Audit Checklist for your Email Marketing Toolkit

To start the quarter on a good note, catch errors and identify opportunities for optimization via a thorough audit of your email program. Taking a look at how things are running right now is also worthwhile to rectify within your email marketing campaigns space. 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 wrong if they are not carefully monitored. So to avoid such issues, here is an audit checklist to help you start the year off right:

1. Infrastructure

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.
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Sometimes things don’t get updated as they should as your business changes, 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 Domain Keys 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 this already.
  • IP reputation: I suggest using tools like Sender Score and Sender Base to check your sending IP reputation.
  • 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, such as 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. Competitive analysis tools can be extremely valuable for detecting if your current infrastructure is problematic. Additionally, these tools can help identify all your email, including those emails that may be impacting your reputation.

2. Automation

This is nothing but audit of message content and it is important to take time to do a thorough audit your automated messages. Confirm that they’re still working properly, as links can change, images can be moved or deleted and reply mailboxes can get 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. Most importantly, validate program integrations through API and batch integrations when things go wrong.

3. Experience

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.old-men-iphone-flickr-10858946293_b63aa037d4_z

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 a different platform is a different experience. 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 half-year audit is an invaluable process that helps to identify the necessary changes, errors and mistakes that need immediate remediation. It is also beneficial as you create your wishlist of program improvements, which you can implement over the coming rest of the year.

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