About to send your next Marketo Email? Here’s how to avoid your worst fear…

James T Fletcher
CEO, Principal Consultant


Don’t forget to grab your free email checklist

Picture this scene: you’ve checked your Marketo email campaign, given it the green light, pressed send… and then you realise there’s a mistake. But there’s nothing you can do, it’s already arriving in the inboxes. It’s a marketer’s worst fear, the stuff of nightmares – enough to bring on a cold sweat and heart palpitations. 

The fact is, we are only human and mistakes do happen, but you don’t want to be the one that makes them! Not only are they embarrassing in front of your colleagues, but they can also negatively affect the reputation of your business, and even potentially land your company with a steep GDPR or data protection fine. The risks have never been higher when it comes to making email marketing errors. 

The good news is that there are several ways you can help arm yourself and your colleagues against an email marketer’s worst fear. Stick with us to find out what they are…

Don’t let the potential for errors hold you back 

Email mistakes can come in many forms. Spelling errors, broken links, discount codes that don’t work, glitchy gifs and inconsistencies across different devices, to potentially more serious oversights such as sending emails to incorrect contacts or accidently sharing personal data. 

Most of us have seen the improper use of CC used instead of BCC and everyone’s email details inadvertently shared and the high profile fines that have followed. For example, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust were fined £180,000 when a newsletter about HIV treatment and support was sent to 781 individuals who could all see each other’s email addresses. This wouldn’t have happened if they had used an appropriate marketing automation platform such as Marketo Engage

As experienced marketers at JTF Marketing, we know all too well the anxiety that can be induced when sending an email campaign. It’s almost enough to put you off email marketing altogether, especially now that GDPR is in place. 

But throwing in the email marketing towel would be very unwise. The DMA’s 2019 Marketer’s Email Tracker found that “ROI from email marketing now stands at over £42 for every £1 spent” – an impressive figure that clearly highlights the value of email marketing. The DMA also found that 91% of the organisations surveyed said that email marketing was an “important” marketing channel for them. More important than social media and telephone marketing. 

The fact is that your company will fall behind its competitors if you fail to take advantage of email marketing due to fear of making mistakes. The positives far outweigh the potential downsides, especially when you know how to prevent these mistakes.

So, how do you prevent them? 

Get the right tools for the job

Using a marketing automation platform, such as Marketo Engage, is something you should seriously consider. 

Automation and segmentation can considerably reduce the risk of human error, however the DMA found that only 33% of organisations automate emails, 43% segment, and 24% do neither. Those that don’t make use of such technology are only making life harder for themselves. 

Automation is all about allowing technology to simplify and strengthen workflows – it can take responsibility for fiddly and time consuming tasks, and make your email marketing campaigns more effective. If you automate a task, you inevitably reduce the potential for human error. 

Research by Liana Technologies in 2017 found that 68.5% of marketers believe marketing automation improved the targeting of messages. Creating personalised campaigns is easy with marketing automation, as is sending proactive triggered emails. 

Triggered emails are messages that are sent automatically when a lead/customer’s behaviour “triggers” them – examples include abandon cart emails and order confirmations. For most businesses, it wouldn’t be possible to send emails like this manually. 

Make sure your data is squeaky clean

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) also make it easy to keep your data clean, which can improve the performance of your campaigns, and reduce the risk of a data breach. 

The “State of Marketing Automation Benchmarks for Success” by Adestra found that 39% of marketers believe that automation improved database quality – this can be achieved by using apps within a MAP that run email validation tools to ensure all your email addresses are legitimate, accurate and deliverable. You’re simply wasting time if you are sending campaigns to defunct email addresses. 

It’s also crucial that your email lists are created ethically and in line with GDPR rules. The rules state that people have the right to opt in to receiving marketing emails – you must not automatically tick the box to opt them in, so that they have to manually untick to opt out. 

Remember, not only will automatically opting people in to receiving your marketing emails make you liable for a fine, it will also make it more likely for your campaigns to be marked as spam – meaning your email quality score will suffer.

Use automation tools to create the hottest campaigns

Mistakes can also be made with your email marketing strategy. These oversights may not put you at risk of a fine, but they are still damaging. This damage could be in the form of wasted time and budget. 

It’s not enough to just simply send email campaigns. Analysing the performance of your email marketing and being strategic with your communication is key if you want to make sure you’re not wasting effort and money on emails that don’t get you a good ROI. 

The most successful email campaigns tend to be those which focus on reaching people with the right message at the right time. Marketing automation can help you to understand the journey that your leads go on before they buy, this can then help you to develop an effective email strategy – perhaps including triggered emails. 

A marketing automation platform will also allow you to measure the effectiveness of campaigns with automatically generated reports that will arrive in your own inbox with zero effort on your part. You will then be armed with the knowledge to create powerful campaigns with great ROI. 

Invest in easy-to-use templates 

Using easy-to-format email templates that are configured to work perfectly across all devices can also help you avoid embarrassing errors. 

Both MAPs and ESPs (email service providers) come with default email templates, but the honest truth is that these are often rubbish. We regularly help businesses improve their Marketo email strategy, and a whopping 90% of the Marketo templates we review are flawed. 

It’s well worth investing in some custom email templates which are specifically designed inline with your brand identity, but are set up to be  easy to use. This will ensure you aren’t messing around with code, which is an area where mistakes are easily made. 

Find out more about custom email templates by JTF Marketing. 

Get the Marketo Email Pre-flight Checklist  

When you send out emails regularly, and especially when you are running multiple campaigns simultaneously it can be easy to lose track, and this is when mistakes can happen.

We have put together a handy interactive checklist which will ensure that you ‘tick all the boxes’ before sending out your next email. 

From checking your smart lists to filters, rendering to tokens, our pre-flight checklist will ensure that any potential mistakes can be caught before your email takes flight!

Ensure you avoid every marketer’s worst fear…

Download your Marketo Email Pre-flight Checklist today 

If our opening scenario got you feeling on edge about emails, we hope the tips and insights that followed have made you feel more in control. Email marketing is not easy, but with due care and attention and the right technology, it’s a fantastic tool for any business.