Last-Minute Holiday Emails: Don’t Skip Pre-Deployment Testing

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Your email marketing team had its entire holiday promo plan in place back in July. Yet somehow, it still feels like a rush to get all those emails out the door this time of year – especially if you work for an eCommerce company. 

Holiday email campaigns will be more important than ever in 2020. Due in part to the ongoing pandemic, online shopping over the season is expected to grow significantly. Research from Deloitte indicates an increase in online holiday sales of 25% to 35%. More people than ever are skipping the mall and shopping from the comfort of home. 

Your brand’s emails have an important job to do. They help cut through all the seasonal noise and drive traffic to your website. That’s especially true if you’re enhancing campaigns with personalization, engaging visuals, and interactive content.  

However, what happens if you put together an amazing campaign only to have it render incorrectly to a percentage of your subscribers?  

Not only will you land on the “Naughty List,” you could also cost your company significant sales at one of the most critical times of the year. Here are six things to watch for as you perform last-minute, pre-send checks: 

1. Inbox flops 

According to the marketing experts at Convince and Convert, more than a third of people say they open emails based on the subject line alone. The pre-header or preview text is a close cousin to subject lines that sometimes gets overlooked. But it can make the difference between an email getting opened and getting deleted. 

Do you know what your emails look like sitting in different inboxes? You need a way to preview their appearance in clients such as Gmail, Outlook, and Apple Mail as well as all the different devices your customers are using. Otherwise, you’re as blind as Santa flying through a blizzard without Rudolph’s nose to guide the way! 

2. Abandoned cart email fails 

During the holidays, many consumers partake in the digital version of window shopping. They place items in their cart to come back for them later and make a purchase. Maybe … but maybe not. That’s where abandoned cart emails play a big role in holiday email marketing. 

You may have a standard template for abandoned cart emails, but now is the right time to test them to ensure they’re rendering the right way across clients and devices. As we all know, the email world is constantly changing. If you haven’t tested templates in a while, you might be surprised at what it reveals. 

3. Bad links and CTAs 

Imagine putting together an eye-popping email campaign designed to engage your contacts and encourage action. But then, your CTA button links to the wrong landing page. Or worse yet, a broken link sends potential customers to a 404 page. 

Sure, you could send out an “Oops Email” with the right link, but the damage has already been done. Manually checking links is a good idea, but it’s not foolproof. An automated way to verify URLs helps your team avoid costly human error. Plus, you could also double-check UTM parameters to make sure you’re tracking emails appropriately. 

4. Spelling mistakes and typos 

Noboddy’s perftec. But a misspelling in an important email hurts your brand’s reputation. It’s easy to make an embarrassing mistake in email copy as your team rushes to polish up holiday messaging. 

Email on Acid conducted a survey on email errors, which found that larger teams may be more likely to make these kinds of simple mistakes. It could be because there are a few too many cooks in the kitchen making last-minute changes. That’s why a spell check tool in your email readiness platform is a must-have! 

5. Spam flags 

Ending up in your audience’s spam folders would be the kiss of death this holiday season. No one is sifting through their junk mail to see if they happened to miss a holiday promo. What are you doing to avoid getting labeled as a spammer? 

Most ESPs don’t let you know about spam issues until after you hit send if at all. That’s why you need an email testing platform with B2B and B2C spam filters to help you improve deliverability over the holiday season. 

6. Accessibility issues 

Accessibility in email marketing certainly shows empathy for others, but it’s also a smart business move. If people are unable to view your emails, they won’t be able to act upon them either. 

Is your font size readable for those with low vision? Does the color palette you’re using for holiday emails have the right contrast ratio for legibility? Are screen readers able to decipher the content? What happens to the text, logo, and images if your customers are viewing emails in dark mode? These are all questions an email testing platform with accessibility tools can help you solve. 

Why You Can’t Afford to Skip Email Testing 

You’re investing a lot in your holiday email campaigns. Testing those emails should be a priority, not a luxury for when you have the time.  

Here’s a hypothetical situation illustrating the cost of a bad email: 

Let’s say the historic average order value from your main Black Friday email is $200, and you have a list of 35,000 subscribers. Now let’s assume you get a 27% open rate on that email, a clickthrough rate of 15%, and a conversion rate of 20% from those who click. Not bad, right? 

That means you stand to make $56,700 off of that one email. But hold up … the email didn’t display correctly for customers using Gmail, which is 25% of your list. So, you stand to a lose a quarter of those sales, which is more than $14-grand!  (Go ahead, you can double-check the math) 

If you’re not testing and optimizing every email you send, this kind of negative impact could be happening more than you realize. 

NiftyImages and Email on Acid go together like eggnog and fruitcake hot chocolate and marshmallows. You can create beautifully personalized, interactive emails. And, you can test them to make sure all your hard work and creativity pays off this season. 

Unlike an unwanted gift, bad emails can’t be returned or exchanged. You’re stuck with the results. So, if your team wants to be merry and bright, don’t skip testing of those last-minute holiday emails! 


– Sr. Email Marketing Manager, Email on Acid 

With a decade of email marketing experience, Betsy has done email strategy and execution for local brands as well as Fortune 500 companies all from the comfort of her North Carolina home. As Email on Acid’s Senior Email Marketing Manager, she’s enjoying being meta in email marketing and striving for email perfection in every send.