How to audit your email marketing program
It's no secret that email is a powerful marketing tool. But even the most successful email marketing programs have room for improvement. That's where an email marketing audit comes in. The idea of an audit of any kind may sound intimidating, but there’s nothing to fear. In fact, auditing your email marketing program does a lot for the health of your campaigns and your business in the long-run. In this post, we'll discuss exactly what an email marketing audit is and how to conduct one for your own email marketing program.
What is an email marketing audit?
An email marketing audit is the process of evaluating all aspects of your email marketing program to determine how well it is performing and to identify areas for improvement. The goal of an audit is to help you understand what is and isn’t working so that you can make strategic decisions about how to improve your email marketing efforts. The process typically includes an assessment of your email list hygiene, subscriber engagement, deliverability, campaign results, email design and organizational structure.
Why should you audit your email program?
Auditing your email marketing program is a critical part of ensuring its success. The process allows you to identify areas where you need to make changes and, as a result, provides you with the necessary data to improve. Here are just a few specific ways email audits can be beneficial
- To ensure that your emails are being delivered to the correct recipients
- To verify that your email content is effective and engaging
- To evaluate the performance of your email marketing campaigns
- To identify any areas where you could improve your segmentation and personalization strategies
How do you prepare for an audit?
- Define your objectives
What do you hope to achieve with this audit? Overall, the goal is to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing, but maybe you’ve noticed only one or a few areas appear to be lacking, such as your automation capabilities or accessibility options, so you focus on those. However, if your entire program needs some re-assessing, that’s fine, too. It’s still beneficial to split out your main objective of email improvement into smaller goals to help you keep track of everything.
- Choose your metrics
How will you specifically evaluate your email program? Based on the goals you laid out, you should know if you’re planning to just do a performance audit, a deliverability audit, a content audit, or a comprehensive audit of the entire program. With your goal in mind, you’ll be able to narrow down which metrics you need to focus on.
- Gather all necessary resources
Which materials will you need to perform your audit thoroughly? Of course, the emails themselves are a good starting point, but consider any other background data, such as open and click through rates, DNS records, website conversions, landing pages, or anything else that may play an essential role in your email campaigns.
- Create a spreadsheet and/or report
The spreadsheet will be your official record of the email audit, a place to keep all the information you discover in one place. Organize your spreadsheet according to the metrics you want to measure. Then list the data for each of these metrics by journey, campaign, or email. You should also consider another document to be used for jotting down any other important notes, suggestions, or changes you want to make later on.
- Gather all necessary personnel
Your audit team will likely include some key Marketing positions, like your designers, content strategists, analysts, and copywriters. However, when it comes to more technical aspects, like DNS records, IT can be of help. It may also be a good idea to coordinate with Sales to learn more about how your email marketing can help them with their conversion process.
How often should you audit your email marketing program?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including the size of your email list, the frequency of your sends, and how much you change your email content. Generally speaking, it's a good idea to audit your email marketing program at least once a year. The more you change your email content, the more often you'll need to audit your program. If you're adding new subscribers regularly or changing your send frequency, for example, you'll want to audit more often than if you're only making minor changes to your content.
What should you check for during an email audit?
When you sit down and look at the content of your email marketing program, you’ll be analyzing three primary aspects: copy, design, and code. There is definitely some overlap with the three, but looking at them as separate pieces can help you better identify any weak spots.
- Subject Lines: The gateway to your emails so write them wisely. Be sure to get to the point, keep them short, and be creative.
- Preheader text: AKA preview text should expand on your subject lines. Email clients may automatically pull the first sentence of your email for this, but writing new copy is usually better to make sure the text is relevant.
- Sender name: Use an email address that is trustworthy and aligned with your business—for example, email@example.com.
- Headers: These should both stand out to your subscribers and give them a preview into what the email is about.
- Images: Watch out for skewed image to text ratios, use of too many images (which can trigger spam), or a lack of alt-text.
- Logos: Make sure all iterations of your logo are updated according to your current brand standards and double-check to see if they’re sized correctly.
- Call-to-action: Your CTAs should be easy to find, typically with a vivid button at the beginning or end of the email.
- Trends: While you shouldn’t sacrifice brand identity to keep up with the trends, it doesn’t hurt to know what’s working well in the wider email community–for example, left aligning vs center aligning your text.
- HTML code errors: Check for any bugs in your code that could be causing pesky issues.
- Mobile vs desktop: Responsive design in email marketing has become the norm and since 40% of people use mobile apps to open their emails, you’ll want to make sure you’re not alienating any of your mobile users.
- Dark mode: Does your email code include a dark mode version? With 95% of users having a preference for dark mode, it’s definitely something to consider.
- Landing pages: As you make changes to your website, you may add and remove certain pages, so check to see if your webpages are all functioning or if any newer pages may work better with the messaging of your emails.
- Links & buttons: Test all of your links and buttons to make sure they’re still clickable and still lead to the correct landing page.
- Unsubscribe options: Cleaning up your list can help you avoid being labeled as spam and help you rid your list of inactive subscribers.
This category deals with the more technical side of your email marketing program to ensure that your emails can actually reach your subscribers.
You can uncover this by obtaining spam complaint reports from ISPs or use a resource like senderscore.org to understand how good your sender reputation is.
Your DNS records are what tell mail servers where to deliver messages so check these to make sure they’re still accurate.
- Emails length: When your emails are too long or big, they may get cut off in certain email clients. Try to keep them on the short side or use a minifer to shrink your HTML code.
- Email rendering: Test how well your emails are displaying with various email clients.
- Delivered rate: Tells you how many emails were successfully delivered in your campaigns.
- Inbox rate: Measures how many emails make it to your subscribers’ inboxes in addition to how many were delivered.
Using personalization has become instrumental to a successful email marketing program—after all, you can’t market effectively to your audience if you’re not sending them emails they resonate with. As you go through your audit, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to re-assess the personalization and segmentation needs of your subscribers. Here are a few things to ask yourself and your team:
- Where do you need more communication within your email journeys?
- How is each segment performing so far?
- Where is there room for more personalization?
- Is my email segmentation strategy still accurate?
- Are all of my segments necessary?
Email Performance and Audience Insights
There are quite a few email metrics that can tell you. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your business and take a look at how well your campaigns are measuring up compared to your industry average. As you implement the other changes according to what you’ve discovered during your audit, these numbers should improve as well.
You can also find more information on how to understand these metrics here and here.
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- List growth rate
- Subscriber acquisition cost
- Revenue per subscriber
- Revenue per email
- Forwarding rate
What to do with the results of your email marketing audit?
So you've completed your email marketing audit. Now what? The first step is to analyze the results and identify your wins and opportunities. Once you have a good understanding of what's working and what needs improvement, you can start developing a plan of action. It's important to prioritize your changes, so focus on the most important areas first. You may not know which strategy is going to be a winner just yet so be sure to A/B test where it makes sense—this can include subject lines, email designs, and segments. Most of all, don't forget to celebrate your successes along the way—implementing even a few small changes can have a big impact on your email marketing results.
Whether you’re a new email marketer or you’ve been doing it for years, conducting an email marketing audit is a great way to evaluate the health of your email marketing program. By auditing your email marketing program regularly, you can ensure that your email marketing campaigns are successful and continue to deliver results for your business.
Need help conducting your audit? Our team at Scalero will guide you in determining which metrics to look at and assist you with making changes to optimize for your email program to the fullest.
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