Last Thursday we hosted a webcast Email Marketing Mistakes with our internal email marketing team, Jill Guest and Matt Rushing. We discussed common email marketing mistakes made, how to mitigate damages, and reviewed our pre-send checklist. Since we weren’t able to get to all of our questions in our live Q&A at the end, I grabbed Jill Guest to help me answer the first half of the questions that went unanswered. Do you prepare a generic apology email ahead of time in case things go wrong? JG: It’s not a bad idea to have something in your back pocket. It will allow you to move quickly in the event you need to send an apology email. However, you’ll want to make sure any apology email you do send is specific to the situation and is genuine. When is a contact considered stale or rather, when should we remove them (“sunset” them) from our sending? KS: There isn’t a universal rule for when a contact is considered stale. Our Deliverability Consultant, Luke Martinez, said this about stale contacts and sunset policies: “A sunset policy states that after a recipient hasn’t engaged (no opens, clicks, etc.) within a certain amount of time, you will remove them from your sending list. The specific amount of time you set can range from a few weeks to a few months–it ultimately depends on your industry and email program.” If you’re unsure how to set your sunset policy, check out a step-by-step post from our compliance team about it here. Do you have an ideal number of emails per week or best day or time you recommend sending to prevent exhausting your recipients? JG: Your ideal email volume per week will depend on your business, recipients, and types of email you’re sending. You can learn what is best for your program by testing send times and frequencies, and keeping a keen eye on engagement. If you increase the frequency of sends for a segment of recipients and notice a dip in open and click rates, or an increase in unsubscribes, it’s a good sign that you should back off a little. Similarly, you can find what times of day and days of the week are best by testing various campaigns and letting engagement rates tell you what your recipients respond to best. Just make sure you’re testing the same content, otherwise you won’t know if it’s the sending time that is the winner, or the message itself. What are A/B testing opportunities? JG: A/B testing is a great way to fine tune your email program, as it is a way for you to learn what email messaging, design, and strategies resonate most with your recipients. If you’re new to A/B or multivariate testing, some of the best places to start are with elements of the email like subject line, from address, and CTA, or strategic elements like sending frequency and segmentation methods. If you’re using SendGrid Marketing Campaigns, you can easily test up to 6 variations of your campaign. Learn more about how to create accurate tests in our A/B Testing Guide. Is it possible to send a test email that actually has working links and tags? JG: It is! When you’re sending a test email from Marketing Campaigns, values will appear in substitution tags if the test recipient and their data are already in your contact database. If you don’t have the values stored in your database to substitute, the default values you designate will appear in the substitution tag. (For example, instead of your greeting saying “Hi Alex!” it will read “Hi There!” if you don’t have a recipient’s first name in your database.) Stay tuned for the second half of the Q&A later this week with our other presenter Matt Rushing! If you’re interested in viewing the full webcast Email Marketing Mistakes, it’s now available on-demand.