Email best practices

The email marketer’s checklist for a relaxing summer vacation

Going away soon? We have 14 email marketing tasks for a happy, restful, and productive vacation. We’ll cover everything you need to do before, during, and after your trip to “Acapulco Bay”.

Hermes chasing a volleyball on the beach.

Ahh, summer vacation – a time to swim in the ocean, BBQ by the river, and check your work emails...

Wait, hold on a second. How many times have you peeked at Slack, checked your emails, or looked at the performance of an email campaign on holiday? You're not alone – 60% of people do the same and up to 80% wish they could "completely switch off”.

So why can't we resist the urge to check in on work? The fact is, working full-time comes with a momentum that bleeds into our holiday if left unchecked. We know it’s hard to let go, but as the saying goes, preparation is 90% of success. This summer we’re determined to help you go completely "off the grid" with this checklist of pre-and post-vacation tasks.

Grab your budgie smugglers – we're hitting the beach!

Before your vacation

In order to fully relax, relish, and reel in the fruits of your labor this summer, you're going to have to be proactive in your approach. Here are the steps to take before you "beat the birds down to Acapulco Bay."

1. Plan future campaigns

Doesn’t matter whether you're a master planner or a casual planner. Ahead of time, you need to fill (or have filled) up your marketing calendar for the period you are away.

Always begin email campaign planning with one thing: your goals. Are you announcing a new product? Launching a new sale? Promoting fresh content? Your goals will impact who you need to work with, the content you’ll need to create, and the time necessary to get all this done.

You’ll need to determine exactly which topics, themes, and content will be promoted. This can be a little tricky when planning ahead. For example, some content may not be live on your website yet. Therefore, for the time you’re away, it's best to plan campaigns that use content that is already available now.

But be wary of your bandwidth. You have to cram extra tasks in before your break and there’s only so much time in the day. Instead of brainstorming new time-consuming ideas, stick to tasks you can do efficiently, like regular newsletters.

2. Gather everything you need

The runway to your campaign is shorter than usual, so you’ll need to quickly gather all the necessary ingredients for your campaigns in advance.

Whether it's data, design, or new product collateral – it can take time to collect these resources from your team. And chances are, your team is also going on holiday. Ask these questions and make a plan with your colleagues to avoid meeting their out-of-office replies.

3. Create your campaigns

Now that you have everything you need, get to the printing press! For the sake of time, use an existing template you've previously developed in-house or adapt one from an existing template gallery (like Mailjet's!) instead of crafting a new design from scratch. Here are some things to consider when creating email campaigns this summer:

  • How will your audience’s needs, behavior, and interests change during this period? 

  • What do your subscribers need this summer? How can you help them? 

  • How can you reflect the joy of this season in your design and colors?  

  • How much money do customers have left to spend after paying for vacations? 

Once you’re done, don’t forget approvals from stakeholders – they are notorious for delaying reviews and then changing their minds last-minute. You don't want to be making a desperate dash before your holiday, adding unnecessary stress (on top of packing) to your life. So, make sure you allow ample (ample, ample) time for this step.

4. Test emails ahead of time

You don't want to return to the office, all glowing from your time-off, only to find out your email rendered poorly for some of your subscribers, do you? Testing emails before sending is key to prevent this. Here are some common vacation email disasters you need to test for:

  • Mobile rendering correctly

  • Typos and spelling mistakes

  • Personalization (Hi [insert name])

  • Wrong or broken links (404)

  • Email client rendering issues

  • Deliverability issues

  • Inbox readability

If you bypass email testing to save time, you could be risking harming your brand (and personal) reputation. Your ROI margins could also take a hit, and you may have to send out a time-consuming follow-up apology email. Avoid these mistakes by testing your emails using features like Mailjet’s Email Previews or using pre-deployment apps like Email on Acid.

5. Set and forget

The beauty of modern email marketing is the ability to "set and forget" email campaigns so you can leave your computer knowing everything is under control. Yet, have you ever left your house or car and wondered if you locked the door? This is exactly the same. Make sure you triple–check that you have scheduled your campaign at the correct time, or at all!

If you are flying east or west for vacation, you’ll know that you’re going forward or backward in time. This should be a stark reminder that our campaigns are also subject to the laws of time and space. Be sure to segment and send to your audience based on location and time zone, so their email arrives at the absolute perfect time for them.

6. Notify the team

Before you jet off, make the team aware of your email schedule. You can ask a team member to monitor your campaigns and give them access to your email service provider (ESP) and all necessary copy and data files. This is your last line of defense against any disasters while you're away.

During your vacation

Okay, so you're at the airport, and you're pretty smug by this point. Your email campaigns are all ready to go, and you're ready for Mai Tais and great food in Thailand. But when you check your phone for your boarding pass, you see a bunch of notifications from work. Eek... What if they're important? Did I forget something? Oh lord!

Follow these steps for vacation sanity:

7. Get off the grid

You've done everything you can – now it’s time to get off the grid. Here's everything you need to do to disconnect:

  • Write your (hilarious) out-of-office autoreply and status

  • Switch off work phone app notifications

  • Forward calls straight to voicemail

  • Put phone work apps in a "do-not-open" folder

  • Throw phone into the sea

8. Beach listening and reading

Finally – you're on the beach! But what’s the beach without a great summer read? We know how important it is to find the perfect book for your summer vacation, so here are two great resources to find your favorites: Goodread’s Summer Reading recommendations and The New York Times’ Summer Reading interactive list.

If you’re by the pool and can’t stop thinking about email, we’ve got you covered too. Check out our podcast Email's Not Dead or these other options perfect for email geeks.

And for some other light(ish?) reading, jump over to our latest ebook, The Omnichannel Hero’s Journey. Who doesn’t want to read about Star Wars and Harry Potter while they’re chilling under the summer sun?

9. Enjoy!

Whether you're city-hopping, beach-bumming, or just garden-lounging – really (really, really) savor the moment. You earnt it!

After your vacation

All good things must come to an end. So, now that you're rested, recuperated, and ready to roll – let's look at what you missed while you were away. Oh boy...

10. Monitor performance and metrics

It's time to go to your ESP dashboard and take a look at the performance of your vacation campaigns. There's a treasure trove of metrics to be tracked and analyzed – from open rates to click-through rates, and even unsubscribes. Look for any anomalies in your data.

Perhaps your bounce rate was higher than usual, or your deliverability was lower than expected. If anything looks off, you’ll need to become a detective and start connecting the dots.

Low deliverability metrics? Do an Inbox Placement test with Mailgun or verify your lists using Mailjet’s Bulk Verifications. Deliverability or engagement issues? Try only sending to your most engaged subscribers until your metrics improve.

Like any good detective, you need to create a hypothesis to explain these anomalies and undergo trial and error with further A/B testing until the problem is resolved.

11. Clean bounces and blocks

The number one priority of email deliverability is to keep your list clean. Before you get into your other marketing responsibilities, prioritize removing any bounces and blocks from your email lists. This keeps mailbox providers onside and prevents future campaign performance from being affected.

12. Plan re-engagement campaign

While you were away (we’re looking at you, two-weekers), a lot happened to your email list. It isn’t shocking to see your open rates decrease during the summer, either because your unengaged audience has also been on vacation or because they’ve lost interest and eventually become dead weight to your deliverability.

Okay, so some people on your list may have also been on holiday and missed your emails. In this case, you can plan a special “back to school” campaign that showcases everything they missed and offers new content for families and workers heading back to the “grindstone.” This campaign can help you determine whether these subscribers are active or if you’ve lost them for good.

Subscribers that haven’t engaged in a while pull down your deliverability reputation and, in many cases, they're better off your list. But before we scrub them from our database, try to tempt them back with a final “goodbye” or “sunset” campaign. This type of re-engagement campaign is usually short and sharp, asking your readers to click a CTA to remain in the loop.

13. Analyze KPIs, goals, & attribution to prepare for Q4

Getting back from vacation is like hitting a reset button, so why not hit the reset button on your email marketing strategy? Any good email strategy will move the goalposts based on the latest information.

Take a look at your goals: Are they ambitious enough or too optimistic? Is it time to be more realistic or push the boundaries further? Analyze your current attribution model and decide whether it’s producing accurate ROI results.

The summer will soon be over and, with a busy Q4 on the horizon, it’s time to start planning campaigns and goals ahead of the 2022 Holiday Season.

Pre-flight email checklist

So, here you have it: The ultimate summer checklist to make this vacation the best ever!

DOWNLOAD: The email marketer’s summer vacation checklist

You can download it, print it, and tack it up to your office wall as you start prepping for your time off. Now, where’s that Mai Tai?

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