Digital strategy, Email strategy, Fundraising

Six Tips for an Error-Free End-of-Year

Kristen Steenbeeke

Managing Editor

It’s Dec. 31, and you’ve just deployed your organization’s last email. This is your audience’s last chance to take advantage of your match opportunity, but suddenly you get a sinking feeling. You open the email, click the donate link, and … get a 404 error. In your mind, you see the 14,264 people you sent the email to trying to donate – and failing.

How do you avoid these types of errors sneaking through, all while dealing with the massive volume and looming deadlines of year-end? Well, here at MissionWired, we have a quality assurance (QA) team double- and triple-checking every nook and cranny of every email, landing page, SMS, and more. While you might not have the time or budget for a full QA squad, there are still a number of ways your team can deploy their eagle eyes in service of an error-free EOY. Read on:

  • Make checklists. For each type of content you’re working with (email, ads, graphics, landing pages), make a list of – and here’s where your team’s perfectionists will thrive – everything that could go wrong. It’s also a good idea to make checklists for copy (paying attention to grammar, fact-checking, and spelling) and the final product like a test email (working links, correct refcodes, properly rendering graphics).
  • Create a style guide. Even if it’s quick and dirty, a style guide is always useful to ensure everyone writing or proofreading copy is on the same page. Want to use a serial comma? Mark it down. Have specific ways of formatting titles of organizational programs and services? Include them. A style guide allows for consistency and cuts down on all the Slacks you might send with questions about tiny details.
  • Establish an order of operations. To avoid adding errors after ads copy or a test email has been checked, ensure you send it back through review if any additional changes have been made. It’s best to create a flow chart showing where the deliverable should go, and at which points the final output will be proofread and combed through for errors.
  • Keep an error tracker. Nobody’s perfect – including us! That’s why we maintain a list of errors, their categories, and when they were caught. The final column in the document notes how we’ll avoid that type of error in the future. For example, if we sent an email with a graphic that ended up being stretched oddly on mobile, we’d add a note to the email checklist to always forward emails to our own phones to ensure graphics (and other elements) render properly.
  • While we’re on that subject: Check your work on various platforms. Many errors occur when you’re only checking your message on a single email client or your landing page on a single device. Our solution is to use Litmus, a handy app that will provide a screenshot of every email platform on every possible device, allowing you to see how every person in your audience will be viewing your emails. Plus, it gives you even more information on preview text, alt-text, accessibility, and more. For checking landing pages across devices, Google Chrome allows you to view your page on various mobile types. (Just right-click, select “Inspect,” and toggle on the device toolbar.)
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. We all know how wildly busy EOY can get, which is why assigning priority levels to various aspects of your process will help you get through the especially hectic moments. Need to get something out the door in an hour? Maybe not the best time to fret over whether to use a comma or a semicolon. Your mission requires funding, which requires you getting emails to the right people at the right time with functional donation pages. A donor will very likely still give if you have a misplaced comma, but not if your links are broken!

Have more questions about quality assurance? Reach out to MissionWired Managing Editor Kristen Steenbeeke at kristen.steenbeeke@missionwired.com.

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