Most people don’t pay much attention to their email habits. Email is just a part of the average worker’s daily life, and a necessary expenditure of time that can’t be avoided. Accordingly, email tracking in Gmail is an area of potential that frequently gets overlooked.
5 Productivity Pitfalls Email Tracking in Gmail Can Prevent
The truth is, email has an enormous impact on your productivity; more than most people realize.
Consider these ways in which email affects your productivity:
1. Unnecessary messages and clutter
First, think about the unnecessary messages and clutter in your inbox. Chances are, there are some problematic clients or needy employees who email you way more often than necessary, sometimes with messages devoid of any real content. Opening and reading these messages takes time, and if you get them too frequently without managing them, you’ll end up wasting a significant amount of time. The same problem exists with notification emails, which can flood your inbox from practically any social media or project management platform, or any newsletter subscription.
2. Excessive time waste
It’s possible to waste time when emailing in several different ways. You could be emailing the wrong people in the wrong ways. You could be taking too long when drafting messages, or when reading messages from your clients and employees. This is a quiet, yet destructive habit; it’s hard to tell whether you’re spending too much time on a task unless you have an objective measurement for it.
3. Scheduling and productivity planning
Email can take up a big chunk of your day. Studies have found varying results, but it’s likely that the average worker spends between 2.5 and 4 hours a day managing email. On days you receive a disproportionately large number of emails, you may not have much time to do anything else. During peak hours, email can distract you from your most important tasks. If you knew, intuitively, what your busiest email days and times were, you could easily plan around it, but it’s hard to do without objective data on your habits.
4. Missed opportunities
If you use email to find and secure new opportunities (i.e., if you’re a salesperson, marketer, or entrepreneur), there’s another dimension to consider: missed opportunities. If your average email response time is too low, you could end up losing the interest of otherwise valuable clients, and losing revenue for your business. Again, the only way to tell whether this is significantly affecting your opportunities is with an email tracking tool.
5. Sheer volume of email
All of these problems are compounded by the fact that email is such a frequent work responsibility. Losing a few minutes on an email isn’t a big deal, but if that happens dozens of times a day, every day of the week, suddenly you’re losing hours of time to a single bad productivity habit. Conversely, correcting a single bad email habit could save you hours of time.
Using an email tracking tool with Gmail is the only way to determine, objectively, whether you’re falling victim to these productivity pitfalls – and if so, how to eliminate them. The question is, what kind of email tracking services exist?
Email Tracking With Google Analytics … ?
Google has a long history of supporting its products (and supporting webmasters) with free or inexpensive complementary products. For example, webmasters can easily track web traffic and user activity using Google Analytics. So can you use it to track your email activity in Gmail?
Sort of. In another blog post, we put together a 5-step overview on setting up email tracking with Google Analytics. But it’s somewhat difficult and clunky, and there are far better options for tracking email than using Google Analytics. To get the best results, you’ll need to rely on a third-party email tracking app for Gmail that links to your account and specifically tracks your Gmail metrics.
The 8 Most Important Email Tracking Analytics
If you can gather the email tracking analytics to objectively understand your habits, you can learn what your biggest mistakes are and start to compensate for them. But which email habits are most important to track?
These are some of the most vital areas to measure, both in terms of their impact on your overall productivity and their accessibility to change:
1. Emails sent and received.
Email can be a major source of stress, and that stress compounds with increasing volume in emails sent and received. Measuring the number of emails you send and receive tells you how your workload increases or decreases over time. If you measure this stat for your employees and teammates, you can quickly determine who’s falling behind and who’s overloaded with work, so you can rebalance your workloads appropriately.
2. Emails by category.
You’ll also want to track how many emails you’re getting in each of several categories, and how many emails you have in each section of your inbox (such as inbox, trash, or various labels).
3. Popular times and days.
Ideally, you’ll learn how your email traffic volume changes over time, both in terms of time of day and day of week. You might find that Monday mornings open the floodgates for email, making it virtually impossible to do anything else, while Friday afternoons are a bit of a lull. With this knowledge, you can optimize your workflow to take advantage of the least active times (and avoid scheduling things for your busiest times).
4. Average email response time.
The quicker your average email response time is, the better (in general). Interested leads will be more likely to continue the conversation with you, and your internal team will get the information they need faster as well. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to track your average email response time in Gmail; you’ll need a separate email tracking tool.
5. Popular senders and recipients.
It’s also good to learn who your most common senders and recipients are. You may find that some people in your network of contacts require more interaction than others. If you have a problematic client or teammate, you can talk to them about their ongoing email habits, and hopefully reduce your workload.
6. Average thread length.
Conversation threads can quickly escalate to waste your time—especially if the participants aren’t following the basic rules of email etiquette. It’s therefore in your best interest to pay attention to how your threads develop over time. Learning the length of the average thread, the typical thread initiator, and other metrics can help you keep your Gmail threads under control.
7. Time spent writing and reading.
It takes time to draft an email, even if you’re only writing a few sentences. It also takes time to read incoming messages. But if you can’t seem to find the words, or if the majority of the emails you receive are disorganized, the time you spend reading and writing emails can skyrocket. It pays to understand just how much time you’re spending here, so you can manage the potential issues more effectively.
8. Team email tracking.
If you’re managing a team, or if you’re one of several collaborators working together, you’ll benefit from tracking the email habits of everyone on the team—not just yourself. It provides the transparency necessary to balance your team’s workload, while providing insight into issues that could compromise your team’s performance.
Understanding these email tracking metrics will make you not just a better emailer, but also a more productive professional—assuming you can take action based on the insights you find.
EmailAnalytics: The Email Tracking App
So, how can you get started with email tracking for your own email account or that of your employees or team members? We’ve created an email tracking program to quickly and easily solve that for you.
Our email tracking app for Gmail will integrate seamlessly with your Gmail account (and the accounts of your employees or teammates), at the click of a button, and tell you everything you need to know about your ongoing email habits (including all the email metrics listed above, and more).
Offering both pure numbers and visual displays, you can quickly and intuitively see which of your email habits (or your employees’) require your attention. Sign up today for a free trial (no credit card required!) and learn how your email habits are impacting your productivity via our comprehensive-yet-simple email tracking services.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.