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Net-Results is a cloud-based marketing automation solution for small, midsize and large businesses. Primary features include lead management, lead scoring, marketing list management, email builder, social media management, insight... Read more
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Email marketing may not be the hottest trend in marketing these days—other forms of outreach such as content marketing and social media marketing are certainly much more discussed on marketing websites and blogs—but it's still the essential backbone of contemporary business marketing, and possibly the most popular form of marketing today.
As we define it in our email marketing Buyer's Guide, "email marketing software is used to create, launch and track email campaigns to promote a company's marketing message. It uses email as the primary vehicle for 'keeping in touch' with leads. Its goal is to nurture the leads and keep the brand's solution top-of-mind, until the leads are ready to convert into paying customers."
Email tracking software is an important supplement to email marketing software. It provides an additional set of tools allowing you to track the emails you send out and collect analytical information about them, including email open rates, the number of clicks on links and the number of downloads of attachments.
This Buyer's Guide will explain what email tracking software is, explore its key features and help you consider some key questions you should ask yourself—and software vendors you're considering—as you choose the right software for your business.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Email Tracking Software?
Email tracking software serves two related key functions for your email marketing campaigns: It provides you with valuable analytics and helps you to more precisely nurture leads. It does both of these things by tracking email open rates, click-through rates, download rates and conversions, creating a data set that allows you to closely monitor your campaigns and understand which emails are getting the best response from which potential customers.
Once you are better aware of which of your marketing materials are the most effective, you can refocus your efforts on producing more of that type of material, thus optimizing your email marketing campaigns. This helps you improve your overall sales and marketing messaging and optimize customer/lead engagement.
Email tracking software can also alert you to the exact moment a prospect opens, clicks on or downloads that material, so you can follow up at the perfect time. Thus, it helps you generally improve communications with prospects, since you can keep a detailed list of their engagement with your emails and track just how much of your material they've actually read.
Limitations of Email Tracking Software
Email tracking software integrates directly with your email system so it can automatically become a part of all the emails you send. Many systems function by creating a small, invisible image within the email that contains tracking pixels. When those pixels load, that information is sent back to your tracking database, notifying it that the email has been opened.
For systems that function in this way, there are a few potential limitations:
- Some customers use ad blockers that will automatically block the image from loading.
- Not all customers have their email images set to load as a default, so the tracking image won't actually load for them unless they allow it to do so.
- Other computer security systems may block the tracking software entirely.
Common Features of Email Tracking Software
|Email open rate tracking||Monitor the success of individual email campaigns by measuring the frequency with which prospects open emails.|
|Click-through rate tracking||Track the success of individual embedded links in emails by measuring the frequency with which prospects click on them.|
|Download tracking||Determine the success of individual email attachments by measuring the frequency with which prospects download them.|
|Conversion tracking||Keep track of how many leads convert into customers through your marketing campaigns and create similar marketing materials for future campaigns.|
|Alerts||Set up the software to alert you when a prospect engages in a particular activity—opening an email, clicking a link, downloading an attachment etc.—so that you can schedule a follow-up at the best time.|
|Reporting and analytics||The software provides reports (and in some cases dashboards) that give you all of the tracking information sent to the database, and can also provide custom-designed visual representations of the data.|
|Email marketing and scheduling||Most email tracking software will either be one component of, or an add-on to, your larger email marketing software platform, which will allow you to schedule emails based in part on the reports and analytics that your tracking has generated.|
A reports page in MPZMail
Other factors to take into consideration when picking the best email tracking software for your business include:
- Integration with other systems. Though most email tracking systems will integrate with all major email providers, this is an essential aspect of the software and something you must clarify with vendors. Additionally, you should ensure your email tracking software integrates with your broader email marketing, sales force automation and/or customer relationship management (CRM) software.
- Stand-alone software versus email marketing suites. Related to the question of integration, you'll also want to consider whether you want a stand-alone email tracking system or one that is part of a larger email marketing suite. The benefit of a stand-alone system is that it is simpler to implement and cheaper (possibly even free) to use, but as a trade-off you will not have access to tools that will help you optimize the email campaigns you're tracking. An email tracking system that is part of a larger software suite, on the other hand, will be more expensive, and a bit more difficult to implement, but with the benefit of being automatically integrated with marketing campaign tools that put the data and analytics from your tracking to their best possible use.
- Cloud-based software versus on-premise software. As recently as a few years ago, most business software was hosted on the premises of the business using the software. This means that, along with the software, you would have to purchase dedicated servers from which to run it, which required not only physical space but also the IT resources to implement and maintain those servers. Today, though, the vast majority of software is provided in the cloud, which allows for a much quicker and easier implementation period as well as a decreased need for dedicated IT resources, all of which translates into cheaper start-up costs. There may still be some vendors that provide on-premises software, though, so you'll want to be sure to ask about this while shopping around.