Data visualization is an extraordinarily powerful tool for organizations, giving you the ability to analyze, at a glance, some key element of your operations—like forecasting sales or evaluating the strength of your marketing campaign. Today, there are more opportunities than ever to visualize your working habits (and your organization’s strengths and weaknesses), but many business owners aren’t tapping into that potential.
If you use Gmail, there’s a way you can tap into your Gmail account activity, and visualize your performance, your workload, and your efficiency all at the same time—a Gmail report. But why is your Gmail account activity important in the first place, and how can you tap into it efficiently? Let’s explore.
Table of Contents
- Reasons to Visualize Your Gmail Account Activity
- Key Metrics to Track in Your Gmail Account Activity
Reasons to Visualize Your Gmail Account Activity
Let’s focus on why you might visualize your Gmail account activity in the first place.
We often take it for granted, but email is a massive component of most businesses. You’re probably sending and receiving hundreds of emails a day—thousands of emails a week—which means even a slight disruption in your email habits could result in a massive productivity loss. Measuring and analyzing your email activity can help you understand and improve the following:
1. Workload indication.
First, your email activity is a general indication of your workload. If you study your email patterns, you may find that you have a disproportionate number of inbound requests on a certain day of the week, or a certain time of day. This can help you better plan and prioritize your work, ultimately helping you get more done. You may also discover that you handle way more messages than one of your coworkers or one of your employees, indicating it may be wise to rebalance workloads by delegating more of your tasks.
2. Communicative efficiency.
Much of your organization’s success depends on your ability to communicate effectively. If you can’t convey instructions articulately or quickly, your team won’t be able to complete their work in a timely or valuable way. If you aren’t responding to your clients fast enough, you could miss out on sales. If you spend too much time writing and reading emails, you’ll exhaust countless hours of your day, eating up time that could be better spent on more productive, valuable tasks.
3. Organization and potential.
Most email users don’t spend much time or effort organizing their inbox. Instead of carefully categorizing their emails into respective sections, they let their inbox overflow with messages. Visualizing your email activity can help you understand your current organization habits, and incentivize you to adhere to your new organization strategies. You may also be able to highlight key opportunities for self-improvement.
4. Overall productivity.
There’s no skill cap for improving your email habits. No matter how experienced you are or how much effort you spend, you can always learn more about how to write more persuasive emails, how to word your emails more effectively, how to write more concisely, how to manage email threads more responsibly, and how to respond in an efficient way—without needlessly distracting yourself. Studying your Gmail activity habits with visuals can help you discover dozens of ways to improve your email-related strategies, and can help you track your improvement as you incorporate those strategies into your daily routine.
5. Employee accounts.
While some of the best benefits of Gmail activity visualization come from your ability to analyze your own workload and your own efforts, don’t forget you can learn key insights by analyzing the activity of your employees’ email accounts as well. Studying your employees’ email account activity, workloads and habits can help you better structure your workflows, analyze individual strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately improve the performance of your entire team.
Data analysis is one thing, but having access to manipulatable data visuals is even more impressive. Having access to visuals can help you in several ways:
- Intuitive comprehension. Humans evolved to be able to rapidly discern and analyze visual information. We didn’t evolve to rapidly analyze numbers on a spreadsheet. Accordingly, it makes more intuitive sense for us to look at a graph, chart, or other visual than it does for us to mindlessly review numerical information. People who study visuals can immediately grasp a core concept—like a major spike in email traffic on a certain day of the week—and get a “feel” for what it means in context. Obviously, this isn’t always a pure strength; sometimes, visuals can be misleading, or cover up important considerations like outliers. However, for most people most of the time, this is a massive benefit.
- Tweaking and experimentation. If you’re using the right platform, you’ll have control over the visuals you project. You’ll be able to tweak different variables and layout options to see your visuals in new and interesting ways. For example, you can easily analyze your Gmail account activity for a certain day of the week, then adjust the parameters to see how it changes for a different day of the week. Depending on the software you use, you may be able to experiment with dozens of variables to get a better understanding of your habits.
- Easy communication. If you’re monitoring the Gmail activity of your employees, visuals make for an excellent communicative tool. It’s one thing to tell an employee you believe their workload is too light, or that they aren’t writing emails in an efficient way. It’s another to show them a graph that indisputably demonstrates how their habits play out. If your entire team is willing and eager to improve their Gmail habits, you can use visuals as a way to collaborate—and mutually track your progress.
By now, you probably understand why it’s so important—and so powerful—to visualize your Gmail account activity. So how can you do it?
Gmail has a lot of built-in tools to help you email more effectively, but unfortunately, there’s no built-in tool to grant you data visuals to help you analyze your email patterns. Accordingly, you’ll need a third-party tool for this purpose.
We may be slightly biased here, but we’re confident that the best tool on the market is our own EmailAnalytics, an email counter (and much more).
With EmailAnalytics, you can integrate your Gmail account (or your employees’ accounts) with a single click; at that point, the tool syncs your data and presents it to you in easy-to-read graphs and charts to help you understand the activity on each of those accounts. If you interpret these visuals with the intention of forming actionable insights, you can rearrange workloads, improve your communication strategies, and work more efficiently—ultimately bringing a host of benefits to your organization.
Key Metrics to Track in Your Gmail Account Activity
With EmailAnalytics, you’ll be able to explore dozens of metrics on your Gmail accounts with interactive visuals. These are some of the most important:
1. Emails sent and received.
First, you’ll want to visualize how many emails you’re sending and receiving. It’s a basic metric for your Gmail account activity, but one of the most important for a high-level understanding of how your account works. It’s especially important if you’re comparing one employee’s Gmail account activity to another’s. For example, if two employees on the same team share the same responsibilities, but one sends and receives 200 emails a day while the other sends and receives 50, it’s a sign there may be a problem with your team’s workload distribution.
2. Top senders and recipients.
It’s also useful to study the top senders and recipients of each of your Gmail accounts. When you visualize this activity, it should be glaringly obvious that some of your contacts either play a more important role in your daily work, or occupy more of your time than they should. For example, you may find that one of the clients who pays you the least is one of your top email senders, while one of your most lucrative and important clients rarely sends you messages at all. This could be a signal that you need to adjust what you charge, or else have a conversation about communicative efficiency.
3. Email traffic by day of the week.
This is effectively a more focused way of tracking productivity and/or workload. With this data visualization, you’ll display how your email traffic changes with each day of the week. Chances are, you’ll see a major dip Saturday and Sunday, and a spike on Monday and Tuesday, leveling off throughout the rest of the week. But what else do you notice? Are there certain days that are much busier than others? Do you notice that one of your employees has a strange drop in traffic on Wednesdays when the rest of your employees show no significant difference in their mid-week emailing habits?
4. Email traffic by hour of the day.
You can also dig deeper and look at how your email traffic changes throughout the hours of the day. Again, you’ll probably notice the common pattern here; you’ll send and receive lots of emails in the first couple hours of the day, with a drop at noon, and a steep drop at 5 pm. By studying your employees’ Gmail account activity, you might discern different fluctuations in their personal levels of productivity. This can help you in a few different ways; you might be able to capitalize on someone’s “morning oriented” personality by collaborating with them earlier in the day, or you might adjust how you structure breaks to keep people productive throughout the afternoon.
5. Emails by category.
Visualizing your Gmail account activity can also help you understand how your emails are allocated in your account; for example, you’ll be able to see how many emails are in your inbox, sent folder, trash, and other various categories. This is mostly an organizational tool, but it can keep you accountable to any organization- and productivity-related goals you set. For example, if you’re trying to get back to inbox zero, or if you want to spend more time effectively categorizing and prioritizing your emails, you can use this handy visual to gauge whether you’re on the right track.
6. Average email word count.
On some level, email word count is an arbitrary measure; some concepts require more body content to describe effectively, and that’s totally okay. However, sometimes a chronically excessive word count is the sign of someone who doesn’t spend much time making their messages more concise. Studying your visuals and comparing them to your employees’ accounts can help you evaluate whether there’s an efficiency problem in employee email drafts. If there is, you can spend time workshopping different communication strategies, and guide your employees to write more concise, to-the-point messages.
7. Average email response time.
If you use email as a primary channel for sales or client communication, you should know how vital it is to have a quick email response time. If a prospect reaches out to your team with a request for a quote but it takes two business days to get back to them, they may already be working with one of your competitors. Tracking email response time is a good way to verify that your current system is working, and help you brainstorm ways to improve it. For example, you can spot trends of increasing or decreasing email response time, and capitalize on them for future improvements.
8. Email thread length.
Email threads can be an effective way to collaborate, or submit a message to multiple people simultaneously. However, they can also be easy to abuse. Replying All to an email thread distracts everybody copied on the message and may not necessarily be productive to the conversation. On top of that, old threads can be resurrected, and threads can be hijacked for unrelated topics. Visualizing your Gmail activity can help you keep tabs on how threads get created, who’s creating them, how long they last, and what kind of impact they’re really having on your team’s overall productivity.
If you’re ready to start visualizing your Gmail account activity, you need to give EmailAnalytics a try. Sign up for a free trial today, and you’ll gain access to all of EmailAnalytics’ interactive data visualization tools instantly. It’s a simple step to take, but it can have a profound effect on your team’s overall productivity—and the future of communication in your business.
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 selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.