To start the year on a good note, catch errors and identify opportunities for optimization via a thorough audit of your email marketing program.
It’s common to use the beginning of the year to look back at what you’ve achieved in the past year or to plan for what you wish to accomplish in the next 12 months. But one shouldn’t forget the present, either. Taking a look at how things are running right now is also worthwhile.
In the hustle and bustle of campaign planning, creation, and execution, it’s easy to lose track of all the moving parts of your email program – particularly those parts that can go awry if they are not carefully monitored. To avoid such issues, here is an email audit checklist to help you start the year off right:
Your infrastructure is bulletproof and unchanging, in theory. In the real world, mistakes happen and errors can creep into any setup. New campaigns, new platforms, and system updates can all cause unexpected problems.
As your business changes, sometimes things don’t get updated as they should, so it is important to double check these key areas:
- DNS: Make sure this is correct for your marketing emails in both forward and reverse lookups.
- Authentication: Be sure that the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records are complete and your emails are correctly signed with DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM).
- Domain-based message authentication, reporting, and Conformance (DMARC): Now is a great time to review your reports for any anomalies or issues, if you aren’t routinely doing so already.
- Reply and response addresses: Confirm they all still work and are being processed appropriately. It’s easy for reply mailboxes to get forgotten.
- Template links: Check all those standard links that appear in every email – the legal terms and conditions, privacy, and so on. Are the pages still relevant and up-to-date? Also, check the unsubscription process end-to-end, as well as the sharing links — forward to a friend, social sharing, and so forth.
When performing an infrastructure audit, it’s important to have a clear picture of all the emails being sent for your brand. In larger organizations, the left-hand doesn’t always know that the right hand even exists. Competitive analysis tools can be extremely valuable for detecting any problems in your current infrastructure. Additionally, these tools can help identify all your emails, including those that may be impacting your reputation.
I previously wrote about the myths and magic of automation – and as I mentioned before, automated messaging is not something to fire and forget.
Audit of message content
It is important to take time at the beginning of the year to do a thorough audit of your automated messages. Confirm that they’re still working properly, as links can change, images can be moved or deleted, and reply mailboxes can become forgotten, filled, or removed. Changes to your business operations can invalidate or make some automated campaigns irrelevant, so make sure that they’re still pertinent and correctly targeted. Likewise, the business rules may need updating.
Validate program integrations
API and batch integrations should flag an error when things go wrong, but sometimes things can fall through the cracks. I can’t even count the number of times that data processing flaws have slipped past unnoticed.
Perhaps the most valuable step is to truly experience your own program.
Go through your email subscription process, and evaluate how it’s actually working — not just the website subscription method but all the ways you add subscribers to your list. Do you collect point of purchase subscriptions? Does your program use co-registration? Test each process, and evaluate the experience from a customer’s perspective.
After subscribing to your own program, stay with it for a while to truly experience what it’s like to be on the receiving end of your own email program. Are you sending quality content at a reasonable frequency?
Try reading your emails on a device and platform other than your normal one. I’m sure that you already use render testing to check how things look, but actually reading and responding to email on various platforms creates different experiences. Try Yahoo instead of Outlook or Safari on an iPad instead of Chrome on your laptop. See how it feels as a user. Is it as good as it should be?
To sum up
Performing a start of year email audit is an invaluable process that helps to identify the necessary changes, errors, and mistakes that need immediate remediation. It is also beneficial to have your email audit results as you create your wishlist of program improvements, which you can implement over the coming year.
Need more information on performing an email audit or assistance taking your email program to the next level? Reach out the email experts at Trendline today.
Chief Technology Officer