use email reporting stronger email analysis small file sizeCollecting data—now that has become the easy part. I’d guess most, if not all, businesses these days are actively collecting customer data, from the mom-and-pop coffee shop to the Fortune 500 companies.

Getting data is obviously not the issue.

Mining that data for business intelligence is. And the numbers prove it.

According to a recent survey, over half of the Fortune 1000 companies surveyed still rely on past experience and instinct (i.e., “gut decision making”) to create their campaigns. Only 11% of those companies use data to support their marketing decisions.

We need that data for smarter marketing (and remarketing). Yet most of us don’t know how to use it, in part because we lack the tools. But if even the Fortune 1000 companies aren’t able to use their data for better email marketing, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The good news is, there is hope. Take these two steps today and you’ll be well on your way to usable data tomorrow:

1)   Use only the data that matters.

2)   Find the email reporting tool that will help you use that data wisely and profitably.

Don’t drown in that data!
When you send lots of emails, you generate lots of results. Every email has some kind of result. It gets opened (or not). It gets acted upon (or not). It’s gets a click or a forward—or neither. It might get an unsubscribe or a spam report, or might lead to someone browsing your website and buying (or not).  

All of these results make up your data. The bigger your list and the more frequent your sends, the more data your email reporting generates. Every send + every action (or inaction) + every subscriber = a lot of ever-increasing data.

Is your head spinning yet? It needn’t be, because you don’t necessarily need all of that data. Simply figure out how to narrow down the data points to those you really need. Or follow the advice in this ExactTarget blog post and “ask small questions.”

Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish with your email marketing program and what data you need to accomplish that goal. Be specific with your goals. For example, “achieve a higher ROI” is not a specific goal and therefore won’t keep you from drowning in data. If you can’t get specific, break it into pieces. Maybe tackle increasing open rates only. Then worry about re-engaging inactive subscribers. Then work on click throughs, or seasonal selling. But not everything needs to be (or should be) tackled at once.

Use an email reporting tool to make sense of your data
When you have millions of data points, how do you really know what’s working? You need to have a way to make sense of all your data points and see what really matters–and get that information quickly and clearly so you can act on it.

You need an email reporting tool to help you make sense of the huge amount of data you’re generating. When you are looking for an email reporting tool, keep two things in mind: make sure that it does what you need it to do, and make sure it’s a visualization tool.

Why visualization is so important
Why should you look for a tool that offers visualization of data? Because massive amounts of data are much easier to comprehend and compare when you can simply look at graphical representations of that data. Color-coded graphs and charts and bars make it easy to spot trends and to see how well (or poorly) an email performed.

At ClickMail, we saw clients collecting data but not able to make much sense of it. So we turned to the visualization powerhouse, Tableau Software, and integrated it with ExactTarget to create eMVision.

eMVision is an email reporting tool that integrates ExactTarget email performance data with the visual analytics of Tableau Software for easy to understand email reporting. The visualization of data made possible by Tableau makes it much easier to spot (and act on) patterns and trends. The screenshots you see here are taken from eMVision.

eMVision isn’t for everyone because it’s built for ExactTarget users only. But it provides an example of the kind of data analysis you can do with a visualization tool. And it’s an example of the time saved: With an email reporting tool that offers visualization, marketers can do in minutes the kind of analysis that used to take hours, or even days…if it could be done at all.

Although you still might have your fill of facts even after you’ve narrowed your focus, it’s not too much to wrap your head around if you have a powerful email reporting tool that can help you make sense of your data by enabling you to visualize it.

Published On: January 29th, 2014Categories: Email analytics

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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