How healthy are your email campaigns? It's an odd question, we know. But, once a year your email strategy should get a checkup. To keep your email strategy in tip-top shape, you need to put it under a microscope to make sure you're achieving your goals. It's called an email audit and you should audit your email campaigns.
It probably sounds about as riveting as a trip to the doctor, but we promise, it's not painful and the insights you gather are well worth your time.
To help marketers audit their email campaigns, we've created a step-by-step guide to audit your email campaigns. For the best results, you should download the Pinpointe Email Audit Worksheet.
Let's get started.
What's an email audit?
Before we start with the actual auditing process, let's be clear about what an audit is and why it's worth your time.
An email audit reviews your overall email marketing process to identify problems and find solutions that can improve your relationships with customers.
Basically, you're examining what you've done with the intent to improve it.
Doing an email audit can help you:
- Take both a macro and micro level look at your email campaigns
- Identify problems with email creation and distribution
- Improve key components of your emails to drive better response rates
- Decide if you're ready to upgrade to a new email service provider
- Create a plan for improvement
Step #1: Create a timeline of the email creation process
How do you create an email? What's the process?
The first step of an audit is to understand how an email goes from concept to completion. By understanding your workflow, you can look for ways to create and send emails more efficiently.
Take a minute and write down the steps you take to create an email, who's responsible for each step, and how long it takes to complete each stage. We've created a chart for you to use as part of our email audit worksheet, which you can download.
Here's what the chart looks like:
Take a few minutes to look at your email process. Really look at it. Ask yourself these questions and jot down your answers so you can make improvements:
- Is the process too long? Where can we pick up efficiencies?
- Does the process get hung up at a particular point?
- Are there too many people involved in the creation of an email campaign?
- Are there any steps that seem out of order?
- What can be improved upon?
Step #2: Review three email campaigns using our the audit checklist
You've taken the time to evaluate your email creation process, now let's examine your actual emails.
If you're pressed for time and don't want to complete the entire audit, this is the one step you should do. Consider it a mini audit.
Start by pulling three emails that you sent to subscribers. You're going to compare them. Which three should you pick? We suggest pulling emails based on metrics. Pull the following emails:
- A successful email. One that has high response rates.
- A middle-of-the-road email. One that has so-so response rates.
- A failed email. One that performed poorly.
You're going to take each email, one at a time, and see if it meets all of the criteria for a "superior email," which is detailed in the checklist below. It will help you analyze nine components of an email.
The audit worksheet makes this easy to do. If the email contains the item on the checklist, check it off. If it's missing, don't check it.
Run each of the three emails through this checklist.
The 9-Point Superior Email Checklist
1. From line
- Personal, professional name
- Company domain included (not @gmail or @yahoo)
2. Subject line
- Length is between 60-70 characters
- Personalization included and checked for accuracy
- No spam words
- Preheader text exists
- It provides additional context about email's purpose
- A headline exists in the email
- The headline is in large, bold, readable font
- The headline gives subscribers an idea of what the email is about
- Short, clear text
- Bulleted lists used when necessary for clarity
- Color scheme is appealing and brand appropriate
- Text talks to the subscriber, not at them
- Text focuses on benefits not products
6. Call to action
- The call to action is a button
- The email has one (maybe 2) calls to action
- Text inside the call to action is urgent
- Clear, relevant images are used
- Alt text included
- Images are compressed for quick load time
- Your logo and company name is included
- Clicking on your logo takes subscribers to your home page
- Messaging is consistent with brand and vision
- Unsubscribe button is obvious to find
- Contact information is provided
- Social icons are clickable
Now, it's time to compare. Your most successful email likely has a lot of boxes checked while the failed email only has a few.
Take some time to write down which boxes are unchecked. These are your new email marketing goals. This is what you'll work on during this calendar year.
Print the list and hang it next to your computer, in the office, or wherever you create emails. Let it serve as a reminder to steer your emails in the right direction.
Step #3: Evaluate your email service provider
Now, it's time to evaluate your email service provider. Often, brands outgrow their email service provider and need more features to keep up with their evolving marketing strategies. It might be time for an upgrade.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What do you like most about your current provider?
- What features do you use the most?
- What features do you lack?
- Is this an email service provider that you can grow with?
- What kind of features do you get for the subscription fee?
Growing businesses need more than a basic email platform with a few free templates. Take some time to look at various email service providers and do a little comparison-shopping.
To help decide, here is a list of features you should look for in an email service provider:
- Mobile-friendly templates
- A free image library
- SPAM scoring
- Email previews that show specific devices
- Personalization techniques
- Drip campaign capabilities
- Behavioral targeting
- Email preference centers
- Customized, comprehensive analytics
Do some research to see which email service providers meet your criteria. The worksheet has a handy pros and cons chart you can fill in like this:
Step #4: Turn analysis into action
You've taken a hard look at your email marketing strategy, but it's not worth much if you don't take action on the lessons you've learned.
It's time to come up with a plan to improve your email marketing strategy based on your audit. We'll help you review the notes from steps one, two and three to summarize your findings and improve your future campaigns. (Again, the worksheet will help you organize your thoughts).
Review your email creation process
Go back to the chart you created for step one. Review the notes you've made and answer these questions:
- What will you do to improve your workflow and create emails more efficiently?
- Who needs to be notified of these changes?
- How will you measure the success of these changes?
Review your checklist results
When you compared three email campaigns, you learned a lot about what you do and don't include in an email. Take a look at the things you're missing and figure out what steps you have to take to make them happen.
For instance, if you're sending emails from gmail, you'll need to set up a more professional account with your domain name in it. If your personalization skills are lacking, you might need to upgrade to a better email service provider that has the tools you need to do this.
Answer these questions:
- What has to be done to achieve all of the missing components from the Superior Email Checklist?
- Do you need to delegate any of these tasks? If so, to whom?
Review email service provider research
You took some time to compare your email service provider to others. Now's the time to decide what you want to do. To help, answer these questions:
- Are you missing the tools necessary to take your emails to the next level?
- Are you ready to switch to a more advanced email platform?
- Which platform resonates with your brand and needs?
- If you're switching, what steps are necessary to make a switch?
Implementing your changes
Congratulations, you've just completed an email audit. It took some time, yes, but you're now armed with valuable information that can improve your email marketing strategy. Use your completed worksheet as an actionable guide to improve your emails this year.
You're probably excited to make some changes, but remember, you don't have to do everything at once. Make changes slowly. As you make improvements, watch your metrics to see how your audience responds. You'll likely see higher response rates because you took the time to review and analyze your process. Kudos.