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Evaluating Your Email Program: A Handy Checklist

Cari Rosenberger

Creative professional at workYour open rates are on a consistent decline. Your click-through rates are embarrassing. And your deliverability is not what it used to be. These are the signs of an email program that is greatly in need of some help.

But that’s not the only time you should be evaluating your email program.

In fact, like most things, you don’t want to wait until you have a clear, cut and dried issue with your email program. Maybe your open rates and click-throughs are consistent. Maybe you’ve even hit some above average metrics over the last two months. Whatever your metrics say, it’s important to evaluate your email program at least once a quarter. Here’s how to get started:

Email Sending/Deliverability Best Practices

You created an email message and hit send. It’s on its way to your subscribers. Right? Not necessarily. There are a number of factors that can affect your deliverability rates. Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating your sending practices:

  • Is your email program in compliance with standards for the countries subscribers are from such as CASL or CAN-SPAM?
  • Was your list build from opt-ins (as opposed to being bought or rented)?
  • Is there an obvious unsubscribe link?
  • Do you send on a regular, consistent schedule?
  • Are you using a suitable email platform to manage and maintain subscriber data?

Other sending practices to take note of include:

  • Using an email sending address on a sub-domain of the main brand domain
  • Sending a welcome email/series to new subscribers in a timely manner
  • Using Return Path or a similar service to maximize deliverability and gain insight into sender reputation
  • Having a documented testing and QA process in place that is executed for every send
  • Ensuring high deliverability by adhering to ISP standards (i.e. sending a limited amount per hour for ISPs such as AOL and Comcast).
  • Utilizing seed lists or including company employees on subscriber lists to ensure there are no issues with the actual email send
  • Subscribers are segmented and sent emails relevant to them instead of mass sending

Finally, make sure there is a clear email strategy in place with goals to measure by, as well as A/B testing opportunities to purse when developing future email sends.

Email Content Strategy

Every marketing channel should have its own corresponding content strategy—and email is no exception. Each channel also has its own tone and style. For example, the language you use in a press release is very different from a social post, which is also very different from an email.

When writing for email, make sure each send:

  • Has a clear content focus
  • Tells a story that helps to shape the brand’s personality
  • Contains relevant content with important information and main call to action (CTA) at the top
  • Contains content that supplements any images
  • Has a subject line and body content that complement each other
  • Has a subject line that entices the subscriber to open the message
  • Contains a pre-header that adds to or expands upon the subject line
  • Avoids spam words in subject line and body content
  • Includes CTAs that are descriptive and encourage interaction
  • Avoids off-brand messages or ads

Most importantly, you want to constantly monitor and test your content, whether that means trying new CTA language or creating new themes around each send.

Email Design Best Practices

How your email looks is equally as important as what it says. Here are some quick things to consider when evaluating the overall look of your sends:

  • The design uses colors and images that are consistent with the brand, while also using strong contrast for readability
  • Uses websafe fonts and high quality images
  • The email is designed for 580px to 700px width
  • The email is not excessively long requiring endless scrolling
  • Has a consistent header and footer
  • A view online or view in browser link is included
  • Provides a balance of images and text
  • Includes ALT tags for the images
  • Email is rendered or tested in variety of email clients and devices
  • Uses buttons over text-based links to make the CTA stand out

While the above may seem like a hefty list, they’re important items to consider as you grow and expand your email marketing campaign. Again, we recommend performing this evaluation every quarter. This is the best way to ensure you catch small issues before they grow into something much more difficult to bounce back from.

Not sure where to start when it comes to evaluating your email program? We can help with that. Contact Pierry Software today to learn more about our email scorecard audit, as well as our strategy services.