By Brett Farmiloe
I’m always surprised by what we uncover in an email marketing audit. Sometimes it’s the simple stuff, like an email campaign template not displaying correctly on mobile devices. Other times it’s a bigger item, like email campaigns going straight to spam folders.
Whatever the issue, conducting an email marketing audit identifies the problems and helps you come up with a solution. What should be included in an email marketing audit? Here are the nine most important factors that impact your email marketing performance.
If a company can achieve just a small increase in open rates (say 2 percent with each campaign), then opens, clicks and sales will all see a positive spike. That increase can come from better subject lines.
To analyze subject lines, export the reports for every email campaign into a spreadsheet. Organize the report into the campaigns with the highest and lowest open rates to identify commonalities. For example, do the majority of “winning” emails include an emoji in the subject line?
Then identify subject line recommendations. Our most common recommendations include A/B testing subject lines, using localization or personalization in subject lines, and keeping subject lines short (50 characters or fewer in our experience) to keep content fresh.
How do you build trust with readers? Having a trustworthy name that appears in a recipient’s inbox is a good place to start. There are two elements of the sender name: the “from” name and the sender email address. How is the sender name displayed in different email applications? Is the sender name getting cut off due to length? Is there a difference in performance depending on who sends the email? Use a name that makes it clear who you are as the sender and keep it consistent over time.
Personalization is what can make an email relevant to a subscriber. That personalization can be found within data fields and past campaign performance of an email list. Email address, first name and last name are standard data fields. But then there are more interesting e-commerce data fields like "date of last order" and "product purchased," or B2B data fields like "industry" or "job title."
What percentage of the list have values for these data fields? For example, does 20 percent of the list have a value for the “First Name” field, while 80 percent of the list is blank? By figuring out the percentages, you can figure out how to personalize campaigns based on available data.
Even if you don’t have the best data in your list, you do have the reports for previous campaigns. You can use these reports to personalize emails as well. How can your company use personalization to differentiate your email campaigns in a crowded inbox?
Body copy improves click rates, leads and sales. It's the content within a campaign that piques a subscriber’s interest in your offering. Analyze the email campaigns with the highest and lowest click rates. What are the commonalities within the content? Was a plain text or display email format used? What was said about a product or service that produced superior performance?
The best performing content is concise and compelling. Save time for yourself and for your readers by having a focus for your email campaign.
Image Content and Formate
Images shouldn’t obliterate inboxes and take a long time to load in an email application. They should be about 640 pixels in width and have a file size that is optimized for the web. Beyond a simple image size analysis, it’s also a good idea to analyze how email campaign images are representing your brand.
Calls to Action
What drives readers to click and convert? To determine the best calls to action, take a look at metrics like revenue or leads generated from email campaigns. Identify the best performing campaigns identified and look at the call to actions within the campaigns.
Were the call to actions the same? Was the call to action presented in an image, text link or button? Slight tweaks like changing the words of a button from “Learn More” to “Buy Now” or making the call to action clearer can have a big impact on email marketing results.
How do your emails appear on mobile devices? What about on email applications like Outlook versus Gmail? Simply test the inbox delivery to the most common devices and look at the user experience for each device. It’s amazing what improvements you’ll see in your email campaigns when looking through the lens of a customer.
How often should you send emails to subscribers? The key is to send regularly and consistently. Look at unsubscribe rates and unsubscribe comments. The unsubscribe comments left by former subscribers lend key insight into frequency. Are people unsubscribing because they receive too many emails from you? Or are they unsubscribing because they hadn’t heard from you in forever and forgot they were even on the list?
Take a look at who is doing the unsubscribing to learn more about finding the right frequency.
What are the best times and days to send emails to subscribers? We utilize MailChimp’s Send Time Optimization tool to ensure the best delivery time. This tool will analyze your list and make a send time recommendation based on past performance and your industry averages. From this tool, you’ll be able to at least identify which times on which days would be best for your email performance (Sunday at 4 p.m. Eastern verse Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern).
At the end of your email marketing audit, create a prioritized action plan and strategy to improve your efforts. What are the high, medium and low priority items that were identified in the analysis? List these items in separate categories, assign task owners to each item and then continue sending email campaigns that will get better results for your company.
Brett Farmiloe is the CEO of Markitors.