You can find great email checklists all over the internet. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

Unfortunately, none of these account for Watson Campaign Automation’s (formerly Silverpop’s) unique flair. As an enterprise system, the assumption from IBM is that their users have an advanced knowledge of email platforms. In general I would say that is true, but even with industry knowledge there are some unique factors you need to remember.

Email Troubleshooting & Tips for Watson Campaign Automation

We have worked our way through a myriad of problems using Watson Campaign Automation, slowly compiling our checklist of things that must be reviewed either during template creation or before we click the big “scary” send button. Hopefully these will save you some time and frustration.

Use the correct Contact Source

Much of Watson’s magic comes from your database. In order to get the most from the email platform, make sure that you select the right Contact Source.

Watson select contact source screen shot

Note: Contact Source at the template level is only necessary if you are using personalization or Contact Source-associated Hyperlinks features. If you are setting up the template for a program without those, do not worry about connecting a Contact Source at the template level.

Use the correct From and Reply-to addresses

Not much feels worse than a manager asking why they are received 30,000 out-of-office replies. Before clicking Send, double-check the Address Settings for validity and correct email addresses.

Using preheader text? Turn off the auto-append feature

The option to auto-append a Click to View in Browser link is useful, but preheader text will not work in Watson Campaign Automation if you allow them to append the link automatically. This is because the link is appended at the very top of the <body> section of your email, overriding any of your wonderfully crafted preheader text.

Watson Campaign Automation's built-in View Online toggle

It is still important to add your own Click to View in Browser link, which can be done by utilizing the Hyperlinks tab to adjust the link settings to Custom click to view.

Set your tracking level

Within the Mailing Settings you can set your desired tracking level. Generally, you will just want to ensure that Unique is selected as you can still get the other tracking numbers from reports. If your Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions or country-level privacy laws are more restrictive, however, you will need to choose the matching level.

Watson Campaign Automation - Select the correct tracking level for your email

Use the right type of link

If the only thing you do to create a link in Watson is use an <a href=””> tag, you are missing out on the powerful features of IBM’s marketing tool. Watson allows you to use the following types of links:

  • Tracked hyperlink
  • Not tracked hyperlink
  • Bookmark hyperlink
  • Clickstream hyperlink
  • Forward to a friend hyperlink
  • Web form hyperlink
  • Double opt-in confirmation link
  • Opt-out (to page) link
  • Opt-out (one click) link
  • Opt-out (custom) link
  • Opt-out to mail link
  • Email (mailto) link
  • Custom click to view link
  • File download link
  • Social network link

There are a lot of options and each have their respective benefits. In practice, we typically use only the Tracked hyperlink, and Custom click to view link. I recommend that you create your email template with standard <a href=“”> links, add the template to Watson, and then use the Template Editor’s Hyperlink tab to review all included links and ensure you have the correct one chosen. You can set up your development system to include the different link types, but doing so may cause you to miss the next step on this list.

Verify your links

While you are in the Hyperlinks tab of the Template Editor, confirm that all your links are rendering as expected. By hovering over the page previews, Watson will tell you if a link is verified:

Watson unsuccessful URL verification

Warning: some websites do not have proper response headers. A rendering looks like it will probably be fine, but in reality the 404 page is sending a 200 response header – which shows you the link is working, even though it is not.  LinkedIn is an example of this:

Watson Campaign Automation successfully verifying a URL

Populate your UTM tracking code

Do you use Google Analytics like the rest of the known marketing world? Yes? That’s what I thought.

In order to include GA tracking, you need to manually populate UTM codes on each of the links during development. In case you need a reminder, you can use Google’s super easy UTM builder tool to create the parameter string.

First time in there? Here are my recommended starting points for your UTM codes:

  • Campaign Source: watson (or silverpop if you have historical data within Analytics that you would like to keep consistent)
  • Campaign Medium: email
  • Campaign Name: [your-campaign-name]

That should be enough to start. If you want to dig deeper and use more segmentation opportunities (particularly if you are A/B testing), you will probably want to read up a bit more on UTM codes and their value within analytics.

Confirm that Unsubscribe works

Unlike a program, Watson does not require or warn you if an Unsubscribe link is not available during validation. Save yourself the frustration (and potential lawsuit) by double- and triple-checking to make sure that the Unsubscribe link works.

Use Our Checklist

We have put together these steps (and a few more) in our Watson Campaign Automation Email Checklist. The list concentrates more on the technical side, after you have used campaign planning checklists tend to develop the email strategy and content.

Click here to use the checklist.

Have anything we are missing? Let us know at

Written by Duncan Lawrence