With ever-changing email best practices and privacy regulations, and challenges piling up for businesses worldwide, email programmes can’t be a set-it-and-forget-it component of marketing strategies anymore. On the contrary, they need to demonstrate good returns – both direct, such as click through rate, and indirect, such as the difference in active subscribers.

A solid email programme consists not only of clever subject lines and enticing creative, but also the important parts that customers can’t see, like deep consideration and analysis of the parts of an organisation’s strategy. Every step of the way, aiming for continual optimisation and iteration is key to ensure the business maintains a healthy and highly efficient email strategy. This key objective can be achieved by performing regular audits.

An email audit is an assessment of a current email programme, with the scope to identify potential issues and optimise performance. Email audits can be perceived as a hassle, but actually they can help businesses stay ahead of the curve and gain significant advantages, such as improved compliance, higher customer satisfaction rate, measurable return on investment, and lower cost per email. Furthermore, they can help detect and resolve email delivery problems that can lead to serious losses, like lost revenue and market share.

There are 7 audits that we’d suggest every company needs to perform regularly, to keep their email programme in ship-shape as external variables change and may impact the effectiveness of their strategy.

Acquisition Audit: Signing up new customers or prospects to your newsletters is important to keep the communication going – but equally important is to evaluate if all the new customer experience performs as intended. Brands have broken acquisition sources and processes more than you’d imagine, causing disappointment to potential new subscribers right at the point when they’re ready to give permission. Acquisition audits can help keep customers engaged and satisfied from the very beginning.

Unsubscribe Audit: It is crucial to regularly check and confirm that unsubscribe links and processes are working. Not just for protecting your brand’s reputation, but also for ensuring compliance with EU and global regulations.

Template Audit: A template audit will help you ensure that templates continue to render well across most environments, have functioning links, have branding, messaging and footer language that are still current. With customers being more mobile than ever, businesses should confirm that rendering works well across all popular environments, and on mobile devices in particular.

Data and Integration Audit: Data is a critical asset. It’s essential to keep an eye on the flow of information to and from your ESP to ensure that data is integrated properly and without latency, and that the integrity of your targeting is intact and without errors.

Privacy Audit: Checking that the privacy policy, privacy statements in email and the process and verbiage at the point of acquisition meet the legal and regulatory standards is a necessary part of healthy email programmes. Take it one step further by ensuring that your privacy statements and forms are easy to understand and not in confusing legal jargon.

Deliverability Audit: Whether you’re building a high-growth consumer service or enterprise software, email plays a critical role in engaging and retaining your customers. Customers churn when emails are lost in spam folders or delayed. A deliverability audit will help you significantly improve reach and success of marketing programmes, ensuring that customers receive your communications on time.

Competitive Intelligence Audit: Email marketers want (and need) to benchmark their performance and activity against others. A competitive intelligence audit will help you see innovations happening in the inbox and where your organisation fits, in comparison – so you remain ahead of the competition. Sam Holding, Head of International, SparkPost