Do you hear the word “audit” and head for the hills? Don’t. They’re not that bad!
Audits: Not As Bad As You Think
Today, we’re going to talk about audits. In my opinion, audits have a bad rep. But a properly-executed audit can be a pivotal turning point for your email program.
Under a qualified assessment, an audit can provide valuable insight on weaknesses in your email program and highlight the strengths that you should reinforce.
But you need to know what to look for when your audit is completed!
To help you with the process, I’m going to provide three key check points that your audit should reveal. With these three points, you can truly leverage your audit for positive change.
The first hallmark of a good audit is that it reveals a strategic direction. Think of a strategic direction as a set of recommendations based on a reflection of your existing email marketing processes.
The direction laid out by the audit should be reflective of the plans surrounding your email marketing, overall marketing, and business. It should also be realistic – given your time and resource constraints.
Carefully internalize each detail in the strategic direction. If you have a fledgling email marketing program, you may be overwhelmed by a deluge of recommendations.
But remember that this is a journey. It may be helpful to categorize the details into three categories:
- Essential to complete in three months
- Essential to complete in six months
- Essential to complete in one year
This approach to prioritization will help you address each issue with focus and due diligence.
And just like a successful treasure hunt, the strategic direction should lead to a definitive set of goals.
Just as important as a strategic direction, your audit should specify a list of goals. After all, you don’t want to invest time and resources in the journey without a clear vision of where the journey leads.
The goals should be directly correlated with findings in the audit (both strengths and weaknesses), and should be closely tied with every detail in the strategic direction.
Your goals should ultimately have an impact on the big picture – retention of your email subscriber base and generation of sales revenue.
Goals should be quantifiable and ideally measured through metrics, such as Open Rate or Conversion Rate.
Goals can be viewed in two primary categories:
- Processes – Drive efficiency and turnaround time to improve responsiveness to customers and marketplace conditions
- Effectiveness – Increase ability to convert existing subscribers into regular customers
Goals are also important to help you recognize the successes and victories that will pop up along the way. They can serve as a great basis for celebration amongst your marketing team and your organization.
In “email marketing,” the operative word is “email.” And by default, email requires technology.
The final hallmark of a good email marketing program audit is the recommendation of technology. Whether it’s insight on how to leverage technology better by building autoresponders, or replacing your Email Service Provider (ESP), an effective audit is reflective of the technology available in the marketplace.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a good audit will recommend only the most cutting-edge and expensive technological doo-dad out there. Far from it. A good audit will make a recommendation on technology based on the strategic direction and the goals.
But at the same time, reality is reality. If you are running a 1940s Eniac machine, you will not be able to achieve the results of a Short Circuit robot.
With technology, it will be contingent on three primary factors:
- Your strategic direction and goals
- Your budget
- The time you are willing invest in changing processes and infrastructure to accommodate the recommended changes in technology
As a rule of thumb, I would recommend against making radical changes in your technology without fully exhausting every last capability of your existing technological solution.
In conclusion, I recommend that you view an audit less as a report card and more as a window of opportunity.
An audit is a valuable means to solicit an objective opinion on your email marketing program, gather your thoughts into a cohesive plan, and guide the direction of your change to a higher level of performance.
I hope that this post has been helpful to your email marketing endeavors.
If you would like a free audit of your email marketing program, or if you’d like to learn more about Exclusive Concepts’ Optimized Email Marketing program, please call James at