Time To Do An Email User Experience Audit

Email marketers know they need to be more customer-centric and understand the different journeys their customers, subscribers and prospects take. The journey-mapping process includes understanding how your customers interact with all aspects of your email program.

An email experience audit will give you that necessary insight.

What's in an Email Experience Audit?

Many companies will audit their email programs for performance metrics and best practices, but an email experience audit assesses the experience subscribers and customers have with your emails and related channels. 

One approach is to give your test subjects tasks to complete on their computers or mobile devices, such as updating their preferences, buying products, following a brand on Pinterest, etc.

What to Study in an Email Experience Audit

My list of suggestions below is long, but you need not tackle all of them at once. Instead, start with likely trouble spots, or elements in your email program that you want to overhaul.



An email experience audit can uncover distinct problems and support your request for additional resources.

  • Devices and email clients: How do your emails render, and how easily can users navigate on different types of devices, screen sizes and email client and mobile apps? Give users tasks to complete across various devices and email clients.
  • Read time: How long are they interacting with your emails?
  • Cadence: Study inboxes of different subscriber and customer types to determine the typical cadence and number of emails. Categorize the emails not just by type, but also by content and value. You might discover you sent 17 emails in 14 days, but none included content that added value beyond an order confirmation or discount offer.
  • Types of emails: Examine the entire journey for actual subscribes: welcome, transactional, remarketing, birthday, newsletters, reactivation, etc.
  • Call center or store visits: If customers call a number listed in your email, can the call center rep access their records and solve problems? What if customers take printed copies of your offer or coupon to a store? Can your cashiers process the email offer quickly and easily?
  • Multichannel messaging: Do you send push notifications or texts from a mobile app? Do you send paper catalogs? Do you advertise on Facebook, Twitter or TV? How does your channel messaging align with email?
  • Opt-in process: Have a nonsubscriber try to opt in from various avenues, such as your website homepage or popover, account registration page, order page, social media channels, on mobile, in your stores or from print sources. Do your call center reps invite people to sign up for your emails?  
  • Email to Web: When users click through to your Web site, do they go where they expected? Is your site mobile-friendly or optimized?
  • Opt-out process: Can users unsubscribe easily, or do they get frustrated? How do they react to any unsubscribe alternatives? Do they receive more emails after unsubscribing?
  • Preference center: Monitor your user's experiences with simple tasks like changing an email address or modifying preferences or subscriptions.

Within the email:

  • From name and subject lines: Do subscribers immediately recognize your emails in their inbox?
  • Preheaders: Do your subscribers see or engage with them?
  • Buttons: Do they pop? Are they finger-friendly? Does the copy tell subscribers what to do, and why they should do it?
  • Links and navigation: Are any desired/expected navigation links missing? Are they easy to find and click accurately? Do you hide them with low-contrast font colors, or bury them below your offer copy?
  • Email to mobile app: Are subscribers taken via hot links directly into your app from their mobiles?

Have I missed any areas? Have you done an email experience audit? What were your learnings?

Until next time, take it up a notch.

2 comments about "Time To Do An Email User Experience Audit".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Grant Baker from Bako Industries, August 20, 2015 at 12:07 p.m.

    It seems what you have here is a great usability audit. If I were undertaking an email audit, it may be a good idea to take a hard look at what the people's goals, behaviors, and motivations are. Once you obtain that, think about your emails. Are they helping people get closer to their goals?

  2. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, August 21, 2015 at 1:36 p.m.

    Grant, good points ... you could call it a usability audit as well ... I was just trying to raise the conversation and concept up to a slightly higher level ... and covering all aspects of the email experience.

Next story loading loading..