5-step email checklist to maximize your email marketing ROI

Sean Cho Sean Cho
· 11 min read · May 19th, 2021
Email marketing provides one of the highest ROIs among all marketing channels—are you sure you're doing everything you can to maximize returns? WIth this checklist, you'll have your bases covered!

Email’s future for marketers is looking rosy: email users are increasing, newsletter signups are rising, and email marketing is expected to grow exponentially. Plus, it still boasts the best ROI of $42 on every marketing dollar that you spend!

You can enjoy these glowing email marketing statistics, too, as long as you regularly clean your subscriber list and email content. By removing email deliverability red flags before you send, you are maximizing your ROI.

Use this 5-step email marketing checklist to overcome email anxiety, reduce errors and deliver a smoother workflow. Customers will get a better brand experience—and happy customers mean a healthy, growing email list!

Step 1. Review your subscribers

First, let’s set up your email campaigns for success by reviewing the one thing that they depend on—subscribers! Improve your email engagement by removing people that shouldn’t be on your mailing list and segment your list to deliver targeted messages.

Verify your email list

When was the last time you took a good look at your email list? Sometimes we focus on growing the list, forgetting that it’s the quality and not the quantity that matters. Continuing to email cold subscribers will hurt your sending reputation!

The quality of your subscribers will change over time. Some will move to other newsletters while others mark your emails as spam in frustration. Then there are emails that soft bounce due to spam filters or hard bounce because of invalid emails.

Remember: Inactive email addresses may be repurposed into spam traps. Contact these addresses without consideration and you may land in a blocklist from which it is very difficult to leave.

If you keep sending emails to inactive subscribers, you’ll face lower delivery and open rates along with high bounce rates. ISPs like Gmail and Outlook will notice your low engagement rates and your ability to land in the inbox will suffer.

Use a tool like MailerCheck to clean your list of invalid email addresses, including bounced emails, typo errors, and catch-all domains. Your list will be smaller but you should get higher open and click rates, more accurate email marketing metrics, and a better ROI!

Inbox Insights report

Segment your subscribers

As your email list grows, you’ll soon realize that one size doesn’t fit all. Your subscribers have different interests, habits and needs. And they’re likely to reside in different countries. A mass newsletter sent to everyone will not meet those needs.

Readers will pay attention when you cover topics they care about. You’ll enjoy better open rates and click-through rates if you send emails to smaller groups of people. Personalizing your messaging to specific people is called email list segmentation

If you segment your email list into less active and highly engaged subscribers, for example, you can offer incentives or encourage active readers to share content while re-engaging inactive subscribers with a win-back email campaign.

MailerLite email list segmentation

Step 2. Write great subject lines

The next step is to make subscribers open your newsletters! You’ve worked hard to build your perfect email. But other emails in the inbox are competing for attention and you need to pique their interest with a catchy subject line and preheader text.

Elements of great subject lines

Personalize the subject line to make a connection with the reader by using their name, location or interests. Then make it relevant to your audience based on their needs or interests. Experiment to find a subject line that works best with A/B testing.

MailerLite personalized subject line
Here’s an entire guide dedicated to writing subject lines that enjoy higher open rates. The best subject line gives the reader a good reason to open your email.

Pair it with preheader text

As a rule of thumb, keep your subject line limited to 40 characters. This way it will display on narrow mobile screens. You can also take advantage of preheader text to give people even more reasons to open your email—tell readers what’s in it for them!

Email preheader text examples

Review and test it with ISPs

Your efforts to land in the inbox will backfire if you’re using unsupported emoji like 🖾 or if personalized variables like {$name} make an unwanted appearance in the subject line. Send a test email to free accounts that you have with major ISPs.

Step 3. Check your email content

This is the most critical part of the email newsletter checklist. Your email content can raise deliverability red flags that prevent it from being delivered. Plus, shoddy editing and glaring mistakes can hurt the customer experience and your brand. 😞

You could perform manual checks with every campaign. But if you’re sending regular emails, the workflow can get repetitive and time-consuming. A smarter alternative is to analyze your campaigns with a tool like MailerCheck’s Inbox Insights.

Proofread your email

If you don’t have time to read through your email then at least perform a spelling and grammar check in Google Docs or Grammarly. These tools are not foolproof but the most obvious mistakes like variances in American and British spelling will be caught.

Grammarly in action

Images and links

The reader clicks open to read the content that you promised them. But wait! They’re seeing placeholders instead of funny GIFs while your links are showing 404 pages. 😱 Avoid this scenario by using Inbox Insights to check links for you, including ALT text.

Inbox Insights links and images validation

Spammy words and symbols

Avoid spam filters by staying clear of spam-like behavior like using red text formatting, WRITING IN ALL CAPS, and excessive use of exclamation marks‼️ Inbox Insights will help you identify spam-like words like these in your content.

Inbox Insights content check

Clear call to action

If you want your reader to do something, make it clear with one call to action (CTA) in your email. Design the CTA button using a prominent size and color, along with CTA button text that starts with an action word like the example below.

King Arthur Baking CTA button example

Include social share buttons

Sharing is caring! Social media buttons act as a secondary call to action. Your primary CTA takes center stage but the social buttons are there in the footer to encourage readers to follow or share the content with other social media users.

King Arthur Baking social media sharing example

Step 4. Comply with email laws

Your email list will most likely contain subscribers from the European Union (EU) and the United States. If so, international email laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the CAN-SPAM Act will apply to you.

The GDPR gives EU residents control over their personal data and how others are allowed to use their data. Specifically, people have the right to delete and download their own data, request a personal data report, and be notified of breaches.

For US readers, the CAN-SPAM Act says you should not use email headers or write subject lines that will mislead people. A postal address should be included in your email and people must have a way to unsubscribe like The Hustle’s newsletter. 💔

The Hustle newsletter footer example

Step 5. Run a technical checkup

After all the talk about email lists and content, it’s now time to run some practical tests. The aim here is to make sure that your emails are delivered and displayed correctly across different ISPs, devices and web browsers.

Check HTML validity

HTML emails can display differently depending on the browser, device or operating system. Poorly formed code can trip up email clients, so remove any surprises by analyzing your HTML code with Inbox Insights for tags that are no longer in use.

Inbox Insights HTML validation

Mobile responsive design

Your email should be readable on both desktops and mobile devices. Scrolling about to read an email formatted for a desktop screen is painful! Email templates from ESPs like MailerLite and MailerSend are designed with this best practice in mind.

MailerSend responsive template example

Dark mode theme

Dark mode themes are popular for users who work in dim light conditions or prefer less glare. Check to see how email elements like text, graphics and social media icons are displayed with a dark background like Deliveroo’s example below. 😎

Deliveroo dark mode email example

Include a plain text version

Make your emails accessible by including a plain text version. Some people prefer skimming through text emails while others use them together with screen readers. Also, smartwatches will fallback to plain text emails for their tiny screens!

Plain text email example

Authenticate your sending domain

Your sending domain should be authenticated with DKIM and SPF records that protect you from email impersonators. Inbox Insights takes an extra step to check your DKIM signature to stop people from sending emails pretending to be you.

Inbox Insights DKIM analysis

Start sending with confidence

Now that you have a 5-step preflight checklist, you can send your email marketing campaigns with confidence and maximize your ROI. Remember, regular cleaning of your email lists and campaign content with the right tools is your ticket to success!

Did you make any changes to your email marketing that resulted in a higher ROI? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Sean Cho
I’m Sean, Content Writer at The Remote Company. I like to keep things neat, clean and tidy—including my inbox! My latest craze is to fill up my home with tropical plants of all sizes.