You can check out all the particulars tomorrow, but here are five tips based on trends from the 2008 class of the Oopsy Hall of Fame:
1. SUBJECT LINES. Once again subject lines proved to be fertile ground for oopsies, which is unfortunate since they play such a strong role in determining whether the recipient goes on to open and engage with the email. Mistakes ranged from misspellings -- like "Memoiral Day," "Thanksgivinig" and "shipping upgade" -- to poor grammar to subject lines that didn't totally match up with the content of the email.
Some marketers are clearly leaving the subject line till last, writing it just before the email goes out. Develop subjects line in parallel with the body content and be sure to spell-check them. Working on them earlier in the process will give you more time to notice mistakes.
2. PREHEADERS. Preheaders surged in popularity during 2008, becoming a new area to double-check for errors. Make sure that the preheader message is in sync with the final body copy and the subject line. For instance, if your subject line mentions six new products and your preheader message mentions five new products, check the body copy to see which is right.
3. BROKEN LINKS. Based on the number of times that I stumble across broken links, this remains a serious problem. Broken links torpedo your conversion rates and are the ultimate in user-unfriendliness. Check every link in your email -- which will also call your attention to out-of-stock and discontinued products that you might be promoting in your email.
The next step after insuring that all your links are functional is to optimize your landing pages, which can deliver further conversion improvements.
4. IMAGE ALIGNMENT. I saw a ton of missing and misaligned images last year. Nothing stands out more in an email that those infamous red Xs and images that don't meet up correctly. While this is probably mostly due to sloppy coding, it may also be due to poor...
5. RENDERING ACROSS PLATFORMS. If you're not using a rendering tool to verify that your emails are rendering consistently across all the major email platforms, at least set up some test accounts at the major ISPs to send test emails to. As the Email Standards Project makes clear, support for CSS and HTML varies across platforms. And while 2008 gave email coders Gmail Themes to deal with, 2009 will likely give us MySpace Mail (and one assumes, Facebook Mail at some point). These new email platforms will surely throw new curveballs at email designers and coders. The fact that I continue to see "-----Inline Attachment Follows-----" errors in some emails in Yahoo Classic Mail more than six months after pointing them out is proof that email marketers aren't paying enough attention to how their emails render across platforms.
As the first month of the new year winds down, resolve to improve your processes, fail-safes and pre-flight checklists. Here's to a smaller class for the 2009 Oopsy Hall of Fame.