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Email template audit

Why You Should Conduct Email Template Audits For Your Brand

A simple, low-jargon guide to email template audits: why, what and how...

As an email marketer, do you spend several weeks on email campaign design and content?

If yes, email templates can be the answer to your prayers.

Templates enable brands to quickly design and deploy customized email campaigns, saving time and effort. You can even reuse the same templates for different campaigns, saving even more time, while connecting with your audience in personalized ways, and delivering amazing brand experiences.

Are your current email templates not delivering the results you expected?

Conduct an email template audit to find the gaps that prevent you from meeting your email marketing goals, and guide your decision-making.

Read on to understand why template audits are important for your brand, and how you can get the most from the exercise.

What is An Email Template Audit?

Email templates can become outdated, or fall short of supporting the brand’s goals. But if you don’t know where the gaps are, you can’t address them, much less improve the performance of your email marketing program. Here’s where a template audit can be a game-changer.

With a template audit, you or an external auditor can gauge template performance, identify any gaps, and take steps to close those gaps. Thus, you can establish improvement baselines and identify opportunities for campaign optimization.

With an email template audit, you can find answers like:

  • Should we add additional templates to our email marketing program?
  • Should we add modules to our existing templates? Or remove irrelevant/outdated modules? 
  • Have we received feedback from previous A/B tests that we have not yet incorporated into our templates?
  • Do we have a new logo, imagery or standard text (e.g. footer) that should be added to existing templates?
  • Are our templates accessible, mobile-ready, and dark mode-friendly?
  • Are all links still relevant, up-to-date, and legally compliant?
  • Do we need to update the unsubscribe process?


Benefits of Email Template Audits

A/B testing is an invaluable part of every email marketing program. By setting up different versions of the same campaign and sending each version to a different subset of your broader audience, you can determine which version is most likely to resonate with subscribers. Also known as split testing, A/B testing offers a great way to increase the probability of email opens, clicks, and conversions.

But the fact that A/B testing is “split” testing is also its drawback. Essentially, this means that at any given time, you can only test different variants of a single element. If you want to test multiple elements of two email variants with different subject lines, you can’t do so with a single A/B test. For this, you need to run multiple A/B tests, which takes time and effort. Plus, you need to find the right sub-audience for every test, which requires multiple segmentation efforts.

If this sounds like a familiar issue, you probably test only one or two elements before deploying a campaign. Since you don’t have advance visibility into whether your audience will like the other elements, you don’t know whether your opens and click-throughs may be affected by those elements. And since you don’t know what will work – and more importantly, what won’t – you can’t take the necessary action to retain the good and cut out the bad before it affects your campaign results. By the time you do figure out where the gaps are, the deployment is already done. At this point, you can only measure campaign results, and invest additional time and money in redesign if results are below-par.

Further, by operating in such a black hole, you probably reuse existing templates, even though you aren’t getting the results you expected. Conducting an email template audit is an effective way to break this vicious cycle and avoid all these issues.

Benefits of Expert Email Template Auditors

Thus, an email template audit can help you proactively understand whether all email elements are functioning optimally before a campaign send. If something is working well, you don’t have to expend additional development cost or time on a redesign. But if something isn’t, the audit results will tell you exactly where the issues are, so you can focus your efforts in that direction. This is one reason why an audit performed by a team of experts like Email Uplers is really valuable.

External auditors have advanced expertise in various aspects of template audit. Plus, they come with an outside perspective and knowledge of email marketing best practices – both of which can generate highly relevant audit results, and also show a clear pathway towards improvement. 

In addition, expert auditors can deliver all these benefits:

  • Audit each element of every in-use template (baseline analysis) to confirm if it’s still on-brand and relevant to both customers and your email marketing strategy
  • Find flaws to be eliminated
  • Check the effectiveness of design, element placement, functionality, and content
  • Check links and standard text
  • Suggest if a template refresh is required to avoid monotony
  • Confirm if the template is fully accessible, responsive, and mobile-ready
  • Check if both HTML and text versions are available to meet the needs of all subscribers, including those in low-bandwidth areas
  • Identify what resources are required to correct any issues
  • Check if there are any problems with ESP integration
  • Verify email client compatibility and suggest solutions for non-supportive clients
  • Suggest ways to improve design and ramp up open rates and click rates

Which Template Components Should You Audit?

Ideally, you should audit all the below elements:

  • Preheader and header
    • Does it motivate the reader to open the email?
    • Does it provide the right context?
    • Is it on-brand?
  • Subject line
    • Is the length optimized and visible in every browser or device?
    • Are we using emojis strategically?
    • Are there “spammy” words that may land our emails in the Spam folder?
  • Content
    • Is the text relevant, personalized, and up-to-date?
    • Are we using crisp and bold headlines?
    • Do font type and size match our brand’s esthetics?
    • Is content placed in easy-to-read blocks?
    • Is the copy well-formatted?
    • Is there a clear take-away?
    • Are special offers, discounts, etc. relevant to the recipient? Are they outdated?
    • Do dynamic content blocks display the correct information to the correct recipient?
  • Design and layout elements
    • Is the layout easy on the eye?
    • Are we using the optimal mix of text and graphics?
    • Is the width optimized for every device?
    • Are we creating a text version of every HTML email?
  • Graphical elements
    • Are images on-brand?
    • Are all links working?
    • Does every image have alt text?
    • Are the CTA links and text relevant?
    • Are we effectively using white space?
  • ESP integration
    • Does the template work with our ESP?
    • If we use more than one ESP, does it work with all?
  • Browser and device compatibility
    • Do templates render properly on every browser and device?
    • Are they responsive and mobile-friendly?
  • Interactivity
    • Are we using interactive elements effectively?
    • How do they affect user experience and campaign ROI?
  • Social sharing links
    • Are we including the right links?
    • Do they take the user to the right page? 
  • Footer text
    • Is it updated and clearly visible?
    • Are any changes required?
    • Is a physical address included/required?
  • Unsubscribe link and text
    • Is the link clearly visible?
    • Is the process complicated or easy?
  • Compliance with CAN-SPAM and other applicable laws
    • Are we non-compliant in any way?

Email Template Audit Best Practices

When conducting an audit, it’s best to divide the template into individual sections, and tackle each separately. This ensures that every section is given the attention it deserves without overwhelming the auditor.

Keep in mind that a template audit should be holistic. Don’t limit your audit to just the visual esthetics or content. Also check placement, functionality, responsiveness, and of course brand-relevance.

If you can’t test for all the elements explained in the previous section, start with those elements that you would normally A/B test, such as:

  • Subject line
  • Content
  • Visuals
  • Personalization
  • CTA
  • Links
  • Offers

Also, since each email has a different purpose, the audit should start with this purpose (the all-important “why”) in mind:

  • Inform and educate
  • Persuade
  • Onboard, register, or welcome
  • Engage or re-engage
  • Cross-sell or upsell
  • Follow up
  • Ask for feedback
  • Make an announcement or send an invite
  • Send a special offer, discount, or promotion
  • Special occasion wishes, e.g. Mothers’ Day or birthday

Conclusion

Email templates are a valuable element of your email marketing program. However, to ensure that you continue to use the best and most effective templates, you must avoid falling into the “fit in and forget it” trap. Conduct regular audits to tweak your strategy and ensure that you get the best possible results from every campaign.

The audit experts at Email Uplers can audit your email templates and provide a simple, easy-to-follow implementation plan. Click here to know more.

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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