Email Marketing Audit – Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Scott Cohen

Published on: 08-14-2023

Scott is the CEO at InboxArmy and has more than 20 years of experience in email marketing.

In email marketing, there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it.” Responsible marketers know that good marketing requires continuous assessment and improvement. In this article, we’ll be exploring the intricacies and benefits of email marketing audit.

What Is An Email Marketing Audit?

An email audit helps you identify what’s working and what’s not working. Through an audit, you will assess your email data, analytics, and strategy to understand the performance of crucial email marketing variables including contact data, audience and list segmentation, email templates, design, and more.

An email marketing audit gives you the data you need to review progress and make necessary, data-driven changes to optimize your email marketing strategy. The audit will also help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends so you don’t lag behind competitors.

Email Marketing Audit Benefits

Email Marketing Audit Benefits

When done right, an email audit can steer you in the right direction and help you improve key performance metrics like click-through rates and conversions. With this data, trends, and insights in hand, you can make the right decisions for lasting business success.

An email marketing audit is essential for a number of reasons:

1. Understand Your Audience

An email audit helps you better understand your audience’s preferences and the type of content they best respond to. Using these insights, you can tailor your email copy and design to meet their expectations and deliver value.

: You may discover that your subscribers are more likely to open emails with subject lines with discounts or offers. You can then use this insight to be creative with subject lines, and A/B test different versions to pinpoint the trends in top performers.

2. Improve Deliverability Rates

Through an deliverability audit, you’ll evaluate your email lists and segments and potentially uncover deliverability issues. By finding these now, you can enhance your deliverability and minimize your risk of landing in the spam folder.

Example: You may find that a specific domain is facing deliverability issues (i.e. Microsoft) when compared to other domains. By gaining the knowledge of the make-up of your lists, you can address these issues head-on by splitting sends by domain and engagement levels to customize content and send frequency to improve your email deliverability rates.

3. Boost Engagement

The audit can help you identify your best-performing emails and allow you to replicate their success in future campaigns, increasing engagement rates and ensuring your emails stand out.

Example: Your audit may show that emails sent on a Tuesday morning generate more engagement than those sent on other days. With this knowledge, you can then change your sending cadence to maximize your best days, improve engagement, and potentially grow your list.

4. Identify Gaps and Uncover Growth Opportunities

An audit can help you both find “the holes” in your program as well as discover hidden growth opportunities you may have missed and capitalize on them for better results.

Example: You may notice that specific segments of your list have better engagement rates than others. You can prioritize these segments in your campaign strategy in the short-term to boost conversion while building broader test plans for other audiences.

5. Stay Up to Date with Trends:

Audits also ensure you stay competitive in your industry and capitalize on these changes to keep your campaigns fresh and engaging.

Example: You may find that certain types of visuals or subject lines are trending in the industry and can test incorporating them into your campaigns to drive engagement.

6. Measure Success

It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day or week-to-week grind of email marketing. It ensures that you are looking at both short-term and long-term performance metrics to determine the places where you’re seeing success and the places where you’re not. It also ensures you’re looking at the right data points, and not just “vanity” metrics.

Example: You may be tracking open rate, click-through rate, and other metrics but not paying attention to the overall ROI. An audit can help you spot these gaps and improve your campaigns.

7. Increase Return on Investment (ROI)

This is ultimately what you want: Revenue and ROI. The audit provides a basis for you to optimize your email marketing strategy, send more relevant and engaging emails to your subscribers, and ultimately improve your ROI.

The Anatomy of an Email Marketing Audit

Let’s explore the essential components and processes involved in conducting a comprehensive evaluation of your email marketing strategy.

Email Marketing Performance Audit

Define clear objectives for the audit, such as improving open rates, increasing click-through rates, boosting subscriber engagement, or enhancing overall ROI. Establish specific key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success, aligned with your organization’s broader marketing goals.

Content and Design Audit

Evaluate email content for clarity, relevance, and alignment with brand guidelines. Assess design elements for responsiveness, visual appeal, and mobile optimization. Ensure that the messaging and visuals effectively convey the intended call-to-action (CTA) and encourage subscriber interaction.

List Management and Segmentation

Analyze subscriber lists for quality — identify and remove inactive or invalid email addresses. Review segmentation to ensure that emails are targeted and personalized based on subscriber preferences, behaviors, and demographics.

Compliance and Deliverability Audit

Conduct a thorough review of email marketing practices to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations (e.g., GDPR, CAN-SPAM Act). Verify that email campaigns include proper opt-in/opt-out mechanisms, accurate sender information, and transparent privacy policies.

Automation and Workflow Assessment

Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of email automation workflows. Review trigger-based sequences, timing of automated emails, and personalization tactics. Optimize automation processes to deliver timely and relevant messages to subscribers throughout their customer journey.

How To Do An Email Marketing Audit

How to do an email marketing audit (step by step guide)

A good email audit takes time and diligence. Let’s examine the steps to successfully performing a comprehensive audit.

What’s your goal?

What’s your goal? Why did you launch your email program in the first place? You need to define clear goals for your email program and align with your entire team so everyone is on the same page.

Establish key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

You can’t know where you want to go until you know where you’ve been. And no audit can be completed without setting a baseline against which to measure your progress.

Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) immediately. Focus on practical metrics like orders, purchase rates, revenue per email, SQLs generated from emails, etc. View “vanity metrics” like open rate as directional and never the end-all-be-all. Then establish what those current performance metrics are so what you know what to measure your program changes against.

Define What You’re Auditing Specifically

Make a list of email elements you want to audit, such as subject lines, content, sender name, etc. This will help you structure the audit process and ensure that every element is evaluated confidently.

Gather Data

Gather all the data required to evaluate each email element and compare it against your set KPIs. This should include past performance reports, customer feedback, industry benchmarks, survey results–basically anything that is relevant to your program and your business.

Analyze And Identify Patterns Within The Data

Dig into the data and see what’s working and what’s not working. Look out for trends in engagement rates, list growth, bounce rates, order rates, average revenue, etc. Look for patterns in engagement and conversion–particularly around time-of-day or day-of-week sends, customer segments, or targeted content and messaging.

Identify Opportunities For Improvement

Call the baby “ugly.” Declare no “sacred cows.” Whatever it takes to be honest and straightforward to get a good solid list of necessary improvements and test ideas down on paper (or OneNote, or whatever). No great email program is ever finished.

Take Action

Implement your changes and track their performance over time using the KPIs you set at the beginning of the audit process. This will help you understand whether actions taken are making an impact.

Here’s a bonus step plus a free general tip:

Bonus Step: Put your next audit on the calendar to review regularly

We just said it. No great email program is ever finished. So go ahead and schedule your next audit to repeat this process. Reviewing your email program regularly is important to adjust to changing email trends, customer needs, and performance.

Tip: Always optimize for mobile

Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the main channel of email access. So it is vital to optimize your emails for mobile viewing. This means ensuring that all content is formatted correctly and appropriately displayed on various devices.

Email Marketing Audit Checklist

Email Marketing Audit Checklist

If you’re planning an email audit anytime soon, this checklist would be a good starting point. Using this checklist, you can evaluate various aspects of your email campaigns, ensuring alignment with best practices, compliance requirements, and overall effectiveness.

Email lists

The first step for email marketing campaign success is to ensure that your list is regularly updated and segmented well. Here are some questions to audit your email list –

  • Do you have an up-to-date list of customers?
  • Is the list segmented according to customer interests and preferences?
  • Are you proactively removing inactive customers to clean your email lists?
  • Are your email lists compliant with data privacy laws and regulations?
  • Is there a strategy in place to build and grow your email lists?
  • Have you implemented double opt-in to ensure quality over quantity?
  • Are bounced emails being tracked and cleaned regularly to maintain list health?
  • Are you personalizing and customizing your emails based on the segments of your email list?
  • Are you regularly analyzing your unsubscribe rate and making the necessary adjustments?

Email content

Your email content should authentically reflect your brand’s voice and values to leave a lasting impact. Key elements like a clear call-to-action (CTA) button, compelling images, engaging copy, and social sharing buttons are essential for driving customer engagement.

Incorporate A/B testing to gauge user interactions with various content and subject line variations. This approach helps pinpoint what resonates best with your audience and identifies areas for improvement in your email marketing strategy. These questions will help you to audit your content

  • Does the email content reflect your brand values and voice?
  • Is the language used appropriate for your target audience?
  • Is your content easy to read and understand?
  • Is there a clear call to action included?
  • Is the content optimized for mobile devices?
  • Are images used to enhance the content?
  • Is the content clear and concise?
  • Are you using A/B testing to evaluate how users interact with different content versions?
  • Have you included social sharing buttons to encourage engagement on other platforms?

Segmentation And Automation

Another key aspect of your audit checklist is ensuring customers receive relevant emails at the right moments. This involves evaluating the effectiveness of your segmentation strategies and reviewing your automation workflows.

Here are some questions to kick off your assessment:

  • Are you segmenting your customers based on where they are in your product or service lifecycle?
  • Are you leveraging personalization tactics to increase customer engagement?
  • Is the email content tailored to reflect customers’ buying behavior and interests?
  • Does the automation strategy prioritize relevant content for each customer segment?
  • Are you using dynamic content personalized for individual customers based on their preferences?
  • Have you implemented segmentation rules to ensure customers receive the right emails at the right time?
  • Is there a email testing process to measure the effectiveness of content and email marketing automation?
  • Have you created specific customer journeys for different stages of the purchase cycle?

Marketing Performance

Assessing your email marketing performance is crucial for identifying areas of improvement in your campaigns. Start by analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. Take a deeper dive into performance analysis by gathering insights on:

  • How well are subject lines performing?
  • Do your preheaders engage customers and communicate the value proposition?
  • Are your hero images and headers effective in driving customer engagement?
  • Are you leveraging compelling visuals to support your message?
  • Are customers clicking on the CTA buttons?
  • Are you using tracking links to measure performance across campaigns?
  • Are you A/B testing different versions of your content to identify peak engagement?
  • Do you have insights into customer loyalty and churn rates across campaigns?
  • What are the average open, click-through, bounce, and unsubscribe rates?
  • What days of the week drive the best engagement?
  • What times of day drive the best engagement?
  • What types of content drive the most engagement?

Design And Customer Experience

Your email design plays a crucial role in driving click-through rates. When a recipient opens your email and finds the design unresponsive or unappealing, they may quickly lose interest and close it without engaging further.

That’s why it’s essential to prioritize elements like whitespace, optimized images, and consistent branding. These factors not only enhance readability but also boost engagement with your email content.

To audit your design and customer experience –

  • Are customers able to view the email content on any device?
  • Is the email design responsive and optimized for mobile devices?
  • Does the email follow a consistent brand style guide?
  • Is there enough white space between elements to make it easy to read?
  • Are all visuals, fonts, buttons, and colors uniform across different campaigns?
  • Are the emails visually appealing and inviting to drive customer action?
  • Have you implemented accessibility standards in email design to support users with special needs or disabilities?
  • Is there enough contrast between background images, text, and other elements on the page for better readability?
  • Are you providing an easy way for customers to opt out of future emails?

Frequency And Timing

How often are you sending emails to your customers? If you’re experiencing a high unsubscribe rate, it’s crucial to examine the timing and frequency of your email campaigns. Consider these questions:

  • How often are you sending emails to your customers?
  • Are the timing and frequency of emails appropriate for each customer segment?
  • Are you using time zone settings to ensure emails reach customers at the right time?
  • Is there a consistent cadence in email campaigns, or have they become sporadic over time?
  • Are you taking into account customer preferences in email frequency and timing?
  • Are there any seasonal or holiday trends that may influence the timing of emails?

Avoid overwhelming your subscribers with excessive emails. By analyzing historical data, you can pinpoint peak engagement periods and adjust send times accordingly.

Infrastructure And Deliverability  

To maximize your email deliverability rate, it’s crucial to assess your email infrastructure and delivery practices. For instance, you need to make sure that you’re using a reputable email service provider known for high deliverability rates.

At the same time, ensure you’ve implemented sender authentication mechanisms like DKIM and SPF to prevent your emails from being flagged as spam or suspicious.

  • Are emails being sent from reliable email service providers with high deliverability rates?
  • Is the sender domain configured correctly to maximize inbox placement?
  • Are you using sender authentication mechanisms like DKIM and SPF to ensure that your emails are not marked as spam or suspicious?
  • Do you have insight into email delivery performance over time, including open and click-through rates?
  • Are you using tracking technologies like Google Analytics to monitor the campaigns?
  • Are emails being tested across different devices and browsers for a better user experience?
  • Are you optimizing content for mobile users more likely to access emails on their phones?


Ensuring your emails are accessible to all subscribers, including those with disabilities, is crucial for maximizing performance. Here are some key practices to assess and improve accessibility:

  • Are emails being tested for accessibility issues like color contrast and font size?
  • Are images, videos, and other assets accessible to users with disabilities?
  • Is there enough visual hierarchy in the design to make essential elements stand out?
  • Are you correctly using semantic HTML tags like headings and list items for better accessibility?
  • Are you using Aria tags to enhance the overall accessibility of email campaigns?

Code & Compliance

When auditing your email campaigns, it’s important to ensure that your HTML email code works seamlessly across different email clients and devices. Moreover, check for compliance with email marketing regulations like CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and other privacy policies.

  • Are emails being coded using semantic HTML that follows web standards?
  • Are all images and assets optimized for faster loading times?
  • Is there enough text in the design to ensure compliance with CAN-SPAM laws?
  • Is the unsubscribe link clearly visible at the bottom of each email?
  • Are you including a valid physical address in the footer of each email?
  • Are you providing a clear link to update personal information with each email?
  • Is there a privacy policy link at the bottom of each email?
  • Are all links valid and pointing to the right destinations?
  • Are emails being subjected to anti-spam tests before they are sent out?

Analytics & Reporting

Are you leveraging analytics tools to track and analyze the performance of your email campaigns? It’s crucial to regularly generate detailed reports to monitor the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts. Additionally, establishing a process to track revenue attributed to email campaigns and gathering customer feedback on email content is essential.

In summary, generate comprehensive reports focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs), subscriber engagement metrics, and revenue attribution. Utilize these insights to refine and optimize your future email campaigns.

  • Are you tracking the performance of each email campaign?
  • Are all important email metrics being collected and analyzed, such as open rates, click-through rates, conversions, etc.?
  • Is there a process in place to track revenue generated from emails?
  • Are you using A/B testing to optimize messaging, subject lines, and design?
  • Are you using segmentation to target different audiences more effectively?
  • Are you tracking user engagement across multiple channels, such as website visits, social media interactions, etc.?
  • Is there a system in place to monitor customer feedback about emails?
  • Are reports being generated regularly to track email marketing performance?

Automation, Schedule, And Workflow

Evaluate automation processes, scheduling capabilities, and workflow efficiency. Optimize automation sequences for timely and relevant communications throughout the customer journey.

  • Are you leveraging automation to streamline your campaigns?
  • Are emails being scheduled at optimal times for higher engagement?
  • Is there a workflow in place to ensure timely delivery of emails?
  • Are automated emails personalized with relevant content for each customer?
  • Can the team keep track of customer preferences and interactions to personalize emails further?
  • Is there a process in place to test and optimize automated emails?
  • Are automated emails being tested on multiple devices before they are sent out?

These questions are just an outline for how comprehensive a good email audit should be. It should cover all facts of a successful email marketing program and help you get your program to achieve peak performance.

How InboxArmy Performed an Audit – an Example

How InboxArmy Performed an Audit an Example_Banner

InboxArmy was tasked with conducting a thorough email audit for a New York-based seafood retailer to assess their current email campaigns and identify areas for improvement.

Here’s how we went about it:

Established Key Performance Benchmarks And Gathered Key Data

We first aligned with the business on their key performance metrics. We gathered automated flow and campaign performance data from the previous 90 days as a start. These key data points included, among others:

  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Average cart size
  • Average order value
  • Order return rate

Analyzed Email Campaigns And Automations

One of our goals was to identify any inefficiencies or areas of improvement within their automations. Our analysis focused on their welcome, browse abandon, and post-purchase thank you email series. We also thoroughly analyzed various automations, including:

  • Feedback auto-reply
  • Facebook welcome series
  • Delivery, in-transit, and shipping messaging

Conducted A Design Analysis

As part of the audit, we conducted a design analysis, focusing on the visual elements, call-to-action (CTA) placement, and overall navigation of the emails. We provided suggestions for significant design improvements, including consistent branding, prominent CTAs, an improved navigation bar, better social media links, and increased usage of images and icons.

Identified Areas of Improvement

Based on our findings, we made several recommendations to optimize’s email campaigns:

  1. Send campaigns to engaged and unengaged subscribers separately and on different days to maximize engagement.
  2. Implement significant design improvements, such as consistent branding, prominent CTAs, an improved navigation bar, better social media links, and more use of visual elements.
  3. Conduct A/B testing of subject lines and CTAs to identify which resonates best with subscribers.
  4. Optimize automation to drive repeat sales better, ensuring that customers receive timely and relevant messages.
  5. Implement segmentation targeting based on location, price, and level of interest to provide personalized experiences.
  6. Maintain list hygiene to improve deliverability and ensure emails reach the intended recipients.
  7. Decrease copy length and add more visual elements to emails to make them more engaging and easily scannable.
  8. Continuously conduct A/B testing of subject lines, CTAs, day and time of sending, etc., to refine and improve campaign performance.

By implementing these and more such recommendations, can expect to see improved results from their email marketing campaigns, including increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and, ultimately, a boost in revenue.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. When should I perform an email marketing audit?

It’s recommended to conduct an email marketing audit annually or once every six months to ensure your strategies remain effective. Additionally, consider conducting an audit if you notice declining performance or significant changes in your email marketing goals or audience.

  1. How long does it take to perform an email marketing audit?

An email marketing audit usually takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the complexity of your campaigns and list size. This time frame allows for a thorough assessment of data, campaigns, and compliance.

  1. How much does an email audit cost?

The cost of an email audit can vary widely depending on the scope and depth of the audit. Basic audits may start from a few hundred dollars, while comprehensive audits covering data analysis, deliverability checks, and strategy review can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the size of your email list and specific needs.

  1. Who can perform an email marketing audit?

An email marketing audit can be performed by experienced marketers, digital marketing agencies, or consultants specializing in email marketing best practices and compliance. Additionally, internal marketing teams with relevant expertise can conduct audits using industry guidelines and tools.

What Should You Do After Your Email Audit?

A great starting point would be to compile all the information you gather into a digestible report to share with your marketing team and other stakeholders. It will give everyone on your team a better understanding of performance, what your plans are to improve performance, and hopefully earn you buy-in to complete them.

The next step, as previously mentioned, would be to schedule the next round of the audit–set at a time in the future when you’ve had a reasonable amount of time to take action on your recommendations. This way, you have it on your calendar to regularly review both your past audit reports as well as your current KPIs to maintain a current view of your program’s performance. If you need any further help, get in touch with InboxArmy.

About Author

Winner of the ANA Email Experience Council’s 2021 Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year Award, Scott Cohen is a proven email marketing veteran with nearly 20 years of experience as both a brand-side marketer and an email marketing agency executive. He brings to our clients a unique blend of experience building and managing larger CRM and retention teams, sending millions of emails and SMS per week, and award-winning copywriting chops. For more information, follow him on Linkedin

Let Us Help Take You To The Next Level Of Email Marketing

Get in touch to start a conversation.

Get in touch
Multi-ESP Support

We support 50+ ESP vendors. Be it enterprise platforms such as SalesForce and Oracle Marketing Cloud or small and medium sized business platforms such as Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Aweber, and ActiveCampaign, we’ve got you covered.