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Email tracking 101: Benefits and Tips

Get the most out of your email marketing strategy with email tracking. Learn the ins and outs of popular email tracking software that actually works.

Nowadays, virtually every business with an online presence is engaging in some type of email marketing campaign. Email marketing can be a great way to connect with your audience and personalize marketing materials while still reaching a lot of people.

Additionally, one of the best parts of email marketing—and digital marketing in general—is the capabilities you have when it comes to collecting and reviewing analytics, metrics, and insights.

Email tracking is one way to gather key analytics and data when running email marketing campaigns. So what is email tracking? And how does email tracking work?

In a nutshell, email tracking describes the monitoring process that takes place after an email has been sent. With email tracking, you can see which customers opened your emails and when they opened them.

In some cases, you can even access more detailed data, like whether they opened any attachments included in the email or clicked on certain links. In this article, we go into more detail about what email tracking is and how it works. We discuss how email tracking can help your business and identify some of the most important KPIs to track when it comes to email marketing. Read on to learn more about how to track emails or navigate the article using the links below.

What is email tracking?

Email tracking is when you monitor relevant activity and actions taken after an email has been sent.

For instance, after sending an email, you may want to know whether or not the recipient opened your email. With email tracking, you can see if the recipient opened your email and better understand how they interacted with your email marketing campaign.

In addition to telling you whether a recipient opened your email, an email tracking tool can also tell you the time and date at which the email was opened and, in some cases, even the location.

Email tracking tools can also shed some light on how a recipient interacted with your email—did they click on any UTM links? Did your email lead the recipient to your business website?

As you can probably tell, information like this can be very helpful in creating and managing an email marketing campaign. In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at how email or link tracking can help your business and enable you to create smarter digital marketing campaigns.

How can email tracking help businesses?

There are several ways in which email tracking can help businesses. Below is a short list that touches on just some of the ways in which email tracking can prove to be a valuable tool for your business:

Save time

You may cast a large net when kicking off an email marketing campaign. But, inevitably, there will be people who aren’t interested in your emails or what you have to offer.

With email tracking, you can quickly identify who opened your emails and who didn’t. With this in mind, you can skip sending follow-up emails to those who don’t open your messages—saving your sales team time by avoiding people who don’t demonstrate interest—and target those who are more engaged with your content.

Create data-driven campaigns

Data-driven marketing campaigns allow you to be smarter when it comes to your marketing tactics and strategy. With valuable data and insights at your disposal, you can determine the types of messages and offers that most resonate with your target audience.

Email tracking provides you with insights that can help you better understand your audience and, in turn, create better email campaigns.

Build customer relationships

Email tracking enables you to gain a better understanding of your audience by telling you more about the types of emails they're most likely to interact with. With an email tracking tool, you can create more personalized email campaigns and more effectively connect with customers.

Measure results

In order to determine whether an email campaign is effective or not, you must measure results. By telling you who’s opening your emails and when, you can tweak and improve your email marketing campaigns.

For example, you may find that your audience tends to open emails within a certain range of time each day. With this information, you can make sure to send out emails when customers are most likely to see and open them.

How does email tracking work?

While there are several email tracking tools available, many email tracking features are built into CRM platforms these days.

Email tracking tools and features can monitor activity in a few different ways. At the most basic level, email tracking works by placing a single invisible image pixel in your outbound emails. This pixel enables the server to notify you when the recipient has opened your email.

In addition to notifying you when an email has been opened, some email tracking software provides you with even more insights. For example, the links in your emails may be converted to a tracking URL that notifies you when the recipient follows the link.

When you use a CRM platform like Mailchimp, you can monitor and organize all of the email tracking data you collect in a single dashboard.

Best KPIs to track on emails

As email tracking becomes more sophisticated, there are beginning to be more and more metrics that you can keep track of using an email tracking tool.

So, you may be wondering which metrics are the most important ones to pay attention to when tracking emails? Below, we lay out the best KPIs to monitor when tracking sent emails.

Email response time

Email response time is the amount of time it takes for a recipient to respond to an email. This metric is an especially important one to track when it comes to B2B and B2C sales conducted via email. By tracking email response time, you will be able to see how long it takes your salespeople or customer service representatives to reply to emails. In general, you want your company’s email response time to be as quick as possible. In sales, providing prompt replies to client emails can help you close deals.

Consider the fact that companies that provide an email response within one hour are nearly seven times more likely to take part in a meaningful conversation with key decision-makers within the organization they’re communicating with.

Email response time is also a crucial metric when it comes to customer service. If a customer reaches out to your organization with a problem, concern, question, or complaint, they want to receive a response sooner rather than later. A quick email response time is part of providing excellent customer service, which can help you build better relationships with customers in the long run.

Overall, tracking email response time is one way in which you can hold members of your staff accountable. Slow email response times can lead to negative customer service experiences and even missed sales opportunities, so make sure you emphasize the importance of email response time to your employees.

Open rate

Open rate is one of the easiest metrics to measure when tracking sent emails.

By placing a single invisible image pixel on an outbound email, you will be able to tell when a recipient has opened the email, as the recipient’s email client will attempt to load the image by calling the server that the tracking pixel is located on. When this happens, you will receive a notification that the recipient has opened the email you sent.

So, why is the open rate an important metric to track? The simple answer is that you want to see whether or not people are opening your emails.

When you’re communicating via email or running an email marketing campaign, you always want your emails to be opened, as this tells you that your messages are getting through to the intended recipient.

Open rate is a particularly important metric for any email marketing campaign. If recipients aren’t opening the marketing emails you’re sending, they aren’t seeing the offers, promotions, sales, or content enclosed in your emails.

If you find that your email marketing campaigns have a low open rate, this could be due to a few different reasons. First of all, the email itself may not be compelling. Perhaps you need to tweak your subject line to make it more exciting or address your target audience’s needs more directly.

Alternatively, your email campaign may have a low open rate because you’re targeting the wrong audience. Ideally, you want to send marketing emails to leads who are genuinely interested in the products or services you have to offer, as the content of your emails can provide value to these individuals.

If your emails are going out to people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, this tends to be a waste of time since they most likely won’t even open your emails.

Click through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is a metric that measures the percentage of people who click on a specific link in an email or on a web page.

To calculate the click-through rate for an advertisement, you simply divide the number of clicks it received by the number of impressions. This will give you the ratio of individuals who saw your ad and decided to click on the embedded link.

Tracking click-through rate in your email marketing campaigns is a key part of determining how effective your email marketing actually is.

After all, the goal of any email marketing campaign is to encourage users to take a specific action, whether that be visiting your company’s website, making a purchase, directing them to a signup form, or filling out a survey.

By tracking click-through rates, you can better understand which types of emails are successful in getting recipients to take action.

Once you know which types of emails are most effective, you can take steps to bolster any email marketing campaign. You might focus on sending out emails with a high click-through rate or target individuals—or audience segments—that are more likely to take action after receiving one of your emails.

How to start tracking emails

Tracking emails is a fairly straightforward process when you use a CRM platform like Mailchimp. With unlimited email tracking and the ability to integrate third-party email tracking apps into your dashboard, you can get started with email tracking in no time. Plus, you can leverage email automation to streamline the email marketing process.

Below, we’ve laid out some of the basic steps you need to take in order to begin tracking emails:

  1. Create email tracking standards: Before you start email tracking, it’s important to set up a few guidelines to help ensure that everyone on your team uses email tracking software responsibly. Start by creating a written document that describes the appropriate usage of email tracking tools. Additionally, you might consider updating your company’s privacy policy to reflect the use of email tracking tools so that you can be transparent with customers and maintain their trust.
  2. Choose email tracking tools: There are many different email tracking tools available, and different tools will often provide different capabilities. You may choose to use specialized email tracking software or use the email tracking features that are built into the Mailchimp CRM platform, which allows for open and click tracking.
  3. Write an email: This step is straightforward—write your email, whether it be a single sales email or a series of marketing emails. Remember to craft an exciting subject line to boost open rate and write compelling copy to improve click-through rate.
  4. Enable email tracking for outbound emails: The last step in setting up email tracking is to enable tracking for your outbound emails. When you use Mailchimp, open and click tracking are enabled by default, so you don’t have to do anything to track these metrics. However, if you use a third-party email tracking tool, you may have to click a box or adjust settings to begin tracking emails.

Open tracking

Open tracking is an email tracking feature that’s built into Mailchimp’s CRM platform. When open tracking is enabled, you will be able to see which recipients opened your emails. You can quickly view all open tracking data by navigating to the Reports page in your account.

Click tracking

Like open tracking, click tracking is another email tracking feature built into the Mailchimp platform. However, rather than telling you if and when an email has been opened, click tracking allows you to see when a recipient has clicked on one of the links in your campaign. Navigate to the Reports page in your account to access more detailed campaign data related to click rates.

Email tracking tips

When you properly utilize email tracking in running your business, you can run more effective digital marketing campaigns, build better relationships with customers, and improve communication.

As you begin tracking emails across campaigns, here are a few tips to make email tracking run smoothly:

Send relevant content

This is a tip that can be applied not only to email tracking but to any email marketing campaign. Email tracking provides you with more information about your campaign and your audience, so make sure to apply that information to create messages that are relevant and valuable for your audience.

Cut down your email list

While you may assume that it’s better to build the largest email list possible, this isn’t always the case. In fact, you should consider removing recipients who let your emails sit in their Outlook or Gmail inbox unopened. Then you can focus all of your time and energy on a more engaged audience.

Regularly track analytics

Make sure to regularly review email tracking analytics. Use the information you get to tweak and improve your email campaigns so that you can boost open rates and click-through rates.

Don't let your email data go to waste

Email tracking can be a valuable tool as you optimize email marketing campaigns. With the right email tracking software, you can monitor customer engagement, evaluate the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns, and hold your own employees accountable when it comes to things like email response time.

As you can see, tracking emails is a versatile tactic that can serve multiple areas of your business. Whether you’re incorporating email tracking into your knowledge management system or using it to facilitate email marketing success, it’s a feature that can provide you with valuable information. By leveraging the campaign insights that email tracking provides you with, you can build out more effective data-driven campaigns for your brand.

Mailchimp offers unlimited tracking for Gmail and other major email clients. Try out Mailchimp today and gain access to email templates, email trackers, valuable email metrics, and more marketing tools that can help you generate link clicks and increase conversions.

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