Checklist: what makes an email a good email?

As we all know, strong content is king. But use it in an email that’s not well-constructed, and all your efforts will be in vain. Your email will end up deleted or maybe even worse… ignored.

But how do you know when you have the ideal email format for your content? Testing is crucial. We’ll get you started with this hands-on email checklist.

1. Use an active subject line.
Nobody opens an email with a dull (or no) subject line, so this is a no-brainer. Try using questions to arouse curiosity and be clear about the content and purpose of the email.

2. Make smart use of images.
Images can make the email more appealing and scanable, but remember to keep a good text/image ratio to avoid showing an empty email when the images are not displayed.

3. Use (sub)titles and bulleted text.
As you certainly know, every new email is quickly scanned to look for the advantages of that campaign. It’s a matter of seconds. Make sure to use titles and bulleted text to help your recipients to easily absorb the message you want to bring across.

4. Make sure you shout your call to action. 
Make your call to action stand out from the rest of the email by using buttons, color, different placement or text treatment.  It‘s the main purpose of the email, so make sure it‘s the easiest part to find.

5. Offer them a social “escape”. 
Maybe your readers want to stay in touch, but prefer another medium than email. Make that possible by showing them the way to your FB, Twitter or Linked-in page, using the standard icons. And why not offer your followers and likes an extra incentive to do so?

6. Contact information.
Very obvious, but very often overlooked. Act attainable and give your receivers the chance to contact you. Don’t use a no-reply address and have a clear “contact me” or feedback button they can easily locate.

7. Allow them to unsubscribe.
It’s not only legally required, but also an ideal way to automatically clean your database from disinterested receivers. And it gives your recipients a sense of control. You’ll see your deliverability score go up if readers click on this link instead of the spam button.

8. Testing, testing and… testing.
We know, we’ve maybe ranted about this a zillion times, but you simply can’t make a checklist for email marketing without this one. With the numerous testing options — A/B testing, multivariate testing, rendering tests with new and mobile email clients, etc. — it would be a crying shame to see your email go down the drain, because you didn’t bother…


Use this (non-exhaustive) list to make sure you don’t forget a basic email asset. Checked 8 times? Excellent! But don’t forget to keep up the good work for each and every campaign you send out. Got a killer tip of your own? Let us know by simply replying to this email.

Posted on
Sep 18, 2015