Worst Case Scenarios: Email Marketing Edition

On February 28, 2017, Amazon Web Services went down, taking with it websites and apps like Slack, Trello, Venmo, and Adobe that rely on its hosting services. In our office, there was an audible gasp (not kidding) as people realized what was happening and searched for more information. Now this is far from a “doomsday” situation, but needless to say, it was not a welcome event. Though outages of this magnitude are rather rare, they do happen—and could even affect your email marketing program. Here are three things you should proactively consider today to ensure that your emails can withstand hosting issues, outages, and other unforeseen circumstances:

1. Build emails with a backup in place
If the text, images, or other features of your email are hosted by a server that fails, you need a backup so that the email doesn’t appear completely broken. Using styled ALT text will ensure that your message gets communicated no matter what—subscribers will see the text you enter if they’re not able to see the image. In general, it’s a best practice to always include alt-text for your images so that someone can see and engage with your message, regardless of whether or not images are displayed.

2. Plan for the unexpected
If your Email Service Provider (ESP) would shut down tomorrow with no warning, what would you need to continue your email marketing program? If you only maintain lists and other email data in one place, consider backing it up on a regular basis. The same goes for storing content on just your laptop’s hard drive, etc. Redundancy is key.

3. Have processes in place to stop the presses
Chances are, you’ll never need to put everything on hold. But if you do, do you have a plan of how you’ll accomplish it? Think of the worst case scenario in which you stop all outgoing emails. How long will it take? Others may need to be involved, like your ESP contact, your IT team, etc. If you have to stop each email program manually, work with all parties involved to determine if there might be a better way.

Disaster recovery plans that concern technology are very common, and for good reason. When problems arise that you have no control over, you need to know what to do. Being able to minimize the damage is critical! Even though email marketing is an important business process, you might not have given it a second thought. Let the Amazon outage be a lesson to us all about preparing for the worst – and let’s hope you’ll never have to use it.

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