So you’re thinking it’s time to evaluate your email marketing program. Maybe you’re concerned that trends have changed, your content is outdated, or that you’re missing opportunities by not having a firm understanding of what’s working to drive results. It can seem like a daunting project. And depending on how complex your email marketing campaigns are, chances are, it’s unlikely that it’s a simple task.
There’s a lot that deserves regular review. Email marketing is a symphony of data, technology, content, strategy and workflows. If there’s any area that’s underperforming, it dulls the sound. So where do you begin to find the instruments that need tuning?
It starts with your goals for the assessment and your current pain points. Define what those are and that will guide the rest of your research and analysis. To get you started, here’s a few questions to ask yourself at the beginning steps of an email assessment. This can be turned into a survey for other key stakeholders who will impact, or be impacted by the results of the email assessment – day-to-day producers, marketing managers, sales managers, etc.
Questions to Ask Yourself at the Start of an Email Assessment
Phase 1: Set the Scope
Kick off things by defining your goals for the email assessment:
- What do you want to accomplish with an email assessment?
- Improve documentation of campaigns or workflows
- Identify issues with content or strategies (broken links, faulty segmentation, etc.)
- Create a list of actionable recommendations for improving current emails
- Identify opportunities to relieve workflow inefficiencies
- Do you want to focus on any area of the marketing funnel in particular?
- What areas of your email marketing strategy would you like to focus on and why?
- Services, Products and Content
- Email Creative and Content
- Segmentation and Marketing Automation Strategies
- Data Support for Marketing Automation Strategies
- List Acquisition and Compliance
- List Churn and Management
- Email Deliverability and Reputation
- Email Reporting and ROI
- Email Team Workflow and Efficiencies
- Email Service Provider Benefits and Limitations
- What are the desired deliverables and who needs to receive them?
- Data flow diagram (where are opt-ins coming from, where is email data stored, where do integrations exist, where are any stored data syncs or procedures happening and at what frequency, etc.)
- PowerPoint or Document outlining findings and opportunities
- Templates to standardize campaign documentation, creative briefs, planning, etc.
Phase 2: Research and Analysis
Depending on feedback from phase one, you can create a list of questions to help guide research and analysis. A few questions are repeated if they’re relevant in more than one focus area. If you’re compiling these questions into a stakeholder survey, you can remove the duplicates, or send only the sections of questions to the team members that will have the most perspective and feedback in those areas.
Services, Products and Content
- What types of content are you currently promoting?
- What types of content would you like to promote?
- Are there products or services that benefit from a seasonal or cyclical emphasis?
- What communications are mandatory?
Email Creative and Content
- Who is the audience for this message?
- What are the primary and secondary messages?
- What action should recipients take and why should they take that action?
- When do they receive the message?
- Where are they reading the message (device, email client, etc.)?
- Is the design optimized for my top subscriber devices and email clients?
- How is the success of the email measured?
- Is the email driving the desired success?
- Where does this email fit into the overall marketing strategy and goals?
- Does the email reflect current branding guidelines?
- Are there any broken links?
- Is there any outdated content?
- Does copy align with the way your organization is positioning your services and products?
- Which links are receiving the most clicks?
- Are you using a sending domain that is authenticated?
- Are your emails reflective of current email design trends?
- Is your subject line and preheader text relevant to your message and device-friendly?
Segmentation and Marketing Automation Strategies
- Outline any existing marketing automation integrations (ex: CRM).
- How do your email campaigns support your overall marketing strategy and goals?
- Outline your customer segments and email audiences (by campaign if necessary).
- How often do your different audience segments need to hear from you?
- What other tactics is your team using to communicate with existing customers? How does, or should, email support those other tactics?
- Do you have any automation or trigger-based marketing? Do you have written documentation of those automated workflows?
Data Support for Marketing Automation Strategy
- Are you collecting the necessary data points to drive desired email automation?
- What other additional information would you like to start collecting? How will you use it? How will you collect it?
List Acquisition and Compliance
- How does the organization structure affect list management, groups, content?
- How are / were email addresses collected? Describe your list growth strategies.
- Outline any existing marketing automation integrations (ex: CRM).
- What kind of customer data points are being stored?
- How is this information being transferred to your ESP?
- What expectation is being set for the subscriber at the time of opt-in (email frequency, content, etc.)? Are those expectations being met?
- How are you handling legal policies and data privacy regulations (GDPR, CCPR, etc.)?
- Is email accessibility a concern?
List Churn and Management
- Have you observed list growth / decline?
- What percent of your email subscriber list has engaged in the last 6 months? 12 months?
- How often are inactive subscribers purged? Are attempts made to re-engage?
- What percent of your email subscriber list has unsubscribed or hard bounced in the last 6 months? 12 months?
- What data cleansing services are used and how often? When was your last list cleanse?
Email Deliverability and Reputation
- What is your sending IP reputation?
- What is your sending domain reputation?
- Do you have proper means of email authentication set up for all sending domains?
- What is your typical inbox placement rate?
- Are you having deliverability trouble with particular ISP (AOL, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.)?
Email Reporting and ROI
- What are your email KPIs?
- How often do you report on active email campaigns?
- Are your emails driving the desired impact?
- How often are you A/B testing? What are you learning?
- Are you able to determine if email is creating a lift in other channels?
- How does the open, click and clicks-to-views rate compare to historical and/or industry averages (list by campaign if desired)?
- Which campaigns or emails are driving the most engagement? The least engagement?
- Does lifecycle stage or segmentation play a role in the results?
- Are there any campaigns where the bounce, unsubscribe or complaint rates are higher than average?
Email Team Workflow and Efficiencies
- How might organization structure affect list management, groups, content?
- How many team members are involved in the email planning, creation, deployment and reporting processes?
- What is the internal approval process before an email is sent?
- Do you have adequate permissions for each team member in your ESP?
- What are the current pain points and challenges?
- Document key workflows for planning, creation, deployment and reporting processes. Who is involved and how long does it typically take each team member to complete their responsibilities?
Email Service Provider Benefits and Limitations
- Are you happy with your current email service provider?
- Does your provider have a feature set that allows you to work efficiently?
- Does your provider have a feature set that lets you carry out desired segmentation, creative and reporting strategies?
- Are there features your provider doesn’t have that you wish they did?
- Are there pain points that another email service provider could potentially resolve?
Phase 3: Recap Findings and Recommendations
The final phase of an email assessment is summarizing key findings and documenting strengths and opportunities. The questions in the first two phases should allow you to gather information that provides a comprehensive look at what’s working well and what could use improvement. After you bring it all together, you should be left with a road map for future email success (which you can learn more about here).