How to Choose the Right Email Analytics Tool
MAR 28, 2018 14:29 PM
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How to Choose the Right Email Analytics Tool

by Anna Johansson
 
Businesses are increasingly turning to the power of data to gain actionable insights that they can use to improve operations across the spectrum, and one such field of increasing popularity is email analytics.
 
While traditionally thought of in terms of email marketing campaigns, and associated with metrics such as open rates and click-through rates, there’s a new and growing segment of email analytics that’s starting to catch the interest of managers with teams of employees: “everyday” email analytics.
 
Examples of these types of metrics would include the number of emails sent and received via everyday communication, including emails to and from employees, colleagues, vendors, and clients.
 
Let’s explore how to choose such an email analytics tool to suit your needs.
 
Performance
 
First, you’ll need to look at the tool’s performance across five main dimensions:
  • Metric reliability. How accurate and reliable are the metrics of this app? This may be a difficult question to answer, because it’s not efficient to measure everything with the app and then hand-measure and calculate similar statistics to see if they add up. Instead, it’s better to look at the publisher and how the software operates. Does it plug directly into your email system of choice? How much development experience does this team have? What are the reviews like? These questions can help you gauge the accuracy of an email productivity tool, even if you aren’t sure of its precision. 
  • Ease of integration. There are tons of different email servers and platforms to rely on, so you’ll need to make sure your tool of choice is not only compatible with your platform, but is capable of integrating smoothly with it. For example, if you use Gmail or Google Suite for your company email, you’ll need to find a tool that specializes in Gmail integration, such as EmailAnalytics. Most modern email analytics platforms should be easily compatible with any major email system you use. 
  • Device compatibility. Strictly for convenience’s sake, you’ll want to choose a tool that’s compatible with all manner of systems and devices. For example, if your visualization platform has a great desktop mode, but performs poorly on mobile devices, you’ll end up forced to use a desktop whenever you want to check into the app. A tool with a responsive, fluid, adaptable design will make it easier for you (and your teammates) to jump between devices and still get full use of the system. 
  • Ease of use. Though device compatibility could technically qualify as a factor for “ease of use,” what I’m really referring to here is how easy it is to pick up the platform, learn how it works, and take the actions necessary to harness its full potential. Ideally, your app will be intuitive enough to pick up within a few minutes, but in-depth enough to offer detailed tutorials and guides on how to get the most out of the app. Think selfishly here, and remember your ultimate goal of productivity; you want to choose an app that offers you the least amount of resistance. This is also important if you plan on training other members of your team to use the app; the simpler this learning curve is, the better. 
  • Quality of visualization. There’s also something to be said for the qualitative appeal of the visuals offered by your email analytics platform of choice. After all, its main function is to provide data visualization. Without that visualization component performing the way you want it to, you’ll be left with nothing but raw data and numbers—which you would have had anyway. Make sure the visuals here are strong, interactive, and illustrative enough to provide at-a-glance demonstrations of how your email is being used. 
Adaptability
 
You’ll also want to consider the adaptability of the app in question, which is especially important if your company has unique needs:
  • Custom functionality. Some apps and developers may be able to offer you some degree of customer functionality; if you have specific metrics you want to track that aren’t currently trackable within the app, they may be able to help you out with a custom solution. Those who aren’t should at least be able to offer you multiple different options within their product; for example, there may be different “tiered” versions of the app, which offer different levels of functionality at different price points. This level of flexibility is ideal for organizations that are looking for specific features to improve their email productivity. 
  • Report building. You should also have some significant control over the type and frequency of reports generated by the tool itself. If your tool only gives you visualizations for a set range of different statistics, you’ll be left without the ability to generate reports that hone in on your most important goals. Being able to build and replicate these reports as you continue making improvements is vital to make the most of the app. 
  • Learning curve. Data visualization can be a complex topic, and your app may include a number of technical integrations and reporting options that don’t make immediate sense to you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, more complexity in an app like this is a sign that the developers have thought through an extensive number of possibilities and are giving you more than your money’s worth. However, there should be an approachable learning curve, giving you the ability to use the app on a basal level immediately, with the capacity to learn more complex functions over time. This model flexibly accommodates people of almost any experience level.
  • Growth over time. You should also look for an app that’s going to be useful for you in the future. Optimizing the email productivity of your employees isn’t something that happens overnight, and it’s not something that will happen by using an email analytics tool for a few weeks. You should choose an app that appears to have the staying power to remain relevant. Look for a developer that puts ongoing effort into their products; if it updates regularly, you know you’ve found a tool that can evolve with the times. 
Cost
 
Finally, you’ll need to consider the cost of the application, as not all tools are going to run the same price. There’s something to be said for the “you get what you pay for” angle here; though there are plenty of examples of free software that works excellently, you also shouldn’t shy away from paying for an app that offers you the complex technical features you need to achieve your email productivity goals.
 
If you find an email productivity tool that gives you everything you want, it may be worth paying a little extra; after all, it may save you dozens of hours in lost productivity within a few weeks of using it. Still, you’ll want to keep your budget in mind and shop around for an affordable tool that meets all your needs. 
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