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What Is an Email Audit? Expert Insights on How It Can Help Your Business

Learn how to reshape your businesses with this unique approach to email marketing.

a man wearing a white shirt and tie
By Aaron Parnes
Michelle Meyer editor profile picture
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Updated December 17, 2023.


In digital marketing, staying ahead of the curve isn't just a preference—it's a necessity. Email marketing, a timeless tool in a marketer's arsenal, continues to drive business growth. But like any tool, your email marketing strategies need to be sharpened. This is where email audits come into play.

An email audit involves looking closely at all the emails you've sent to your subscribers and assessing how well they've performed. This will help you understand what's working and what isn't.

An email audit typically involves:

  • Reviewing your email content and design to make sure it still aligns with your goals and brand identity.
  • Checking open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to check how effective your emails are.
  • Organizing your email list into different segments based on their behavior to send more targeted emails.
  • Making sure your emails comply with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Removing inactive or unsubscribed subscribers.
  • Adjusting your email marketing strategy based on the insights gained from the audit.

The term "email audit" often raises questions about how it differs from a regular analysis. To clarify:

  • Email analysis provides a snapshot of your current email performance. It's a one-time look at how your emails perform at a specific moment—open rates, sales, and customer engagement.
  • Email audit delves deep into the entire email process and its role in your business strategy. It's about understanding the big picture and optimizing your email strategy accordingly.

Below, we look in more detail at how to approach an email audit, what role data plays, how to implement email audit recommendations, and common challenges you may encounter.

Meet the expert

Aaron Parnes has 16 years of online marketing experience. As the founder and president of Razor Clicks, he specializes in helping customers develop cutting-edge marketing strategies to effectively reach their target audience and run profitable operations.

3 questions you should be able to answer after an email audit

If you haven't done an email audit before, it may seem daunting. To get you started, here are 3 key questions you should be able to answer once you've done your email audit:

  • Frequency: How often do you send emails?
  • Open rates: How deeply do your customers interact with your emails?
  • Loyalty: How often do your customers buy through your emails?

These questions center around if you send your emails frequently enough and if your customers even interact with them when they get them—both just opening the email and buying from it.

Frequency: How often do you send emails?

The optimal email-sending frequency is a nuanced matter that depends on the size of your email list. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather a strategy tailored to your specific circumstances.

The key is maintaining a consistent presence in your customers' inboxes while continually striving for improvement.

While a visually appealing design and a well-thought-out layout are undeniably important for engaging customers and encouraging their response, keeping things in perspective is crucial. Often, companies get caught up in the pursuit of perfection, working on every detail of content and design.

Here's the reality: It's far better to send out an email, even if it doesn't have a perfect design, than not to send one at all. Inaction can be a significant setback.

For smaller email lists with limited subscribers, sending emails too frequently can overwhelm the same individuals with content. In such cases, scaling down and sending emails a few times a month is advisable.

Open rates: How deeply do your customers interact with your emails?

In your quest to determine how deeply and frequently your email list engages with your content, you need to analyze your open rates. However, there's a twist—Apple introduced privacy settings that disrupt how we interpret these rates. They no longer provide data on "privacy opens," making it challenging to gauge actual open rates accurately.

"Privacy opens" occurs when Apple's system pre-opens an email without confirmation of user interaction. We can't be certain if the user genuinely engaged with the email. Instead, we have to rely on more reliable indicators of list quality and engagement:

  1. Are they actively clicking on the content?
  2. Do they revisit the email multiple times?
  3. Are they forwarding or sharing it with others?
  4. Do they take the desired action—visiting the website—after encountering an email?

Want to improve your click through rates? Check out our guide on email engagement.

Loyalty: How often do your customers buy through your emails?

Another crucial aspect of the email audit is your company's email process. This encompasses your emails' content, how you execute your email campaigns, and the overarching strategy governing how you send emails. To gauge the effectiveness of these elements, you need to examine their performance closely.

This includes checking the repetitive rates, an essential metric that reveals how frequently your customers purchase through your email campaigns.

Is it a recurring pattern throughout the year, or do customers return multiple times over their lifetime with the company?

These insights help you understand the immediate impact of email marketing on sales and its long-term influence on customer engagement and loyalty.

» Here's how retention email marketing can help boost customer loyalty

Data analysis: The backbone of email audits

To help you answer the above questions, you have to become best friends with data. It gives you invaluable insights into your email campaigns' impact on revenue. So, a crucial metric you should consider is the percentage of revenue your business generates from email marketing.

While a rule of thumb suggests aiming for 1 out of 4 of your sales to come from email marketing, the ideal number depends on your business's nature.

You can't expect the same revenue for a one-time purchase product like electronics and for a product used daily that needs to be replaced much sooner, like skincare.

The data you analyze from the audit translates into actionable recommendations, helping you make informed and strategic decisions.

Cheat sheet: How to implement email audit recommendations effectively

After completing your email audit, you should embark on a structured journey. We've formulated a mnemonic, "Cash is King," to encapsulate the essential steps for you to follow to implement your email audit recommendations effectively. While "King" isn't part of the acronym, the six letters that form "Cash is" are a compass for companies to navigate this process:

  • C - Collection
  • A - Automation
  • S - Scheduling
  • H - Hygiene
  • I - Inboxing
  • S - Segmenting

This formula ensures a methodical approach, progressing from easier to more challenging tasks. We begin with straightforward actions, such as adjusting domain settings to optimize deliverability. As you gain momentum, you can delve into designing and implementing additional email campaigns, developing a robust calendar strategy, and refining automated workflows that engage customers based on their unique interactions and behaviors.

Cross your T's and dot your I's: Making sure your emails are compliant

Apart from your email's content, it's equally important to make sure it meets all the necessary legal requirements. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) reigns supreme in Europe. It requires that you obtain clear and explicit permission from each contact for every interaction your company initiates.

Modern email service providers (ESPs), like MailChimp and Klaviyo, have stringent policies. They not only encourage but demand compliance with the law. As a result, violations are rarely an issue when using reputable ESPs.

Common challenges in email marketing

Successful email marketing requires overcoming several common challenges:

  • Perfection paralysis: Striving for perfection can delay campaigns. It's often better to send out emails regularly, even if they're not perfect.
  • Decision-making bottlenecks: Too many decision-makers can lead to indecision. Streamlining the process is crucial for efficiency.
  • Development delays: Relying heavily on development work can slow down email marketing efforts. Modern ESPs make email marketing more accessible, reducing the need for constant development.

A glance into the future of email marketing

While artificial intelligence (AI) is a buzzword across various industries, its tangible impact on email marketing remains somewhat elusive. AI's role in email marketing extends to text generation and generating subject line ideas, with limited applications beyond that. AI's transformative potential in email marketing remains largely untapped.

On a different front, SMS marketing is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. However, integrating SMS effectively with email marketing is critical. Many ESPs recognize this synergy and are actively merging SMS capabilities into their email marketing platforms. The future might see a harmonious approach—sending emails alongside SMS reminders, creating a seamless and effective omnichannel marketing strategy.

Take your first email audit steps with Mayple

Email audits aren't just a necessary tool— they're a compass guiding your email marketing journey. By regularly evaluating and adapting your strategies, you can continue to harness the power of email marketing to drive your business forward.

If you need a partner to help you tackle the first round of email audits, Mayple can find you the right email marketing expert:

  • We use an AI-powered Perfect Matching algorithm to link you with a vetted expert.
  • You get a dedicated campaign manager to see you through the process.
  • Our tools automate payment, admin, and other processes.