What should you be tracking?

Email marketing produces more tracking data than just about any channel.

Some things are crucial for monitoring on each send, others are worth the occasional glance or ignoring all together. We all know the importance of reporting, and yet many marketers are unaware of what they should be tracking and the tools which they should be using. Here is my take on what to track to help you make the most out of your email campaigns.

The Basics

Every email system will track bounces, opens and clicks and the stats generated on the back of this provide your core analysis of the success of your emails in comparison to others. If you do email marketing you will be doing this already so we won’t dwell on these.


Having a list of click-thru’s and how many times each one has been clicked on has some use, but a more visual and immediate means that even non-analysts can draw rapid conclusions from is the heatmap. This overlays click numbers in a colour coded fashion on top of your email so you can see the warm spots for lots of activity, and less active spots. You want to see the areas you want clicked to be providing the warm spots – if not then it’s back to the drawing board to redesign those call to actions.

Revenue & Conversion

You can tag your links with codes to track the eventual success of your email in Google Analytics but this will only provide so much useful data. A better approach is to use the tracking code provided by your ESP who will hopefully be able to provide you with reports showing not only how many conversions and revenue the email generated, but which links had better conversion paths than others.


With the rise of smartphones and tablets it’s important to understand what devices your customers are using. This should show what percentage of your audience is opening on Smartphones and what type, allowing you to make an informed decision on whether it’s worth re-designing your emails to take into account mobile (Hint: It will be!)


Email systems like GraphicMail provide the ability to seed your send with major email providers such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo so you can see whether you made it into the inbox. GraphicMail does this test before any emails go out, as well as after the campaign is finished so you can see if the volume of the campaign sent the email into junk, or caused any delays.


Looking at the basic campaign stats will only give you so much insight, and after a while you might see the same things each time. One way you can really learn where your response is coming from is to drill down on your reports by different segments. An obvious and immediate one for many would be to split them by gender – how do males and females respond to the email? From this you can see if you have any underperforming segments, and calculate the opportunity size for investing in targeting these differently to bring the results up to the same level.


How relevant are your emails?

Relevant emails can drive up to 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails by providing subscribers with content that will be of interest to them.

We all know the importance of providing subscribers with content they are actually interested in receiving, but just how relevant are your emails? Here’s a quick checklist to make sure that your email content is up to scratch.

What’s your fatigue rate?

The biggest turn off for consumers is a lack of relevance in the emails. They might not call it relevance, but they will say ‘there is nothing in these emails for me’ which, of course, is a lack of relevance.

Your new subscribers are a really good source for understanding relevancy, as you can see any drop-off. Try running a Lifecycle report which shows how opens drop over time across each email a customer receives. If you have a large drop – say 15-20% points over those first few emails, alarm bells should be ringing that you’re not being relevant enough. Marketers with a well thought out email programme with tailored content still see a drop, but this is a gradual decline over time.

Reflect on what it looks like in one month

Sometimes we get all caught up in what we are doing and end up being too close to the emails – we can’t see the wood from the trees. Try taking a step back and compile a list of all the emails you sent in a month with a short description of each one. Then think about how as a customer you would see these emails in terms of value and relevance. The chances are you have sent them a lot of things you wanted to say to them, but not so much what they wanted to hear about.

How do different segments compare?

Sometimes you may build content for emails based upon our average customer – whether that be in the imagery we choose or the product content so there is at least something for everyone. The problem with this is that your average customer doesn’t actually exist.

Breaking down emails metrics by key segments and you can see which parts of your database are under performing, and therefore in need of improving relevance.

Are you personalising?

And then there is the simple question – what effort are you putting into personalising the email? While personalisation does not mean relevance, it’s fair to say you can’t be relevant without personalisation. Start your journey to relevance with a full personalisation strategy.


Email marketing reporting techniques

Reporting is more than just opens, clicks and the odd heatmap.

There is far more insight to be had which will directly lead to important discoveries to influence your upcoming campaigns.

Drill into segments

As I’m sure you already know, segmenting your emails to make them more relevant is an effective way to improve engagement levels of your campaigns. But why don’t we ever report by segment? With GraphicMail, you can break down any campaign, or series of emails by whatever segments you wish. This also helps you understand what segments you should be tailoring for. A simple set of examples would be to split your results by gender. Or maybe by the type of product they first purchased. As soon as you start seeing big differences in performance you can start coming up with hypothesis why, and test these out with a series of segmented emails.

Where is decline occurring?

Is your email marketing on the decline? Perhaps there is a drop in engagement levels relatively early on from new subscribers as they decide the emails are not for them. By running a GraphicMail ‘Lifecycle’ report, you can identify how quickly new subscribers are dropping off, and then start to plan out what special emails could help reverse this in the early stages of their experience.

Dashboards – data at your fingertips

Analysis often takes time, and as busy marketers you might always find something else to do before you allocate quality time to review statistics. This is where a good dashboard with all the KPI’s you need for email comes in. Configure it to your own needs and reporting periods, set a schedule and have it emailed to you so you can’t miss it. Chances are you will spot anything going wrong far quicker than before.

What types of email are working?

I bet you don’t just have one type of email you send. There will be a variety of themes and types of messages that you send. Traditionally, being able to report on the different performance of these is difficult as there is no aggregate function in most ESP’s. This is where the tag system in GraphicMail comes into its own. By creating tags and assigning them to your emails, you can literally segment your results by anything you want – from the topics in the email through to what the weather was like on that day! Only then can you start seeing patterns and differences between the types of email you send.

Data Warehousing

If you have a team of analysts within your business, the chances are that they will want raw data to work with, not the pre-prepared reports an ESP usually provides. Use a platform that has numerous ways to get data out via exports or APIs. Make sure you are getting you real-time updates into your data warehouse.


Segmented Reports – How to get greater insight into your customers

Segment Reports is a feature within your email platform that allows you to drill down on your email reports to see how each segment of your database is performing.

This can be done on an individual send or a whole series of emails giving you say the average open and click rate of each segment over the last 12 months of your newsletters.

Here are some ideas of who this could be used:

  • Male versus female – does one gender perform better than others? If so how should you tweak your emails accordingly and does any change you make show a closing of your ‘gender equality gap’?
  • Location – do you have a North/South divide in your list? Do customers around certain retail stores perform better?
  • Welcome Programme – do those people that received a Welcome email have stronger open rates on subsequent emails?
  • Re-activation emails – If you have re-targeted those non-openers can you now see an uplift in future email engagement?
  • Product Category – Do customers who have bought a particular category of product have higher click rates on emails where items in this category are included in the subject line?