Agencies and organizations committed to improving their email programs should evaluate performance and operations on a regular basis. If your email marketing team is not proactively reviewing your overall program and the various nuances involved on a regular basis, please start.
The following post outlines an email marketing audit deliverable split into five categories. Answer the questions assigned to each category to assess the state of your email program.
Our five categories are:
If any of the questions posed do not make sense or bring up other questions, please comment below or feel free to contact me.
Ultimate Question: Is there a better alternative for sending emails than what is used presently?
- Are email program objectives aligned with functionality?
- Based on your existing business goals, is the current email service provider (e.g. ConstantContact, Lyris, Campaigner, etc.) a feasible match?
- What important tasks cannot be accomplished with the chosen service provider today?
- Is the existing platform big enough or too small?
- Do business requirements call for more sophistication (automation, CRM integration, lead scoring capabilities) from the service provider? Or is the current email tool-to-task match the equivalent of killing a bumblebee with a bazooka?
- At what point will there be a need to upgrade to a more advanced email service provider?
- What specific functions and operations will be necessary in the near future as the program evolves?
- What is the current SenderScore for the program?
- Based on this score, should the platform in use today be abandoned, and should the program be migrated to a different email service provider?
Ultimate Question: Are there opportunities for improvement with customer records management?
- How are new customer records acquired?
- Is the practice of list rental or purchase avoided? Just say “hell no” to buying or renting lists.
- Are contacts informed properly about how their information will be used?
- What messages are delivered to new contacts upon sign-up? Are expectations for message delivery and frequency set properly?
- Are there opportunities to improve the content that is delivered to new contacts?
- Are other content assets and methods to connect with the brand (e.g. customer service, social media, mobile applications, etc.) introduced?
- Are customer records segmented in a meaningful way?
- What methods can be used to divide customer records to improve message efficacy and avoid irrelevant email delivery?
- How can the segmentation process be improved by relying upon self-selected parameters (via survey) or behavior monitoring (based on previous activity/engagement)?
- Is the unsubscribe option clear and easy to identify within each message?
- Are requests to unsubscribe handled responsibly?
- Does the program offer a way for email recipients to choose their preferences?
Ultimate Question: how should design be modified to represent the brand and appeal to all audiences?
- Is the current email design right for the email channel?
- Is the design comprised of of one single image? Does it strongly resemble a direct mail piece, a flyer, or an outdoor board?
- Does every email message include a physical mailing address and a subject line that does not deceive (re: CAN SPAM compliance)?
- Is the email design consistent with other brand assets?
- Does the email design conform to existing brand standards and guidelines?
Optimized for Mobile
- Does the email render well on smaller mobile device screens?
- Does the email utilize the @media query for responsive design?
- How should the mobile version of the email design be modified to appeal to recipients on the go?
- How does the email render in all email clients? (Hint: use Litmus or Email on Acid)
- Are their email clients that are more important than others based on their popularity among recipients?
- How does the email look in clients that are traditionally troublesome like the dreaded Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013, and Yahoo Mail?
Ultimate Question: How are various aspects of the email program managed and in what ways can they be improved?
- How often do contacts receive messages?
- Based on response rates and engagement levels, how should frequency be modified?
- Should frequency for certain audience segments be different from others? Read more on finding the optimal email frequency here.
- Does the overall message align with the motivations of the audience to request email communication in the first place?
- How are brand assets (content marketing productions, events, video, graphics, etc.) utilized to encourage a response from the audience?
- How should the message differ based on audience segments? Is there a need to modify the message for certain recipient groups?
- Are there opportunities to develop a nurture program (or drip campaign) for contacts and prospects?
- What methods are used to maintain list integrity?
- Are some recipients removed or sequestered after long periods of inactivity?
- Does the program include email verification either at sign-up or after extended time frames?
- What email tests have been run with recent messages? What elements have been tested (e.g. subject line, from name, content, call to action, etc.)?
- Does the program entail an A/B split or multivariate approach to testing? What improvements can be made to the testing process?
- How are results from previous tests interpreted and put into play for subsequent messages and campaigns?
Ultimate Question: How is the email program measured today and what methods can be introduced to gauge success more accurately?
High Level Performance
- At what rate are email messages successfully delivered to their intended recipients?
- What are the current open and click rates for the campaign/program?
- What has the trend for delivery, open and click metrics?
- What is the monthly/quarterly/annual rate of list growth? List churn?
- What is the click response to key content placed within the email?
- How does email compare to other channels with regard to website visits? Time on site? Pages per visit?
- What kind of messages have a high rate of success when it comes to delivering website visits?
Sales and Activity
- How does email perform with respect to generating sales?
- Does email have a recognizable impact on the bottom line? Does the email channel make it rain?
- What other key performance indicators (downloads, event registrations, product demo views, etc.) have been impacted by the email channel?
The Correct Gauges
- Are the metrics used to evaluate the ongoing performance of the email appropriate?
- What other performance metrics should be considered given the nature of the program?
- What goals or benchmarks should be set for the email campaign(s) in the coming year?