure it? Is it being marked with a program status change?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes, you will not have an easy means of understanding whether your campaign had any impact identify what your primary objective is, and then a means of measuring it - even if it's a manual list import after 7 days!

6

Audience: Has the program's audience been clearly identified?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this question with a yes... well you're not sending. So find out!

7

Tokens: Have all required program tokens been updated?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes or N/A. If you can't answer with a yes, or don't know whether it applies, check your program tokens tab and see whether the program contains any local tokens that need to be updated. (See Understanding My Tokens in a Program - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation)

 

Web Personalisation Campaigns

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Design: Is the design consistent with the brand?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this with a yes you either need a good reason for it or you need to redesign it.

2

Testing: Has it been tested across devices? browsers? Does it both render cleanly and function?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should test this.

3

Data: If there is a form in the campaign, has the form been tested?
Do all triggers flow as expected? Do all form fields map accurately? Can you prove this, having checked a lead record's activity log - not just the fields?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should test this.

4

Tracking: If you have a form in the campaign, are hidden UTM fields in place to track sources of submissions? Have these been tested?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes or no. If answering no, understand that your ability to track what sources directed people to this form will be more limited.

5

GDPR/CASL Compliance: If data is captured through the form, is the opt in compliant and do you provide collection statement w/functioning Privacy Policy link?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. Know your relevant compliance environment: if you cannot answer this question with a yes, you need to update to ensure it is compliant. If you do not know, seek appropriate advice.

6

GA Integration: Is your Web Personalisation integrated with Google Analytics?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes or no. If answering no, understand that your ability to track what web personalisation impact will be more limited.

7

Segments: Is the segment chosen appropriate, and does it apply to the right domains? Is the segment being sent to GA?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you'll need to update it.

 

Landing Pages

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Design: Is the design consistent with the brand? Does it use the appropriate template?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this with a yes you either need a good reason for it or you need to redesign it.

2

Testing: Has it been tested across devices? browsers? Does it both render cleanly and function?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should test this.

3

URL: Has the page URL been customised? is it logical/does it follow naming conventions?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should update this.

4

Meta/OG tags: Have the OG tags been set? The title, descriiption, images, etc. (Note that these will impact how the page displays in social sharing!)

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should update this.

5

Robots: What are the settings? Do they make sense given your needs?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this with a yes, you should update it.

6

Personalisation: If your page has any personalised elements on it, have you tested them? Do they all work as expected?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, go test!

7

Images: have all images used been compressed properly? If there is text overlaying any images, is it clearly legible? Do you have the rights to use these images & are they on brand?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. All images (if any are used) should be compressed to improve load speed! (See Demand Lab's fantastic guide to image compression

8

Copy: Have you reviewed the copy for any grammar errors? Is the copy on tone for your brand? Does your copy make it clear what the page's objective is?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, review your copy!

9

Forms: If the page has a form on it, is the right form being referenced?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes (or n/a), fix it!

10

Thank You: If there's a form on your page, does the page display a success message/redirect to a thank you page on submission as appropriate?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes (or n/a), fix it!

11

GDPR/CASL Compliance: If data is captured through the form, is the opt in compliant and do you provide collection statement w/functioning Privacy Policy link?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. Know your relevant compliance environment: if you cannot answer this question with a yes, you need to update to ensure it is compliant. If you do not know, seek appropriate advice.

12

Tracking: Do you have google analytics, tag manager, and / or munchkin settings applied to the page as intended? Should this page have munchkins on or off by default?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, ask!

 

Forms

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Responsive: Is the form device responsive?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this with a yes, you should update the CSS to make it responsive or it may impact your performance.

2

Design: Is the design of the form brand consistent?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer this with a yes you either need a good reason for it or you need to update the CSS to make it on brand.

3

Data Flow: Does all data map to fields as intended? Have you checked a test record's activity log to prove this?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and test this.

4

Tracking: Are hidden UTM fields in place to track sources of submissions to this form? Have these been tested?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes or no. If answering no, understand that your ability to track what sources directed people to this form will be more limited.

5

GDPR/CASL Compliance: If data is captured through the form, is the opt in compliant and do you provide collection statement w/functioning Privacy Policy link?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. Know your relevant compliance environment: if you cannot answer this question with a yes, you need to update to ensure it is compliant. If you do not know, seek appropriate advice.

 

Smart Campaigns

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Accuracy: Have all necessary smart campaigns been checked, reviewed, and considered accurate?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding.

2

Send count: If your email sending campaign is a batch campaign (not triggered) look at the count of leads in the "schedule" tab - do the numbers align to what you expect? Is it below the abort threshold?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding.

3

Master Rules: Are master segmentations/lists being used if/where appropriate?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. Master lists/segmentations are designed to reduce the number of fields you must reference and reduce the risk of human error. You should be VERY confident of your rules if not using master lists/segmentations.

4

Attribution: If the program will be acquiring new leads (e.g., an event program) are attribution settings included as required? Is acquisition program being mapped?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you are importing leads to your program, or your program will be acquiring new leads, you should have acquisition program settings used.

5

Engagement Programs: If documenting an engagement program, are there campaigns in place to ensure members are added, paused, and restarted as appropriate? Have these steps been sense-checked by others?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If this is an engagement program, and you cannot answer with a yes without good reason, don't activate until this is in place

6

Subscription Preferences: Have all necessary subscription preference factors been included?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you're unsure, ask! You'll need a good reason to say N/A (e.g., operational sends).

7

Program Status: Are there flow steps included to update program statuses?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, you should to add these into your smart campaign flow steps (see Change Program Status - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation)

8

Broader Impact: Are any flow steps sending alerts/writing to fields that sync to other teams/systems? If so, has volume been considered and have stakeholders for those teams/systems been advised?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / No / N/A. Any answer is okay but if it does map you should usually inform the team that owns the system. If you're not sure, ask!

9

Scoring Impact: Have any implications to lead scoring been considered?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, ask!

10

RCM Impact: Have any implications to the lead lifecycle model been considered?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, ask!

11

Nurture Impact: Have any implications to existing nurture programs considered? Have you ensured people will not be bombarded?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you can't answer yes or n/a, ask!

12

Reporting Success: Is program success being measured logically? Is the success reasonable - not too close in the process? Not too far? Do you have a strategy for HOW you will report on and measure success?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you can't answer yes, rethink your success metric!

 

Lists

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Logic: If smart lists are being used to identify any part of the audience, has the logic been checked, reviewed, and considered accurate?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding.

2

List Import Processes: If static lists are being used to identify any part of the audience, is the data source trustworthy and has the import been done accurately & according to your list import processes?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding.

3

Exclusions: Are any required exclusions being included (e.g. competitors, unsubscribe, black lists)

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. You must have unsubscribes filtered out unless you have a very good, legally compliant reason not to. You should be very confident of your content, campaign rules and legal basis if not including any of these.

4

Master Lists: Are master lists/segmentations being used where appropriate?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. Master lists/segmentations are designed to reduce the number of fields you must reference and reduce the risk of human error. You should be VERY confident of your rules if not using master lists/segmentations.

 

Audience

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Legal Basis: You have an appropriate legal basis for contacting your audience - either:

  • Explicit: They have explicitly opted in to receive marketing comms from your brand
  • Inferred (where compliant): They have provided you with their contact details and can reasonably expect that you will use this information to contact them.
  • Deemed (where compliant): You have obtained their contact details from a public source and can reasonably assume the content is relevant to them, given the public source.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes - & state the basis. Be sure whatever basis you choose is valid in your compliance environment. If you cannot answer with a yes, STOP and seek clarification regarding the legal basis for contacting this audience.

2

Data Sources: If you are identifying your audience through a list import, is your data source trustworthy?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you cannot answer with a yes, seek clarification on the data source.

3

List Purchasing: Has audience has been sourced through list purchasing or sponsorship activities?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

No if source = list purchasing. List purchasing is bad practice, illegal in many places, and often a breach of your contract with your Marketing Automation platforn,

Yes if source = sponsorship. In sponsorship & competition cases, ensure the data capture was compliant. It is best practice to be clear in the first comm how you received their info, and to make opt out easy.

4

Relevance: The information you are about to send this audience is relevant to them and to their relationship with you.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, STOP and consider very carefully why you are sending to these people. Sending information that is not relevant to them or their relationship with you is likely to adversely affect performance, deliverability, and may be a breach in your compliance environment.

5

Expectation: This audience expects to hear from you.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, STOP and consider very carefully why you are sending to these people. Sending to an audience who do not want/expect to hear from you is likely to adversely affect performance, deliverability, and may be a breach in your compliance environment.

 

Email Testing Checklist

Check

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Sender email address: checked with brand owner, confirmed to be safe for use.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should check before proceeding.

2

Sender name: checked with brand owner, confirmed to be safe for use.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should check before proceeding.

3

Reply-to address: checked with brand owner, confirmed to be safe for use.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should check before proceeding.

4

Preheader settings: pre-header has been set according to best practice (min. 80 char, full sentences, front load the valuable bits!)

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should update before proceeding.

5

Copy Proofing: no spelling or grammar issues found, tone is brand appropriate

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix before proceeding.

6

Scannability: can you comprehend the key information in this email at a scan?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. Email best practice suggests that it's important to ensure your email's key message can be understood at a scan. If you choose not to apply this practice, be aware it may impact your email's performance.

7

Unsubscribe: The email has a functional unsubscribe link, which you have tested.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. N/A should only be valid if the email is operational. Be confident that unsubscribe will not be required, if in doubt, inclusion is safer.

8

Text Version: A text version of the email has been created, and you have sent yourself a test of the text version.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should test before proceeding.

9

Text Version Optimisation: the layout of the text version has been optimised. No HTML comments are visible, all relevant content is included.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. Auto-generated text versions can be awful to read - it's worth optimising them!

10

Text Version Hyperlinks & UTMS: hyperlinks work & include UTMs, across:

  • header section
  • image areas (if included)
  • body
  • cta(s)
  • footer

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding. Be aware that automatic text versions don't pull through variables reliably! 

11

HTML/Main Version: An HTML / primary version of the email has been created, and you have sent yourself a test of it.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes (unless plain text only). If you cannot answer with a yes you should send yourself a test before proceeding.

12

Images: All images have alt text, and none are broken.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding (unless there are no images).

13

Image Compression: All images were saved for web from your image editing software, and then compressed prior to uploading, and email load time is acceptable.

(note - hero images should be below 120kb, and all smaller images should be smaller! High load times WILL impact performance).

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. All images (if any are used) should be compressed to improve load speed! (See Demand Lab's fantastic guide to image compression

14

HTML Version Hyperlinks & UTMs: hyperlinks work & include UTMs, across:

  • header section
  • images
  • body
  • cta(s)
  • footer

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

 

Yes. Don't send broken links! If you can't answer yes, fix before continuing.

15

Dynamic content: Does your email have dynamic content in it? Have you tested it across multiple scenarios?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should test this before proceeding.

16

Legal requirements:

  • you have not misrepresented any offer
  • any required disclaimers are included in accordance with your compliance environment

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes you should fix and check these before proceeding.

17

Peer reviewed

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, this should be done before you send.

18

Operational sends: has the email been set to operational (meaning it will bypass unsubscribe settings)? If so, do you have a valid reason for this?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / No. If answering with yes, you should have a valid reason for sending as an operational email. If you're not sure, ASK!

19

A/B & Champ/ChallengerTesting: Are you running any champion/challenger testing on the email?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / No. If you're not doing any testing, think about whether you may be missing an opportunity to make some learnings!

20

Client Testing: Have you run the email through your client testing software? (e.g., Litmus or Email on Acid)

  • Any display issues with major email clients have been identified and either corrected or logged as a non-urgent template fix.
  • Any load speed issues have been identified and attempts made to improve.
  • Any subject line/preview line issues have been identified and resolved.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you cannot answer with a yes (unless you don't have testing software) this should be done before you send.

21

Spam Testing: Have you run the email through spam process?

  • Any blacklisting flags are raised for awareness
  • Any inbox placement/email client flags are identified, potential causes sought and attempts to resolve are made.

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes / N/A. If you cannot answer with a yes (unless you don't have testing software) this should be done before you send.

22

Additional Analytics: Does the email have additional analytics code included?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

yes or n/aYes / N/A. If you cannot answer with a yes (unless you don't have additional analytics software) this should be done before you send.

 

Final Checks - BEFORE YOU HIT SEND

Test

Builder Review

Peer Review

Requirement

1

Asset approval: Ensure that finalised program assets and champion/challenger tests are fully approved and have no final changes in draft mode. 

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, this must be done before you send.

2

Smart Campaign accuracy: Do the smart campaigns reference the right assets?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, this must be fixed before you send.

3

Checklist steps: Have all the above checks been completed?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, this should be done before you send.

4

Stakeholder approval: Has the campaign received final sign off from stakeholders?

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date | URL

Yes/No/N/A + notes | Your Name | Today's Date

Yes. If you cannot answer with a yes, this should be done before you send.

 

There you go! It's a lot, but hopefully you can pick some tidbits from the list to help improve your pre-launch testing. Got any important checks that I haven't included? Share them in the comments!

Email is complicated.

 

And surprisingly enough, it's rarely given the attention it deserves - especially considering the foundational role it tends to play in marketing automation. For people who are new to Marketo, or new to email marketing, it can be a hard nut to crack - as I see it, for two main reasons:

  • Email requires a multitude of skill sets - a good email relies on good copywriting, graphic design, UX design, HTML and CSS, analytics, and more.
  • Email is constantly evolving - technology moves quickly, and as email clients, devices, operating systems, deliverability and networks do, so does best practice.

 

If coding isn't really your jam, you don't really find design comes naturally to you, or you're just really stretched (aren't we all?) then getting your head around it all can be a real challenge. But it isn't impossible.

 

The first step is not falling prey to the many myths surrounding email. So, here's a breakdown of five myths I hear (and see in action) most frequently...

 

MYTH #1: EMAIL & WEB DEVELOPMENT ARE THE SAME.

Matrix Code

Nope. Email really is a whole other beast, and will still be a learning curve for those with experience developing for web. There's a reason why people joke that email code looks like it's from the 90s… because a lot of it has to be. Where web typically tests across a handful of browsers, operating systems and screen sizes, there's far more to contend with in email. Litmus estimates that every email send has (conservatively) 15,000 possible renderings (see their exploration of why email rendering is so complex). Just look at:

 

With so many variables, each their own unique and often unpredictable quirks, creating a robust and reliable email email template can be challenging for even the most patient of developers.

 

Key takeaway: If you want truly great, responsive, consistent and on brand emails, you have to be prepared to invest in creating and maintaining them - whether by hiring an experienced email developer or someone with the ability to grow that skill set (combined designer/developer roles are common), training internally, or hiring an experienced third party.

 

 

MYTH #2: I DON'T NEED A CUSTOM EMAIL TEMPLATE

Sherlock shrugging

Well... actually, you probably will. This isn't to say it's something everyone needs out of the gate - but there's a tipping point on the maturity curve where, really, you probably do need to invest in designing and developing a bespoke email template.

 

Marketo's starter templates are called “starter” templates for a reason. After a while you'll probably start to find them limiting, and frustrating. But frustration is good - it means you've developed a sense of what you do and don't want in a template; from a design perspective, and from an in-editor usability perspective. The particular needs of each use case are entirely unique - and the best way to meet them is with a custom template.

 

Your in editor experience is critically dependent on your email template - the vast majority of complaints I've heard about the editor are not the result of inherent flaws in the editor itself, but problems with the template. Going custom can enable you to...

  • Fully customise the look and feel of your emails;
  • Run all your emails on a single “master” template (making updates much easier) by including a variety of flexible modules (see: Add Modules to your Email - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation);
  • Utilise Marketo's email syntax to enable greater in-editor experience;
  • Include My Tokens to maximise efficiency and ensure consistency;

… and much, much more.

 

But: make sure either you or the developer/third party you work with is specifically experienced in Marketo. You'll get the best results by considering not just best practice dev, but also in-editor usability - someone with strong experience is more likely to have a good sense of where modules should start and end, which kind of Marketo variables (see: Email Template Syntax - Marketo Docs - Product Documentation) are best suited in different spots, which sections may need to cater to dynamic content, etc.

 

Key takeaway: Don't expect starter templates to cater to advanced use cases, and do expect to invest in a custom template at some point - just get it done by someone experienced, and expect the template to be continuously added to and evolved over time.

 

 

MYTH #3: OUR EMAILS WILL LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THE DESIGN

Michael Scott from The Office tearing up

We wish it were so... Unfortunately, unless your designer(s) are familiar with the ins and outs of HTML & CSS support in email, or you're okay with emails being completely image based (hint: you shouldn't be) then… yeah. No.

 

If you're looking at creating a custom template, or even just working on a custom element within a single campaign, it's really beneficial to ensure the designer knows the complexities of email, or that they're in close contact with someone who does. Even better if they're the one who will develop the template. Not only will it save you a lot of time (and potentially money) in revisions at the end of the process, it'll also save a lot of disappointment if people fall in love with a concept that can't reasonably be executed, or simply isn't best practice.

 

Now - none of this is to say that your emails can't be beautifully designed. It's more to say that you'll benefit from being mindful of what limitations exist - and how you can work around (or with) them. For example…


Limitation:
Not all clients accept custom fonts.

Best Practice Solution:
Provide custom fonts for the clients that can accept them, with closest possible resemblance fallbacks for those that can't. Avoid or minimise heavily stylised fonts where possible (both for legibility and fallback reasons). In cases where a specific font is really important, images (with alt text!) can be used, but should always be kept to an absolute minimum (preferably headlines only) - live text is always preferred.

 

Progressive enhancement is always good to be thinking about here: just because 20% of your audience are using a client that doesn't support a feature doesn't mean you shouldn't enable it for the other 80%. Provide those features to those whose clients do support them, and make sure the fallback is graceful for those whose clients don't. So… It's also helpful to know what your database's client split is (Gmail, Outlook, etc)! It'll start to dictate what features you work hard to enable, vs which you avoid like the plague.

 

Key takeaway: involve email/dev experts in the design process, and aim for a balance of what's practically achievable and what's beautiful - but always within the context of how email clients are actually represented in your database.

 

 

MYTH #4: SENDING A SAMPLE TO ME + A COLLEAGUE = TESTING

Matt Damon in The Martian making stuff explode

It's... not a particularly rigorous test. While it's better than nothing, if this is all the testing you're doing, you're probably missing a lot. We've already covered here how complex email is, and how many different possible renderings a single email can have. If you're using Outlook 2016 on Windows and your colleague is using Gmail on Chrome, you're only looking at a tiny tiny percentage of the possibilities - and it's entirely possible that you're not looking at the clients that are most heavily represented in your database.

 

In an ideal scenario it'd be every email you send - but at least every template, and any emails with custom dev, at a minimum of 1x test per month - should be tested using email testing software (Email on Acid and Litmus are two of the key players in the market here).

 

There's a few major benefits to this (though they'll vary according to tool/subscription)...

 

You can test...Why this matters...
How your emails look across a large number of clients.It gives you the opportunity to fix those breaks and ensure your emails look consistently good.
Whether your subject line and preview text are following best practice, and be able to preview how they appear in different clients.Identifying issues here can directly impact your open rate.
How your email looks in text only, with images disabled, and for colour blind users.Accessibility is becoming increasingly important in email, with many suggesting it will quickly become a critical factor in deliverability and compliance.
How long your email will take to load for most users, and be able to see the size of each individual file.Load speed can have a significant impact on the overall performance of your email, so checking your file size and ensuring you're using appropriate file formats, compression, and scaling settings is not only massively important, it's also actually pretty easy. Check out this guide from Demand Lab.
Whether your emails are at risk getting flagged as spam due to missing/incorrect settings, content, sender reputation or IP issues.Deliverability is complex (check out Send Grid's guide for some insight). While these tools are not always going to be perfect, they'll help you keep tabs on whether things are going wrong and can also help you get a sense of why.

 

...and plenty more!


With the right subscription and tool, you can also use additional analytics to get more insights into what clients are most heavily represented in your database, and how people are engaging with your emails.

 

Key takeaway: if you're not using an email testing tool, you may be sending broken or sub-optimal emails without realising it - a relatively small investment in a testing tool could improve your email performance and increase your confidence & performance significantly.

 

 

MYTH #5: I DON'T NEED TO KNOW ANY OF THIS.

I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, it's because you're interested in creating great emails - if so, you should definitely know these things.

 

Email is complex and constantly changing - but for many of us that's part of what makes it kinda fun. You don't need to be an expert in all of the above, but you having at least a peripheral and conceptual understanding of both what they entail and why they matter will help you make major strides towards creating great emails, every time.

 

Jeff Goldblum clapping

 

 

BONUS TIPS!

Because I can't end a post about email without mentioning some of these other points...

  • Don't expect to copy+paste your HTML from a past system into Marketo and have everything work like magic. Every email editor - including Marketo's - has specific requirements in order to enable functions. Marketo's syntax is simple and powerful - and you'll notice the difference if it's missing!
  • Don't edit the code of individual emails! Editing the code (outside of editable areas) breaks emails from their templates, and prevents any template updates from being applied to them.
  • Minimise the number of templates you have. Creating a new template for every product, every channel, or every send? Chances are, you're missing a major opportunity to optimise.
  • Use Tokens! If you're not utilising tokens within your emails - especially My Tokens - start! They're a great way to control things like brand colours, unsubscribe links, copyright dates, legal disclaimers, etc. But...
  • Test your tokens! Don't be the person who sends emails that say “Hi DUMMY.”
  • Be cautious with velocity script if you're not familiar with it. Velocity is an incredibly powerful way to enable awesome functionality in marketo. But with great power, comes great responsibility… use it carefully!
  • Ask Community for help - within reason. Community is a great resource for advice and support, but don't forget that this is a volunteer community of users! Ask for help pinpointing problems, advice on best practices, but don't expect people to develop whole modules or provide complete strategies.
  • Help community help you! If you're looking for help from community, you're more likely to get assistance quickly if you provide as much information as possible from the get go - including screenshots and full code where relevant.

 

P.S. Enormous thanks to the fab minds that contributed to this post, especially Juli James, Sydney Mulligan, Courtney Grimes, Josh Pickles & Amber Hobson.

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