Use Email Analytics to Close Sales

by | Oct 5, 2016

If you’re a salesperson getting started with leveraging email marketing, lead nurturing and email templates, all the jargon can be confusing.  However, there is a lot of power to engage with customers and close sales in the data about your email efforts so, let’s clarify the jargon and discuss best practices for using email engagement to drive sales engagement.

The main terms to get to know are:

  1. Opens
  2. Clicks
  3. Opt-Out
  4. Bounce

Email Opens

An email is recorded in your email marketing system as “Opened” when the recipient opens the email in their email program (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) and views the images and text in the email.

Practically, this means that they saw your email in their inbox and either because they recognized your name/email address in the From column of their inbox, or because the subject line caught their attention, they decided to view the body of the email instead of delete it.

So, when a customer opens your general marketing email, it’s not a very strong signal of interest or intent to purchase.  It just means your messaging got their attention.

If you’ve sent a customer a proposal via email, then the fact that they’ve opened it is more important!

Email Marketing systems and CRMs track opens by embedding a tiny image in your email template that no one sees but, when the recipient views the email and the image is pulled from the system, that recipient is shown as having opened the email.  This is not always accurate.  Depending on the recipient’s mail program and settings, such as “preview mode”, just opening their inbox can register an open.  This is the most common reason that a recipient sometimes registers multiple opens.

Email TipDon’t think of an open as a strong sales signal unless you were sending a proposal, price quote, etc.

If a customer shows multiple opens on one email, it could be a quirk of their email program OR it could mean they are keeping your email in their inbox and re-reading it over and over!

For general marketing emails, a rule of thumb is that 10-20% of your emails will be opened.

Email Clicks

An email is “clicked” when the recipient actually clicks on a link in the email to visit a web page, watch a video or download something.

So, a click is a far stronger indication of interest or intent.  The recipient saw your subject line, was interested in that, then opened the email, read it and then decided to click on a link in the email.  Typically, salespeople can watch for clicks on emails and contact those recipients and find they have a relatively “warm” prospect.

Email Tip

Email Tip

Send interesting articles,videos, etc. to potential prospects and then call those that click on the link to read or watch.  That can be a great way to have “warm” conversations with pre-qualified leads.

Videos get clicked on 2x as often as links to articles, etc.  Use videos in your emails!

CRMs and Marketing Automation solutions measure clicks by embedding special code in the URLs in your email template so that when the link is clicked, the link points first to the email solution and then to your intended destination for the recipient.  Of course, all this happens so quickly the recipient doesn’t notice it.

For marketing emails, a 1-2% click rate is a good benchmark.  That means 1-2% of the overall list size.

So, if you’re sending an email to 10,000 contacts, you might see 1,000 to 2,000 opens and 100 to 200 clicks.  This is one of the key revelations of most sales teams when first venturing into marketing automation.

If you have less than 5,000 contacts on your list, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to have a large number of responses.  But, depending on your business, 1 or 2 responses might be great!  If you have a relatively small list today, invest time and energy in building up your list.


Also known as unsubscribes, this happens when a recipient receives your email and clicks the link at the bottom to “unsubscribe” or opt-out of your list.  Essentially, they’re saying “stop emailing me!.”  And, that is handled automatically by marketing automation and CRM solutions.  Once a recipient opts-out, the system won’t send emails to them anymore, until they “opt-in” again.

Sales Teams are often very concerned about compliance with “CAN-SPAM” regulations.  Essentially, making it easy for the recipient to opt-out and respecting their wishes when they do is the main things you have to do under the law.  Again, virtually all email marketing and CRM solutions make sure this is the case!

Depending on your business and the type of customer that opts-out of your list, you might decide to “manage” the situation differently.

For a general marketing contact on a big list that you’ve never done business with, you should probably just leave them alone or ignore them.  If you’re emailing current customers, you might want to call them and learn why they opted-out, as his can help you improve your emails in the future.


A “bounce” is when the receiving mail server tells the sending mail server that the email was not delivered to the recipients inbox.

This can happen when the email address is invalid, but also can happen when temporary issues prevent delivery.

A “hard bounce” is when the email address is invalid.

A “soft bounce” is when the email address is valid but, the email was undelivered because the recipient’s mailbox is full or the server is down or sometimes when a vacation reply is received.

All email marketing and marketing automation systems will stop sending immediately when a hard bounce is registered.  This is because many ISPs (Gmail, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.) will start to block your emails as spam if you continually send to a mailbox that they’ve told you (via the hard bounce message) is invalid.

Email marketing systems handle soft bounces differently but, in general, they’ll continue to send to an address that has a soft bounce a few times but, after several soft bounces in a row, they’ll treat it like a hard bounce and stop sending to that address.

Here’s a more indepth discussion of how various systems handle bounces and what to do about it.

In general, you might want to call and get an accurate address if the contact is highly valuable to your business.

A best practice is to give each salesperson a list of recipients in their territory that have bounced recently and let them follow up via phone.  Often there has been a personnel change and that can often mean opportunity!  Or, you might find they just changed their email address and can update it.

Get started with your email marketing efforts slowly and treat it like an experiment.  Test your first email with a portion of your list, then adjust based on the opens and clicks and send again.

Email TipUse the Open rate to optimize the subject line and the click rate to optimize the body and call to action within the email.You’ll find that the data will guide you to success.