In Create a Message (MD2), you learned how to use the Message Designer to create and configure a message; in this article, we'll focus on the designer's Review & Send tab, which is your final stop before sending your message. Here, you'll have the chance to check the look and feel of your content, test your personalizations, and ultimately send your message to your targeted contacts.
Before we begin...
There's more to sending a message than simply configuring a few options and selecting a group of contacts. There are numerous deliverability best practices and pre-send tasks to consider before ever clicking Send, such as:
- sending your message to yourself and/or your colleagues for review and testing;
- performing a virtual inbox test to check whether your message passes various email client's spam filters.
Only after performing these tasks do we recommend sending a message to your contacts. In this article, we'll walk through these pre-send tasks, as well as the process to send a message to a group of contacts, so you feel comfortable with the overall methodology and process of having your messages delivered successfully.
Best practices: Deliverability
The ultimate goal when sending a message is to, of course, have it delivered. Prior to any message landing in someone's inbox, email clients employ a spam filter to evaluate whether that message meets a set of standards. Let's look at some of the best practices you can employ in your messages to give them the best chance of delivery.
- Avoid excessive punctuation, caps, hyphens, etc. in the body and subject line of your message.
- Avoid using third-party link-shortening tools such as bit.ly or tinyurl. Because a lot of spammers use these free tools in an attempt to hide their spam links, many email clients now flag these types of links.
- Avoid "exposed" URLs (i.e., simply pasting a full link in the message); instead, "embed" your URLs in text and images.
- Avoid common spam trigger words/phrases in the body and subject line. While this is fairly nuanced in practice, you should avoid words like "free!" and phrases like "work from home"; ultimately, if it sounds like something a spammer or scammer would say, try to keep it out of your messages. With that said, there is some flexibility here, and simply including the word "free" doesn't automatically mean your message won't be delivered.
- Avoid too little text in the body of your message. A common reason this occurs is the use of excessive images. Spam filters flag emails with too little text, so messages that comprise mostly images tend to be flagged. This can be tricky, as many organization employ graphic designers who produce wonderful images for use in their email campaigns, and while we support (and encourage) the use of high-quality imagery to bolster your messages, it's important to have a balance of images and text.
- Include alt-text for all of your images. This is especially important if you plan to include a lot of images. This not only helps you comply with accessibility standards but also gives spam filters additional text to evaluate.
Check Content sub-tab
The Check Content sub-tab gives you the chance to review the look and feel of your message before you send it.
You can review three different versions of your message: Desktop, Mobile, and Text. Click the dropdown at the top right to switch between and view these different versions, ensuring you see exactly how each version looks before you send your message.
Run the Personalization Test to ensure that all message recipients have valid personalization field values in your message.
NOTE: You can only check personalization values in your account; integration values cannot be tested.
Virtual Inbox Test
The Virtual Inbox Test provides two services:
- It allows you to see how your message will look in various email environments (desktop, web, and mobile) and email clients (gmail, Outlook, etc.).
- It checks whether your message passes the spam filter test, which scans your message for common spam triggers.
TIP: You can learn how to avoid common spam triggers in the Best Practices: Deliverability section earlier in this article.
After running the test, this area updates to display three categories of email clients: desktop, mobile, and webmail.
- Click the arrows on the right to expand the categories and view which email clients were tested.
- Click Failed tests and Passed tests in the left panel to see which email clients failed the spam filter test and which ones passed. If any tests fail, we recommend reviewing your message to see if there are any aspects you can improve, such as having a balance of text and images, removing "exposed URLs" and common spam words, etc.
NOTE: It may take a few minutes for the test to complete; you can continue to work as the test is running, and results will auto-update in real-time as results are compiled.
Also, you can run this test multiple times, with each set of results saved for future reference. To view them, click the dropdown and select a test (you may have to click Back to view this menu).
TIP: Virtual Inbox Test is run on a variety of desktop, mobile, and webmail email clients. To see a list of the email clients that are currently included, visit the Email on Acid "active email clients" page, scroll down, and click to view the full client list.
Get Feedback sub-tab
The Get Feedback sub-tab allows you to gather feedback from your colleagues before you send your message to your contacts.
This is an important step, as your peers and colleagues can often provide critical feedback – perhaps one of your peers is a subject matter expert on the message's topic – or catch something you may have missed during your own review.
Three feedback options are available:
Send Test enables you to send your message to yourself and/or specific individuals before it goes to your contacts.
- Click the Test Recipients menu to select a test group or a list of email addresses for your test.
- Enter a message to add to your subject line in the Prepend to Subject field. Additionally, enter a recipient email address for all test replies.
- When ready, click Send Mail Test.
Send for Review
The Send for Review option lets you gather feedback.
- Click the first menu to select a test group or a list of email addresses for your review.
- Enter a Due Date and Instructions for your reviewers in the corresponding fields.
- Check the Include test message in invitation box if you'd like to send a test message along with your reviewer invitation.
- Use the Email Comments to the Author, Send an Email to the Reviewer, and Send a Due Date Reminder to Each Reviewer to fine-tune the properties for your review message.
- Finally, click Send for Review to finish.
An email message will be sent to the test group or the list of email addresses that you specified in step 1 (above), and a copy will be sent to you.
The message indicates the name of the message to be reviewed, when the review period ends, and a link to the message in the Reviewer tool.
NOTE: When the review period ends, you'll receive a message with a list of the reviewers' comments.
Information for your reviewers
If you're going to have others reviewing your email messages, it's a good idea to:
- Inform your reviewers of your request, especially if they are new to your account and unfamiliar with your review procedures.
- Refer your reviewers to instructions on how to use the Reviewer tool.
- Notify your reviewers that the review-request email message will be from Reviews@informz.net; this should prevent them assuming it's spam and deleting it.
Click this option to see how many contacts will receive your message.
The Send area at the bottom of the page gives you everything you need to get your message sent and into your contacts' inboxes.
You have several scheduling options for your message:
- Send Message Now
- Schedule One-Time
- Daily or Weekly
When you select an option, the page expands to let you fine-tune your selection.
Additionally, you'll have several different delivery methods:
When you've set all your message options, click Schedule Message at the bottom of the page to send.
The Auto Resend feature enables you to easily and automatically resend a message to contacts who did not open the original message. You must configure this option while creating a (original) message; it cannot be set up after a message has been sent.
Learn all about the Auto Resend feature.