Testing and quality assurance are key parts of the email process and should be a standard procedure, but are marketers including them?

We all make mistakes.

Throughout our daily lives, we cannot do everything perfectly. Just whilst writing this article I’ve fallen afoul of the spell-check, re-written an entire paragraph after some much-appreciated feedback, and spilt coffee in my lap.

And prepare to be shocked, even us at Taxi get things wrong. The eagle eyed amongst you who receive our newsletter (if you don’t, go subscribe and don’t let what I’m about to say put you off) may have noticed that a couple of mistakes crept into the latest edition. No heads rolled, no one was hounded through the street having ‘SHAME!’ yelled at them; these things can just happen.

Whilst the occasional mistake happens, it’s responsible to make sure that you try your best to spot them and fix them before they are released to the wider world.

However at a recent email industry event, the audience was asked a simple question; How many of them tested their email before sending it? Less than 20% of the room said they did.

Testing and Quality Assessment (QA) protect the brand

A lot can be said for a mistake-free, well-built and fully-functional email. It helps establish that your brand is not only legitimate, but also reliable and trustworthy. You need this solid base in order to allow for creativity.

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Your testing and QA process is basically like having these guys around to protect your brand from mistakes... sort of...

Consider if you received a badly-broken or structured email; you may immediately dismiss it or even consider it spam. The same could be said for emails containing spelling and grammatical errors. And then if the same brand sent you another email, you’d associate it with the mistakes and then potentially dismiss it before ever reading it. That brand has lost its ability to reach you.

So with that in mind, let’s instead examine the reasons behind why the majority of those asked sent emails out without a testing or QA process.

Teams have limited resources to test email

An effective testing and QA round requires additional resources. These cost both time and money, and are luxuries marketers tend to lack.

For example, other team members are drawn in to QA the work (in a ‘2 sets of eyes’ policy) and identify mistakes such as spelling and grammatical errors, broken links, and correct design rendering. This requires them to be away from their projects, but they may not have the capacity to do so, leaving you shorthanded.

Marketers don't have enough time to pursue a proper QA process

Teams under tight deadlines might not have enough hours in the day to fully render test their emails. Pressure to produce more email, or to include more complex features within the email itself (feeds, personalisation etc), also take up time. Often, the elongated QA process is viewed as a hurdle which simply can't be got around to.

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Marketers are used to working against the clock, but limited time is a large contributor to the lack of a testing and QA process

Teams can suffer from frustratingly complex and slow processes

Lengthy, over complicated and over-manned testing and QA processes can lead to frustration and genuine stress for marketers and ultimately create a desire to avoid it altogether.

Trying to change an embedded process with little support can also cause frustration. The testing and QA process has many stakeholders, so this makes implementing a change process complicated and full of blockers. Besides, those who aren’t actively pushing the overall project forward (e.g. proofreaders) may be comfortable in having done things the same way for ages, as they aren’t ultimately responsible for its outcome.

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Frustration can cause marketers stress and can sometimes even de-rail projects. Pencils are also a common victim when this happens.

Tips to help make the testing and QA process easier

Marketers who don’t test their emails are not doing it out of choice, or sheer ignorance. They are challenged by a lack of resources and time. Is there a route out of the middle of the rock and the hard place they find themselves stuck between?

Here are Taxi’s tips to try and give marketers some wiggle room in this confined space.

  • Set deadlines for QA. Involving others in a process can lead to delays if unchecked, due to busy schedules. So setting deadlines from the outset for returning their corrections and amends, and chasing them, can help keep your own work schedule on track.
  • Agreeing a limitation on amendment and testing rounds. Whilst you need to get things right, sometimes changes can be made for the sake of making a change. Setting out a limit of amendment rounds makes sure that each round is completed with more scrutiny and unnecessary changes are avoided.
  • Make a checklist for testing. There are many common elements that need testing in an email. Basic things like links, image resolution and branding should be checked as standard. Also more complex features like personalisation, media and feeds should be considered - even if they are used less frequently.

Testing and QA-ing emails is crucial, but is often a strain on marketers. You can do a couple of things to help ease the effort and shorten the time, but the main thing is to make sure that testing and the QA process is included and steps are taken to ensure your emails go out mistake-free (as much as you can!).

Taxi helps you systematically remove opportunities to make mistakes from the process of making email. Get in touch to find out more.


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