Email Marketing Checklist

The Dos and Don’ts and What to Look For

An email seems simple enough, but I’ve quality controlled hundreds of email marketing campaigns and I’ve yet to review a perfect first draft; which is why I developed an email marketing quality control checklist. I don’t know about you, but that looming “send now” button launching it to your list of 5,000 subscribers gives me anxiety. Reviewing emails is like a game of hide and seek for finding all the inconsistencies and mistakes. Trust me. They’re there. And once you press that send button, it’s done and there’s no going back … kind of like a permanent tattoo.

Reviewing emails is like a game of hide and seek for finding all the inconsistencies and mistakes. (Tweet this!)

[icon size=”tiny” image=”icon-arrow-right”] Sidenote (aka tangent): Check out these terrible tattoo typos, yikes!

So save yourself the grief and embarrassment from the grammar police. Yep, been there, done that. It never fails to have a checklist and standard quality assurance process in place to ensure consistency and accuracy. I have the checklist printed out, laminated and I use a dry erase marker to check it off each time I review an email. It also works with reviewing blog posts or white papers.

Where to Start

Firstly, if you’re using an email service provider such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Exact Target, you must be aware that there are various quirks and glitches that are unique and specific to each one. Certain service providers also have a tendency to introduce new errors into your email, so make sure to use that checklist! (I’ll save that ramble for another blog post). For example, Constant Contact does not support the “m” dash (—). Why? Not sure. Customer service told me it is because it “is a made up symbol.” Hmm… that’s strange. It’s in the Chicago Manual of Style and all grammar books for that matter. But, I digress…

In addition, it is important to know that emails look different on different browsers. The formatting, spacing or even fonts can differ. And unfortunately, you cannot control which browser or device your audience will be viewing these emails in (Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, iPhone, etc.). However, the one thing you can control is your ability to test and preview the email in every browser.

Finally, (as if it’s not enough already) did you know that emails also look different in each email service? If you’re creating an email in a basic template with minimal customization, then most of the time it’s not a problem. But when you get into emails with custom HTML, imagery, design elements or different font colors, then it can get a little tricky. I’ve found that Outlook doesn’t play nicely with HTML emails, so beware! I’ve also been known to have a few fights with Outlook before…

What to Look For

I’ve outlined some general things to look for when reviewing your email campaigns. You can also download my email marketing quality control checklist to print, laminate and start using yourself. I hope it becomes your new best friend.


  • Line spacing – Check to make sure all the spacing between paragraphs or lists is consistent.
  • “Curly” quotations and apostrophes – A quick way to spot these guys is to find (ctrl+f) and replace.
  • Links – Make sure all links are working or not forwarding to the wrong URL. Quick tip: I like to have links open into a new tab or window so the viewer doesn’t getting taken off the page.
  • Spell check – Don’t forget! It’s so easy to click the button.
  • Alignment – Are you using images, have a list or a pull quote? Make sure they are aligned or indented properly. Quick tip: When using aligned images (right, left, or center), remember to add padding to the image so the text isn’t flush against the image.
  • Images – Be sure the ‘alt tag’ relates to the picture and doesn’t just say “image.jpg.” Also, adding a caption (when appropriate) to the picture helps with SEO.
  • Preview Test – Make sure to check BOTH the web version and the email version.

What are “curley” quotes and apostrophes? Why, I’m glad you asked.

curly vs straight


  • Font – Make sure the fonts are consistent. If you’re using Arial for the titles and Times New Roman for the body text, make sure to keep it the same throughout.
  • Color – If you are using a special color for links, titles or headers, then make sure everything is consistent.
  • Size – Again, just make sure everything is consistent.
  • Browser Link – Make sure to include a browser link so that someone can click on the web version in case it didn’t load properly in their email.

open in a new browser


Content – Make sure you have all the paragraphs and sentences!

  • Timeliness – Make sure that you are not referencing something on June 4, 2013 and then you blast the email late October.
  • Date/Time/Location – If you’re promoting an upcoming event, be sure to use the correct information in the correct time zone! Ah, I must admit, I am guilty on this one…
  • Subject line – Make it compelling enough so someone will click on it. Remember this is going to someone’s email so keep it short too. Don’t put the whole body of the email in the subject line!
  • From line – Double check! I’ve received emails that say “TESTING” in them.

Don’t do this, please:


Contact Information

  • Address – Make sure this is correct and not your billing address. Sometimes the billing address can show up if that’s how you filled out your account information when signing up.
  • Phone Numbers – Are any numbers inverted? Double check!
  • Copyright – Make sure this is up to date and doesn’t say 2010.

Details in Footer


  • Share links – Remember to turn this feature on or off depending on the email. For example, if it is an invite-only invitation, then turn it off.
  • Social media links – Check that all the links go to the correct page.
  • Blog Sign up – Be sure to add your blog subscription or some other call-to-action where people can subscribe and continue to get similar emails or announcements.

The share links allows people to share the email onto their own social media profiles and promote your email.



  • Unsubscribe form – Make sure the design of the forms match the design of your email.
  • Subscribe form – If you’re using private groups, make sure the form doesn’t list them. There is a hidden field in Mailchimp where you can hide the private groups so people don’t see them.

I don’t think people would appreciate being labeled in the “Client C” category…


Don’t forget to get your free checklist!

Okay, so I know this list can be somewhat overwhelming and it takes practice to remember to look for all these things. There are so many moving parts and as I mentioned earlier, a lot of the errors are just hiding. Complete our signup below to download my email marketing quality control checklist and avoid any overlooked errors in your next email campaign. Also send us any tips you may have and share them in the comments. Thanks!