Email is effective for a lot of reasons. It’s easy to test, it’s quick to personalize, and it’s one of the more affordable digital marketing tools out there.
But knowing how to use email to its full potential is easier said than done.
Fortunately, this is where email tracking can help.
In this article, we’ll show you what email tracking is, how it works, and the benefits of using it.
We’ll also look at what you should be tracking in your emails and how to use tracking information to grow your business.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into:
- What is email tracking?
- What are the benefits of email tracking?
- Understand your customers
- Access to real-time insights
- Automate your marketing
- What should you be tracking?
- Open rates
- Click-through rates (CTRs)
- Devices used
- A real-business example of email tracking: Koia
- How to track your emails
- Choose the right email tracking software
- Refine your subscriber list
- Review the results
- 3 platforms that offer email tracking
- Track your emails with ActiveCampaign
What is email tracking?
Email tracking is the process of tracking, monitoring, and reviewing sent email data. Using an invisible tracking pixel in the images of the email, you can identify when your emails have been opened, as well as other trackable actions such as:
- Open rates: How many times the email has been opened.
- Click-through rates: How many link clicks you get in one or multiple emails. It’s sometimes known as click tracking or link tracking.
- Bounce rates: The number of times the email has bounced (meaning it didn’t reach the intended subscriber).
- Unsubscribe rate: How many users have unsubscribed from your email list.
- Devices used: The devices your subscribers use to open your emails.
- Email replies: How many subscribers reply to your email.
- Email forwards: How many subscribers have forwarded your email to another email address.
What are the benefits of email tracking?
Email tracking allows you to build relationships with your customers. It shows you how customers react to your content, which gives you the information needed to create a tailored and personalized experience.
Let’s take a look at these benefits in more detail.
Understand your customers
Using an email tracking tool helps you understand your customers a little better. You can find out what your consumers respond to, how they behave, and which consumers don’t respond at all.
Let’s say you run a split test on one of your email campaigns. With email tracking, you can monitor how each email performs with email tracking and better understand what your customers respond to.
Using this information, you can improve your marketing emails and provide subscribers with a better experience.
Access to real-time insights
With email tracking, everything is in real-time, giving you instant access to vital information. This is especially important when it comes to lead nurturing and follow-up emails.
Imagine that you notice high-quality leads viewing your email multiple times (depending on the software you use, you could create a notification for when this happens). Having access to this information means that you can act fast and follow up while you’re still fresh in their minds.
Or, if you notice a particularly high bounce rate, this might indicate that something is wrong with the email or the subscriber list. As a result, you can quickly make necessary changes.
Automate your marketing
Tracked emails help you automate parts of your marketing process. Not only does this save you time following up with potential leads, but it also provides leads with a better end-to-end experience.
Let’s use an example.
A subscriber clicks a link in one of your sent emails which triggers an automation for a series of follow-up emails. The emails are personalized and tailored to the specific subscriber, providing them with a better customer experience while giving you a higher chance of getting a conversion.
This is just one example of how email tracking helps you automate the marketing process, and there can be a variety of triggers that automate different actions. Take a look at ActiveCampaign’s trigger automations to see what else can be done.
What should you be tracking?
In all honesty, it’s hard to say which email tracking option is right for your business. It depends on what your goals are and what you want to learn from your email marketing.
Having said that, you’ll find three of the most popular trackable elements below.
An open rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who opened the email by the total number of people who received it. The average email open rate for 2020 was 18%.
Open tracking indicates your subscribers’ engagement level with your brand, but it isn’t always a marker of success. That’s mostly because it doesn’t actually tell you how successful your email is.
It tells you how successful your subject line and email preheader are.
If you have multiple recipients opening your email but an incredibly low click-through rate, would you consider this to be successful?
So if you’re looking to increase engagement and track how successful your subject lines are, open rates could be a good measurement. To track the success of your actual email, you might want to think about monitoring click-through rates.
Click-through rates (CTRs)
There are two types of CTRs you can measure:
- Click-through rate: the percentage of people that click a link or image in your email out of all the emails you’ve sent. The average click-through rate for 2020 was 2.6%.
- Click-to-open rate: the percentage of email viewers who click on a link within an email. The average click-to-open rate in 2020 was 14.1%.
In contrast to open rates, both of these measurements calculate the effectiveness of your email, making it a pretty important tracking metric.
For instance, a low CTR indicates that you need to change how you write, structure, and design your emails. It could also mean that you’re targeting the wrong audience altogether.
Are your subscribers using a mobile phone? A desktop? A tablet? You need to know this information to make sure your emails are optimized for such platforms.
Let’s say your email tracking shows that most of your subscribers open your emails on their mobile phones. Almost half of online consumers open emails on their phones, so this wouldn’t be surprising.
This tells you that you need a mobile-friendly version of your email. Without email tracking, you might never have known how many subscribers used mobile to open your emails, so it’s a pretty good tracking metric.
A real-business example of email tracking: Koia
Koia provides easy access to healthy, delicious, and convenient plant-based nutrition.
Using ActiveCampaign, the company used email tracking to get valuable insights about its subscribers to achieve its goals.
Here’s what happened:
- Koia segmented its subscribers and sent personalized emails based on hobbies, locations, and store preferences.
- The company created a series of automated welcome emails when a new subscriber signs up for its newsletter. The emails nurture them through the customer journey, sharing promotions and coupons and educating them about all things Koia.
- Whenever a new subscriber shows interest in Koia’s emails (either by clicking on links or opening emails), they’re also added to the Facebook Custom Audience. This allows Koia to target its leads across multiple channels and find similar audiences on Facebook.
Since using email tracking as part of its marketing efforts, Koia has seen the following results:
Koia is a pretty good example of how email tracking can help your business succeed. With the right platform, you can nurture your leads through the customer journey, provide customers with a better online experience, and even use this information to target consumers across multiple channels.
How to track your emails
We’ve outlined some simple steps you can follow to use email tracking effectively, starting with choosing the right software.
Choose the right email tracking software
Using the right email tracking software can streamline your entire email marketing process. Choosing the wrong one could have the opposite effect.
To find the right email software, you need to understand what features you need before you start looking. This will help you find a platform to suit your needs.
Here are some of the features we offer at ActiveCampaign to give you some inspiration:
- Personalization: This is a feature you’re going to want. Why? Because consumers value personalization. With ActiveCampaign, you can customize fields in your emails based on any contact information you have.
- Drag-and-drop email designer: You don’t need to be a tech expert to design sleek and stylish emails. Using ActiveCampaign’s drag-and-drop email designer, you can create beautiful campaigns in a matter of minutes. And, if you don’t want to bother designing an email, you can use a ready-made email template instead.
- Send a variety of email types: Use a platform that offers a variety of email types. If you don’t, you’re restricted in what you can send. At ActiveCampaign, we have broadcast emails, triggered emails, targeted emails, and more. Check out the full list here.
Refine your subscriber list
Keeping your subscriber list up to date is helpful for a few reasons:
- It’ll give you the most accurate email tracking data.
- It’ll help you focus your efforts on leads who actively engage with your emails.
- It can reduce your marketing costs and increase your ROI.
- It can increase your open rates and click-through rates.
So spend some time making sure that your mailing list is as clean as possible. Remove duplicates, spam email addresses, and anyone who’s unsubscribed from your emails.
To make this process easier, take a look at ActiveCampaign’s List Cleanup Tool.
Set your goals and measurements
Before you send any emails, you need to decide what information you’re tracking and how to measure its success.
Are you looking for a certain amount of clicks? An increase in open rates? A reduction in bounce rates?
Whatever you choose, make sure you know why you’re tracking it. It’s no use tracking open rates if your goal is to increase your click-through rate.
Review the results
Once your emails have been sent, it’s time to review the results.
Compare your results with the goals and metrics you set before sending the emails. That’ll tell you what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve your email marketing going forward.
If you want some additional analysis, consider using an email tracking system that offers reporting and analytics.
3 best email tracking platforms
Take a look at these three email tracking platforms as a starting point to finding the right platform for your business.
More than just email tracking software, ActiveCampaign is a customer experience automation platform. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive email marketing solution, ActiveCampaign is exactly what you need.
Here’s a little taste of what we offer:
- Email marketing: In addition to email tracking, you can manage your entire email marketing system with ActiveCampaign. We help teams build email newsletters, create email campaigns, and send the right emails at the right time. You can even integrate external email platforms into our software to help you streamline the entire email marketing process. Take a look at our Gmail extension or our Microsoft integration for more information.
- Marketing automation: With ActiveCampaign, you don’t need to be a tech wizard to automate your marketing activity. Our drag-and-drop automation builder lets you set up automated workflows in minutes. From email automation to lead nurturing, we’ve got you covered.
- CRM and sales automation: With our CRM and sales automations, every sales rep and marketer can keep on top of the entire customer journey. This includes contact management, lead scoring, sales tasks, and even monitoring ongoing sales in the pipeline. Put simply, our platform keeps your entire sales process moving smoothly.
Helpwise is solely an email tracking platform. It shows users when recipients open their emails. The platform also allows teams to work from a shared inbox as well as integrate with external CRMs.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial, and the paid plan starts at $12 per user per month (when billed annually).
Users can segment their audience with filters based on the data collected, including geographic data, online behavior, and other marketing data.
Leadboxer offers a free trial, as well as basic or premium paid plans.
Track your emails with ActiveCampaign
By now, you should have a pretty solid understanding of email tracking. You know what it is, how it works, and how to use it to improve your business.
To start tracking emails (and so much more), sign up for ActiveCampaign today. You can even try it for free to see what you think before you commit.