It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your email marketing program—rushing to get the next campaign out. It’s hard work! But if you’re on auto-pilot, you might neglect several strategic and structural areas of your program. While your marketing technology stack is advancing with new features, your marketing programs might not be.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s time to conduct an audit of your email marketing stack. Here’s a checklist that can help you identify areas that may need attention.
1. Managing your martech stack
The marketing technology landscape is constantly evolving. Not only are new offerings constantly coming to the market, but all your existing technologies are evolving as well. Assess these areas:
- New functionality. Are you making the best use of the features and functionality offered by your existing martech stack? At Oracle, we release new functionality and other improvements every quarter that help our customers do their jobs more easily and serve their customers better. Are you up to date on the latest releases for Oracle Responsys and Oracle Eloqua?
- Functionality gaps. Do you have gaps in your current functionality? Are there third-party apps or services that can fill them?
- Data availability. Is your data set up for success? Centralizing data and having the right access can help your marketing technology platform perform at a higher level.
- Validating changes. Whenever you add or start using new functionality, test to validate the effectiveness of your investment and identify where other enhancements can be made.
2. Fully leveraging automation
While marketing automation is a highly effective approach to campaign management, a “set it and forget it” mindset can be costly. Your automated campaigns are living and breathing campaigns that often impact your customers for years and typically generate high returns on investment (ROI). You need to regularly check on them. Here are some areas to evaluate:
- Regular quality assurance. Automated campaigns need maintenance. Otherwise, you end up with outdated copy, broken links, broken rendering, and other problems that seriously impact your customer’s experience.
- Regular optimization. Broadcast and segmented email campaigns are A/B tested at much higher rates than triggered campaigns even though updates to automated campaigns have longer-lasting effects and generate higher ROIs. When optimizing your automated campaigns, consider low, medium, and high level-of-effort improvements.
- Seasonal updates. Many automations can benefit from messaging and imagery changes that speak to the seasonal needs of your customers. For instance, during November and December, a retailer’s welcome email program could greet new subscribers with holiday imagery, direct them to gift-buying guides, and alert them to order-by deadlines. Consider creating a regular schedule of seasonal updates to your triggered campaigns.
- New automations. Building out a stable of optimized automated campaigns adds to your competitive advantage. Should any of your existing automations be segmented? Here’s a checklist of 110+ automated campaign ideas to explore.
3. Refreshing creative and improving workflows
Anytime your company updates the look and feel of its website or mobile app, that should automatically trigger a refresh of your email marketing creative. Beyond that, it’s important to implement updates that address email’s unique challenges and cater to your email subscribers’ needs. Consider the following:
- Inbox rendering changes. Inbox providers and devices are constantly evolving. Those changes can affect how your emails render and function across email clients.
- Inbox rendering enhancements. In addition to keeping up with changes in code support at the various inbox providers, improve your subscriber experience with design changes that keep up with current trends. For example, optimizing email for dark mode and improving email accessibility with inclusive design are two major focal points.
- A/B test design changes. Over time, campaigns need to be reviewed, assessed, and refined. Most brands do major redesigns of their emails at least every 12 months, but try to A/B test smaller changes regularly to collect insights that will inform those major redesigns.
- Add more personalization. Your customers expect email content tailored to them. Whether it’s through traditional personalization or driven by machine learning or AI, adding dynamic data will generally improve performance and customer satisfaction.
- Streamline email production. Having a clearly defined email development and approval process will help minimize disruptions. Having consistent and controlled templates will facilitate faster production and time to market. Many of our clients have implemented modular email architectures, which have reduced email build times for them by 25% to 40%.
4. Improving marketing performance
Your audience will change and so will their behaviors. Keep a close eye on the performance of your campaigns and segments. Review these areas:
- Assess campaign performance. How are your key performance indicators like conversion rates, campaign revenue, and revenue per subscriber trending? How are your channel health indicators like opens and clicks performing year over year? If you do see problems, identify the root cause of your performance issues to put the appropriate fixes in place.
- Measure audience engagement. An engaged customer is a valuable customer. Review what proportion of your database has engaged with your emails by looking at the percentage that has opened or clicked at least one of your email campaigns in the past 90, 180, 360, and 720 days. Review your strategies for managing your inactive subscribers. At what point are you suppressing your inactive contacts? How are you trying to reengage them and move your contacts up the ladder of engagement?
- Messaging mix assessment. Look at what proportion of your emails are batch-and-blast broadcast emails versus segmented versus triggered and transactional. Then review the performance of those different buckets. Your triggered communications may perform better, but how much time and energy are you investing in those? Can you reallocate resources from one bucket to another?
Shining a Spotlight
This email marketing audit checklist is exactly what we follow when working with our clients. We call it a Spotlight, and we find that clients who conduct them and act on the results perform significantly better over the next year.
For example, we used this email marketing audit approach to help a global telecommunications company make better use of their Eloqua platform and start work on implementing an account-based management (ABM) strategy. The audit identified several potential improvements, entailing database hygiene, data enhancement, lead score models, and reporting. In one case, there was a lead score model that hadn’t been reviewed in more than two years. It didn’t reflect their current campaign calendar nor the increase in web-based events. We restructured that model using a persona-based approach and it identified $4.2 million worth of new opportunities in just one month.
We also worked with a financial services company to do a performance analysis across customer campaigns at different stages in their lifecycle. We identified some simple improvements, including opportunities to use existing data to personalize campaigns. In total, the changes represented an estimated additional $7 million in program revenue, which the team is currently working toward.
Those are just two examples of the compelling results you can find when you take the time to do an annual email marketing audit. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your program, but it’s important to make time for strategic reviews so you can continue to grow.
Need help auditing your digital marketing program? Oracle Marketing Consulting has more than 500 of the leading marketing minds around the world ready to help you to achieve more with the leading marketing cloud, including Analytic & Strategic Services, Creative Services, and Performance Reporting Services teams to help you review your program, identify improvements, and help you execute them. To learn more, reach out to us at CXMconsulting_ww@oracle.com.