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Uncovering the secrets of an effective email marketing audit

By Stacy Kimbell

March 6, 2024

Email marketers have a common misconception about email marketing and marketing automation. Many believe relying only on email automation and disregarding additional measures will yield notable results. In reality, there’s more to successful email marketing. It requires regular planning, precision in execution, and adaptation. 

In fact, email marketing audit plays a major role in achieving success. It’s important to conduct regular audits of your email marketing strategy. This will give you a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of your email marketing strategies. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of audits, ideal tools, and best practices. We’ll also create a helpful checklist to guide you through the process. 

Let’s begin.

What is an email marketing audit?

Simply put, an email audit is a comprehensive evaluation of your email marketing strategy. It is used to assess the effectiveness of your email system; it highlights your strengths and weaknesses. 

With an email marketing audit, you can identify what works and what doesn’t. With this data, you can make the necessary adjustments and tighten loose ends. 

You can perform an audit to assess the general health of your email marketing system. You can also isolate specific areas you want to evaluate. 

A comprehensive email marketing audit usually targets the following areas:

  • Subscriber engagement
  • Deliverability
  • Quality of content 
  • Email list management
  • Responsiveness
  • Security

Ideally, you should carry out an email audit annually. But if you’re working with large volumes of emails, you may need to audit more often.

How can an email marketing audit help you?

An email marketing audit can be likened to a health check for your email marketing techniques. 

An audit helps you identify effective actions that are valuable to your business. Having discovered them, you can capitalize on them to grow your business. 

On the other hand, an email audit can help you identify problematic areas as well. 

Conducting regular audits helps your business in the following ways:

  • Consolidate insights on customer preferences: Conducting an email marketing audit helps you find what resonates with your audience. It gives you more insight into their behavior. Tweak the content of your email to include topics that pique the interest of your audience. This will encourage them to engage more with your brand.
  • Analyze email list health: A healthy email list is one of the most important keys to a successful email plan. Conducting an email marketing audit helps you identify and remove inactive email addresses from your subscriber list. Keeping a clean email list improves your sender’s reputation. It also enhances deliverability and boosts your email performance.  
  • Identify ways to improve ROI: An email marketing audit helps you develop an effective marketing strategy. This strategy produces measurable results. You can analyze these results using click-through rates, open rates, and general email sales.

    Regular email audits prevent you from wasting resources on ineffective marketing initiatives. As a result, you can identify more ways to improve your email marketing revenue.

  • Refine your overall approach: As marketing trends evolve, so should refine your strategies. An email audit helps you clearly identify and update areas that are outdated. It also enables you to realign your marketing plans with your business goals. 
  • Gather insights into conversion rates: Optimizing your emails based on auditing insights can significantly impact your conversion rates.  For instance, the results of your email audit may indicate that you need to revise your CTAs, or email cadence. When you fine-tune it accordingly, it boosts your engagement and increases conversion rates. 

Different types of email audits

Digital marketers use different email audits to analyze their email marketing strategies. Let’s discuss them.

Comprehensive email marketing audit

Conducting a comprehensive email marketing audit requires you to focus on multiple areas. It requires a holistic approach to analyzing your email strategy and its components. 

This email audit allows you to evaluate the different facets of your email marketing tactics. These include list health, deliverability, performance, design, and content. This type of audit entails a more comprehensive and time-consuming process than other audits. However, its results are equally effective.  

Performance audit

A performance audit is a type of audit email marketers often use. It analyzes KPIs to determine the effectiveness of your email campaigns. An email marketing performance audit and strategy generally evaluate metrics like ROI, click-through, open, and conversion rates.

Email deliverability audit

This email marketing audit checks if the recipient successfully received your emails. If your email delivery rates are low, average, or high, this audit will help you determine why. 

With an email deliverability audit, you can evaluate your sender’s reputation. You can also check your IP address, list hygiene, and other factors that affect email deliverability.

After the email deliverability audit, you may need to conduct more authentication protocols to verify your email address.

Content and design audit

Sometimes, the problem with your email marketing activities may not lie in your deliverability but in your content and design. 

In this audit, you’ll review the quality and relevance of your email content to check if it aligns with your target audience. 

This type of email marketing audit also checks the design and layout of your email templates. You’ll analyze the graphics, logos, colors, and fonts. Ensure that you maintain consistent branding across various touchpoints.  

List health and segmentation audit

This type of email marketing audit assesses the overall health of your email list. It involves removing inactive subscribers or re-engaging dormant customers. 

In this audit, you’ll also check your subscriber segmentation. Poor segmentation results in your subscribers receiving irrelevant emails. Eventually, this will cause them to lose interest in your messages. 

A list health and segmentation audit helps you avoid losing subscribers. It ensures your list is clean and subscribers get messages dedicated to them.  

Technical audit

This email marketing audit reviews the technical aspects of your emails. It analyzes the underlying code and the HTML and CSS structure. Also content accessibility for all recipients.

For example, your message might not be accessible to individuals with visual disabilities. This may be the result of missing alt texts for images and other essential semantic elements in the HTML.

After a technical audit, you may have to conduct a code clean-up. This will ensure all your recipients can access and understand your emails adequately. 

Compliance audit

As an email marketer, you must follow certain data protection laws and requirements that regulate email communication. Failure to follow these laws can affect your sender’s reputation and email deliverability. You may even be charged with fines and lawsuits. 

A compliance email marketing audit verifies if you’re protecting the privacy and security of your subscribers. It evaluates compliance with email marketing laws like GDPR, CCPA, and CAN-SPAM. 

Automation and workflow audit

Conduct routine audits of your email automation system to ensure everything operates as intended. Examine your templates, triggers, flow logic, and other key email automation components. 

With this audit, you’ll learn how automation streamlines your workflow. You’ll also discover areas that need adjustments.

Doing an email audit

We’ve covered the different types of email marketing audits above. However, it’s important to discuss the step-by-step audit process. 

1. Define your objectives

First, you must define what you hope to achieve from the audit. The purpose of the email audit will determine the area of your email marketing initiative you will focus on. 

You can execute several email audits simultaneously. Alternatively, you can choose a particular area and establish a well-defined action plan. 

Perform a list health and segmentation audit to evaluate the effectiveness of your subscriber grouping. Also, conduct an email deliverability audit to assess your deliverability rates. 

2. Choose your KPIs

When you set clear auditing goals, you can choose KPIs and metrics. Your chosen KPIs will measure your progress. It also helps you stay on track while you work towards achieving your goals. 

The KPIs you choose will determine the type of email marketing audit you perform. For instance, a performance audit requires you to check various segments. This includes your click-through rates, click-to-open rates, conversion rates, etc. 

However, this is not the case for a deliverability audit. Here, your KPIs are the bounce rates, delivery rates, and click rates. Meanwhile, a health and segmentation audit will focus on KPIs like the unsubscribe rate, spam complaint rate, and open rate.  

3. Collect data

When you’re performing an email audit, it’s important to record your findings to track your progress. You can use pre-existing spreadsheets and templates within email marketing audit tools. 

Your spreadsheet should have columns for tracking your KPIs. When documenting your findings, ensure you maintain a clear structure. Always categorize the different sets of data you collect. 

Using different spreadsheets to record data when conducting several email audits simultaneously. This helps to streamline the whole auditing process.  

4. Analyze the data

Once you’ve successfully collected a substantial amount of data, it’s time to analyze it and draw conclusions. This is the most crucial stage of an email marketing audit because it’s where the real auditing begins. 

For instance, you’ll need to calculate your open rates when conducting a performance audit. To calculate this, divide the number of opened mail by the number of delivered mail and then multiply the result by 100. 

Here’s an example of what your spreadsheet could look like when you’re analyzing data: 

Email audit spread sheet

Image via SpeechSilver

If your open rates are low, there could be a problem with your subject lines or preheader texts. Also, the problem can be in the email list. If your open rates are high, evaluate the parts of your email strategy that work. Then, you can capitalize on them to maintain good open rates.

Here are some key questions you can answer to help you analyze your email performance: 

  • How many subscribers have you gained or lost over a specific period?
  • Are subscribers engaging more or less with the content of your email? 
  • What’s your overall email conversion rate?
  • Are your subscribers properly segmented? 
  • Are your emails accessible enough to all your subscribers across various demographics?
  • Are your email automations working as they should?
  • How can you keep your engagement metrics in the green zone?

5. Implement and optimize a new strategy

After you’ve analyzed the data, you can now run A/B testings to find your strengths and weaknesses. Use the insights from your analysis to update your email marketing strategy. 

For example, if your email marketing audit reveals that your email content is irrelevant or not catchy enough, you must revise the content of your email accordingly. Your future email content should be similar to the messages that produced positive results.  

If you consistently get positive results, you can now implement the new strategy across all facets. This proactive approach sustains the effectiveness of your email marketing audits. It helps you maintain a healthy email marketing system in the long run. 

Email marketing audit checklist

Here’s a quick email marketing audit checklist. These will help you avoid overlooking any crucial aspects and create a comprehensive email audit template: 

1. Check the quality of your content

Verify that your email content is informative, valuable, and well-structured to engage subscribers. Look out for the following:

  • Sender name: Ensure that the name you provide in the “from” field is clearly recognizable and accurately reflects your brand. 
  • Subject line & preheader text: Subject lines are the key factors that determine your email open rates. Verify that your subject lines and preheader texts are compelling. This is because they encourage subscribers to open and read your emails
  • Quality of email copy: Check for grammar and spelling errors. Ensure the copy is formatted correctly and aligns with your brand voice.
  • Email design and structure: Check your text-to-visual ratio. Ensure it’s appealing enough, but don’t overdo it with the visuals. Organize your message in a clear, engaging structure. This makes it easy to navigate and understand.
  • CTA: Verify that your CTA is clear and compelling. Also, ensure that it remains relevant to the email content. Remember to analyze the placement and design of CTAs that perform better and capitalize on them.

2. Check your email list health

The effectiveness of your email marketing audits depends on your email list health. For a healthy email list, consider the following: 

  • Subscriber segmentation: Analyze your subscriber segmentation to ensure your subscribers receive relevant emails. 
  • Invalid email addresses: Remove invalid email addresses. They can increase bounce rates and affect your deliverability. 
  • Inactive email addresses: Check the email addresses that are valid but inactive. Send re-engagement emails to establish a connection with them and keep them active.

3. Check your email marketing workflow

Analyze your workflows while you perform your audit. This allows you to determine if they optimize your marketing efforts. 

Look out for the following when analyze your workflows:

  • Automation: Discover how to use automation to streamline your workflow. Also, discover how to create a more efficient email marketing strategy with automation 
  • Timing: Evaluate how long your team takes to create messages. Check if they send the emails too late or too early in the funnel. Assess these factors to see if the timing works or if it needs more adjustments.
  • Response time: Analyze your response time to customer queries and frequency. If it is not up to your expected standards, you need to figure out the gaps and fix them. 

4. Check your email marketing platform

The choice of platform may significantly impact the success of your email marketing efforts. Look out for these key elements: 

  • Email compliance: Ensure that the email platform you choose complies with the laws, regulations, and best practices of email marketing. During every round of audit, check if you are adhering to the latest customer data policies to maintain a good sender reputation. 
  • Integration: Check if your email platform easily integrates with your website as well as the other marketing tools you use. This periodical check is essential to ensure valuable customer behavior data is not lost. A comprehensive analysis of this data is what will help you deliver great customer experiences.
  • Customization: Analyze your email platform to see if it offers advanced customization and personalization options. This is important to create personalized, highly targeted campaigns that will also build your brand personality. 

5. Check your performance based on KPIs and metrics

Ensure the right KPIs to measure the success of your marketing techniques are accurate. For example, your conversion rates might access the effectiveness of your CTAs. 

Open rates serve as a better KPI for analyzing your subject lines. However, not all open rates directly translate to a successful email marketing campaign. Your goals should guide your decision-making.    

Email auditing tools

The right tools make the email auditing process easier. It also enhances the efficiency of the audit and provides more accurate results. 

Here’s an overview of the necessary email auditing tools. They are essential for a successful email audit. 

Email Service Provider (ESP)

Choosing the right ESP can make your email campaign audit much easier. ESPs centralize your marketing metrics in an easily accessible database. It also provides comprehensive email campaign reports. 

These reports give you detailed insights into your email performance. They also highlight elements in your email marketing process that need improvement.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

A good CRM software gathers data and analyzes how well your customers respond to your email marketing campaigns. 

You can use CRM tools like HubSpot or Zoho CRM to generate leads from your email campaigns. They can also help you move prospects further down the marketing funnel. 

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Using good MAPs will help you leverage email automation to save time and resources. It will also help you close email marketing leads faster. Some of the best tools to achieve this include Omnisend and Brevo

Email testing tools

Use email testing tools to check the effectiveness of your email components when conducting an email marketing audit. For example, you can use Omnisend’s subject line tester to check the effectiveness of your subject lines. You can also use Mail Tester to check your email content for spam words. 

Email accessibility testing tools

An email accessibility tool analyzes the elements of your email to make it easily accessible to people with disabilities. It assesses the alt texts, images, and overall layout and identifies improvement areas. You can use tools like the Litmus Accessibility Checker and Email on Acid.

Maintenance after an email audit

Performing only an email audit is insufficient. Verifying that you properly implement the necessary changes is also essential. After that, closely monitor the results to ensure you’re still on track. 

It is also important to implement ongoing maintenance practices after an audit. This will sustain the effectiveness of the audit. A regular maintenance practice reduces the workload ahead of the next audit. 

Here are some key points to use as your guidelines during post-audit maintenance:

  • Regular list maintenance: You don’t have to wait until it’s time for email auditing to clean your email list. Closely monitor your email list and remove invalid subscribers as soon as you find them.  
  • Content optimization: Regularly review your email content to ensure you only provide relevant and valuable information to your subscribers. 
  • Email compliance: Stay up-to-date with recent email compliance regulations to ensure you always remain compliant. 
  • Regular testing: Always conduct regular A/B email tests to find the most effective marketing strategies.  
  • Workflow automation: Leverage email automation to streamline your workflow. Doing this will also optimize your email marketing efforts. 
  • Monitor KPIs: Keep a close eye on your email marketing metrics. Use the insights to make strategic email marketing decisions.
  • Monitor deliverability: If hard bounce emails go unnoticed, they can harm your email credibility. To avoid this, track your deliverability and resolve hard bounces as soon as they occur. 

Email marketing audit: Wrap up

The best way to analyze your email marketing ecosystem as a whole is by conducting an email marketing audit. It highlights your email marketing strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. 

Start by defining your goals before selecting KPIs to measure your results. Then, collect the necessary data on a spreadsheet. Follow up by using the data to make informed decisions about your email marketing strategy.

Remember that comprehensive email auditing can be a tedious process. So, it will likely be an all-hands-on-deck situation for you and your team. No one knows it all, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Finally, use ESPs like Mailchimp, ActiveCmpaign, Omnisend to help you remain email-compliant and optimize your email marketing efforts at all times.

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Stacy Kimbell
Stacy Kimbell
Co-founder & Chief Editor
Stacy Kimbell has nine years of experience in email marketing. She's worked with different email platforms and created many successful email campaigns for online and offline, well-established as well as family businesses. Stacy is excited to share her expertise with readers.

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