A week ago you signed up for your mailing list using a virgin email address. (You didn’t? Maybe you should do that today – there’s no time like Thursday for a quick sanity check!)
Check the mailbox for the account you signed up
- Is the mail you signed up for in the inbox? In the bulk folder? If it’s in the bulk folder, that’s something to look at – all the normal reputation, content and technical correctness details – but it’s also a sign that encouraging recipients to add your From address to their address book is well worth doing.
- Is there no mail at all? Check if there’s been a mailing sent out in the past week. If there has, and the mail to you mysteriously vanished then there’s an obvious problem to track down – time to start looking at delivery logs.
- If there hasn’t been a mailing in the past week then that might be a problem too – if a recipient doesn’t receive mail fairly soon after signing up then they’re less likely to recognise it as something they signed up for, so it might get reported as spam, they might not pull it out of a bulk folder, and it won’t become something they expect to receive. Even if you send mail out monthly, consider whether your content is such that sending a copy of the previous mailing to new sign-ups might be appropriate when they sign up soon after a monthly mailing.
- Look at the mail in the inbox, where you can see just the subject line, the “friendly from” and maybe the real From address. Do the friendly from and the subject line between them provide enough branding that a recipient will recognise it as coming from you? Does the subject line make it clear what the mail is about, and entice you to open it? Now resize your mail client or web browser to be just half the width of your screen and ask the same questions.
- Is there mail from anyone else in the inbox or bulk folder? As it’s a newly created email account with a hard to guess address it’s unlikely there’ll be any random spam there, so all the mail should be due to your signup. Is there mail from anyone you don’t recognise there? From anyone a typical recipient wouldn’t recognise as being you?
- Open the mail (finally!)
- Are the images displayed? If so, congratulations! Your mail looks trustworthy to the freemail provider. More likely, they won’t be displayed – which is great, as we can look at the mail without them. Does the mail make sense without images? Is it branded well enough without images that you can recognise it? Is the content all readable without images? Is it interesting enough that you’ll click to show images?
- If there are ALT tags displayed in place of images, do they make sense? (More on this in the next few days).
- Is the message CAN-SPAM compliant?
- Is there an obvious contact method in the mail? Try it – does it work? Does it get a reply? What happens if you just hit “reply” and ask a question – does it bounce? Do you get a reply?
- Add the From address used by the mailing to your address book. How obvious was it how to do that? Do you need to walk your recipients through the process?
- Make a note in your calendar to come back here for part 3 on Thursday August 12th and part 4 on Thursday October 7th
(Lots of brief bullet points there. If you need more details on any bit ask in the comments, and we might do a full post on that.)