Imagine for a moment that your email inbox is an actual physical mailbox. A metal box atop a wooden post situated right outside your office.
No doubt that mailbox is bursting at the seams. Emails are spilling out, blowing down the hall, and sticking in dark corners never to be seen again.
That visual isn’t a stretch. 306 billion emails are sent every day. BILLION—with a B! That number is expected to reach 361 billion by 2024.
While that number signals opportunities for some, others would rather go all Office Space and destroy their inbox.
We recommend you resist the urge to upend your inbox, and here’s why. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage your audiences.
Forty-one percent of email and marketing specialists and executives say email marketing is “very critical” to their company’s overall success (eMarketer, 2021).
Litmus’ 2021 State of Email Report found 79% consider email to be one of their top three marketing channels. So, despite the overwhelming number of emails sent to consumers every day, marketers still find ways to break through the clutter.
Elevate your email marketing with an audit
Speaking of breaking through the clutter, do you feel like your organization’s emails are the ones getting stuck in dark office corners? Wondering where you can improve?
The first place we suggest starting is with an email audit. An email audit helps you see your email program holistically. Instead of getting bogged down in open rates and single-send statistics, an audit gives you a 30-thousand-foot view.
An audit can uncover deliverability issues, areas for content improvement, list clean-up opportunities, and data gaps. Even if you have great emails, a consistent plan, and an engaged audience, we guarantee there are still ways to improve.
Let’s walk through the nine elements you should analyze when conducting your email audit.
1. Audience overview
Think about your organization’s target audiences. Are you currently targeting these same types of individuals with your email campaigns? You should be.
Make note of your target audiences’ job titles, seniority levels, and industries. Document why these audiences need your product or service and why they choose to partner with you.
Documenting and understanding who your emails are for will help ensure your campaigns are aligned to those audiences. When you know who you’re speaking to, your messaging is more likely to resonate with them.
2. Email infrastructure
Next, consider the email platform you’re using. Common email platforms include Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Marketo, Hubspot, and Mailchimp.
The best platform meets the Goldilocks standard: not too hot, not too cold. Just right.
Your platform shouldn’t be so big that you’re paying for something you don’t need or so small that you’re limited. It should be just the right size to execute and scale.
Explore other platforms and determine if yours is in that sweet spot. If it’s not, find one that’s the right cost, has the features you need, and addresses the challenges you have.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Does this platform have the necessary features?
- Is the cost of the system justified?
- What are the challenges of this platform?
3. List quality
The quality and size of your email marketing list plays a big role in the success of your campaigns.
If you’re unsure how many subscribers you have and struggle to connect contact lists to your email platform, this is a clear area for improvement.
Think about the last time you cleaned your email list. Regular list cleaning impacts campaign performance too.
Cleaning and maintaining your email subscriber list enhances deliverability and makes sure the people who want your content get it, and those who don’t are unsubscribed.
The final element of list quality is segmentation, a necessary step to ensure you’re sending the right message to the right subscriber at the right time.
Segmented emails make readers 50% more likely to click on a link.
You can segment your audience based on things like their industry or seniority level. Basically, if there’s a segment of your audience that you can and should send unique content to, do it.
4. Baseline metrics
Just like with any campaign, it’s important to know which metrics you can track, which you want to track, and what your baselines for those metrics are.
Analyze previous campaigns—if you have them—and look at your bounce rate, open rate, and click-through rate. Then, determine what an average is across your industry and compare.
As you run future campaigns, measure yourself against your baseline and the industry standard to track improvement.
5. Content review
The content in your emails should reflect subscribers’ needs and how your organization can help solve them. List the types of content you’re currently sharing in your emails.
Examples of content types include:
- Blog articles
- Educational resources
- Letters from the company
- Case studies
Dive back into your email analytics and see which content types get the most clicks. It’s a clue to what engages your audience most.
6. Best/worst performing
While you’re in your analytics, look at open rates over the last six months to a year. Which was your best- and worst-performing email?
Compare things like the subject lines, time of year, click-through rates, and the content within. Think about why your best-performing email did well. And conversely, why audiences didn’t respond to your worst-performing email.
Knowing this will influence future campaigns. Test the positive aspects of your best email to see if they consistently result in higher open rates and engagement.
The day(s) and time(s) you send emails should be documented as part of your email audit. If you have different types of emails that are sent on different days, note those details.
Determine whether there is any correlation between the send day(s) and performance. Do you get more clicks on Mondays? Were your worst-performing emails always sent on Friday?
In some cases, you’ll need additional testing to clarify which send days and times are best.
The best email automations take the burden off the marketing team and add value to your subscribers. The biggest benefits of email automations include saved time, lead generation, and increased revenue.
Research shows that 60% of global leaders say their email marketing team’s workload increased in 2020, and that hasn’t slowed down (SparkPost, 2021).
Automated email marketing is an effective way to reduce the strain on your team and establish consistency. The most common automated emails workflows are onboarding, abandoned cart, mixed-channel, re-engagement, sales support, feedback/review, and date-based.
9. Process + workflow
Finally, the most efficient email programs have a well-defined planning process. Those involved know their responsibilities and timelines and have shared access to the editorial calendar.
Your audit should include a list of the tools, programs, and workflows your team uses to stay organized. Integrations like RSS feeds should be noted.
Benefits of having a partner for your audit
For teams that don’t have the time to complete an audit themselves, hiring an objective partner is a good alternative.
Sometimes being so close to a project creates blinders. You’re so zoomed-in on the day-to-day that it’s hard to see your email marketing strategy at a high level.
Partnering with email experts can give you new perspective and a fresh set of eyes. Outside opinions and skillsets will challenge you and make your email marketing better.
Curious about our expertise?
We’ve been partnering with Priority Health on its email marketing since 2014.