Lights, Camera, QC and then action!

Ah quality control. It might be the step in the process of launching a campaign that gets the least amount of glory. But if you’ve ever had that stomach-dropping moment of seeing a typo launch in your ad or email, you know that an incomplete QC can undercut even the strongest of messages. And your story deserves better!

That’s why, like a theater troupe before opening night, Fresh Eyes makes sure to celebrate those last critical steps before the curtain goes up on your campaign. And as you’ll see, it’s much more than a spellcheck. Want some inspiration on how to craft a QC process that looks at all elements of your campaign AND the sum of it’s parts? Read on!

First, make sure your signage is ready to draw audiences in…

Whether its your email’s subject line and preview text or your ad’s title and subheader, those first impressions are what pulls your audience into engaging with your content. Check the entire experience here, from the content whether you have the correct signer, punctuation and approved text – to the look ie. correct emoji’s, preview text formatting, button language etc.

Tips for envelope checks: Some fun handy tools here include a reference of how emojis render in different email programs, to this tip on how to make sure your preview text displays cleanly!

Second: “Line??” Check your script!

You worked hard on that copy, and your team has likely reviewed and updated it as well! Make sure that – word by word, line by line – your copy matches the final approved version. But to truly honor your copy, please don’t stop there. Do a full grammar and spelling check on the main version of the text, as well as a review of each segment or version of the copy. And finally, make sure that any personalized tags you use in your message work with the copy whether you have their personal information or not. “Dear first name” might lose you a friendly subscriber before they ever make it into your message!

Tips for copy checks: Obviously, online tools like Grammarly can help your team identify those pesky typos and grammatical errors. But to keep your QC as effective and efficient as possible, consider starting with a full QC of your main version of content, and then focusing QC of each subsequent version on just the elements of the content, sourcing, or imagery that are different for that audience.

Next – respect good dramaturgy and celebrate your sources… 

Ok, yes, we’ll stretch a metaphor for the sake of an awesome word like “dramaturgy.” But the point stands that in order to gauge just how well your message engaged your audiences, you’ll need robust and granular sourcing of all links, versioned to the correct segment. You’ll also need to honor the imagery or other source material you’re citing in your message by making sure all photos and other creative content are appropriately sourced.

Tips for sourcing: Whether it’s via discrete UTM parameters or an all-in-one source code, we try to make sure we’ve captured all relevant identifying aspects of the campaign within our source codes including: Fiscal year, campaign, channel, goal of message, audience segment, test segment, and whether it’s paid content or not. Any other elements you like to include in your sourcing?

And because words aren’t everything – time for a scenery check!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words – and hopefully not many of your messages are much longer than that! – you can’t ignore the impact of visuals in your messages. Start by checking that the approved versions of photos, logos, and illustrations are being used. And make sure that the proper formatting is being used – those strategic bolded sentences, descriptive alt-text, and scannable layout make your message just that little bit easier to grab a reader’s attention!

Tips for design checks: Want to keep your image files organized and easy to reference during QC? Take a tip from your robust sourcing approach and try file names and folder structures that leave breadcrumbs for you and teammates to understand what image is meant to be used where. (Think fiscal year, campaign, image use, channel, etc!)

Nearly there – stage that dress rehearsal

At the end all your hard work, you need to step back, view your message from the audience’s seat, and make sure it makes sense. Don’t just make a test gift – make a monthly gift and a one-time gift. Don’t just test that action – try sharing the link on major social channels. Finally, make sure every seat in the house is able to see your message – use a tool like Email on Acid to make sure your message is rendering on all major email platforms, and make a gift via mobile to ensure all digital wallet functionality is working seamlessly as well.

Tips for previews and strategy checks: Once a message or ad has gone through multiple rounds of review, it’s common for a sentence or two to simply stop making sense. Try adding a strategic review by someone with a good eye for the message to make sure the message flows well and hits the right notes. 

It’s time! Usher in the right audience and make sure they’re comfortable

It’s almost time for the curtain to rise, so make sure you’re bringing the right audience in to the right experience. Check audience targeting against approved strategy, refresh your suppression and inclusion groups for recent donors etc. and make sure the logic of your queries ensures that there is no overlap in audiences across segments.

Tips for audience queries: You know what your total audience number is likely to be, so don’t forget to check counts as well as queries. By making sure all your audiences add up to an expected total, you can avoid missing or overmessaging key supporters with your campaign!

And that’s it! Unwrap any candies, hit send and let that campaign shine! Depending on the complexity of your message, a robust QC process can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour. However, the applause and audience delight can make it all worth it. 

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