By Barry Blassoples, Head of Sales and Success at timetoreply
The work from home revolution means that sales teams are using email as their primary form of customer and lead communication. In navigating the current crisis, and planning for the recovery, sales, and customer success leaders will need to do more than track open and click-through rates if they want to capture revenue quickly. Instead, they’ll need to focus on the often-overlooked email analytics that directly impact the bottom line. Most teams are unaware and never track these ratios—yet doing so can be the impetus that saves their company if sales have dropped.
Email usage in 2020 is on the rise as employees work from home
According to a Gartner survey conducted in June 2020, 82% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home. As employers move toward a hybrid workforce, email has risen in popularity and is increasingly the primary form of lead and customer communication. In fact, according to HubSpot, eight out of ten prospects prefer to talk to sales over email instead of over the phone or in-person. Furthermore, 78% of companies surveyed have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. That may be because sales teams working from home are loathe to use their personal phones to make business calls. However, sales tend toward email anyway, as there is less sense of rejection than phone calls.
Traditional Email Analytics tools don’t paint the whole picture
Marketing teams are well-versed at tracking the regular email analytics like open rates, click-through rates, and potential sales conversions. Indeed, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 90% of companies say that engagement is their top measure of success.
However, these analytics fail to measure account management, client relations, and sales-related emails and ignore crucial metrics like responsiveness. Without the right tools and analytics, there is no way for managers to know if all lead and customer emails are being addressed, and there’s no way of knowing how long the team is taking to get back to customers.
If companies want to be well-positioned to capture a limited pool of leads, they will need to focus on a new set of email analytics that measures speed above all else.
The element of speed is crucial because this current challenge is likely to have a profound impact on who is left standing when the crisis finally abates. In the battle for new and existing customers, in a COVID-down economy, companies that focus on responsiveness will reap significant rewards.
Recently recognized email ratios
A report published by the Harvard Business Review revealed some shocking facts about the impact of responsiveness on sales.
Organizations that respond within one hour to a lead query are seven times more likely to qualify the lead than those who responded in just two hours, and 60 times more successful than those who responded within 24 hours. In fact, 78% of sales go to the first company to respond to a lead.
And yet, despite the hard facts, the average response time to a sales lead is 42 hours.
Responsiveness is equally as important for support and success teams, as prospects will go elsewhere if not responded to.
- 80% of Americans say speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service are essential elements to a positive experience.
- 80% of customers will also continue using a business and spend 67% more – when expectations are met.
- But, 60% will walk after a few bad experiences.
That’s a massive problem, and there is a clear disconnect between perception and reality. While 80% of businesses believe they deliver superior service, 62% of companies do not respond to customer service emails at all. Furthermore, 90% of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that an email has been received, and only 20% of companies answer questions in the first reply. Clearly, many businesses are not tracking their teams’ email responsiveness, and have been ignoring this critical performance metric.
How to track your team’s email responsiveness
Email analytics is a specialized category of software that tracks email responsiveness or the ‘time to reply’ ratio. The benefits of using email analytics software are multiple. It is SaaS-based and so can be remotely rolled out, without disturbing workflows or having to train teams to use a new tool. It is non-intrusive, meaning it does not access email body content or attachments (incredibly important when considering employee privacy and information security, especially when compared to more invasive employee monitoring software). The actionable insights are also essential in helping to correct slow response times, reveal time-sucking email behavior (like email ping pong) and coach where necessary, and finally, help to forecast growth scenarios and opportunities.
Evaluating email analytics solutions
When evaluating email analytics options, it is best to look for software that is universally compatible, delivers high-quality analytics in real-time, can be used to report on individual and shared mailboxes, and delivers the most comprehensive data for the price. Let’s review each of these requirements in detail.
Universal compatibility means the ability to track individual and shared mailboxes for all email clients, including Gmail, G Suite, Outlook, o365, IMAP, MS Exchange, Mac Mail, Mimecast. Your email reporting data should easily integrate with your other reporting data via an API. This
means that you can roll your email data stats into a broader picture of how your team or
company’s performing or use the data to support contractual agreements (i.e. a support center
responsiveness agreement) or win more business.
High-quality performance analytics will enable managers to analyze results across multiple team members and teams. You should be able to see your team’s inbound and outbound email volumes (a great indication of workload and productivity), and average reply times (initial and overall) as this is the data you will need to set goals, KPIs and improve performance. You should also be able to see and track their ‘time to reply ratio’ or the relationship between their reply time and how this impacts their contact success rate. Some tools also allow you to track first and last activity times, which will give you stats on when your staff is online and engaged, working within the agreed-to hours and not beyond them if it’s not policy to do so.
Your ideal solution should be able to track individual email performance, as well as group mailbox performance. More than that, the best tools allow you to see who’s contributing the most or least to a group mailbox. This will allow you to re-balance workloads among your team members, identify areas of productivity improvement, and start new initiatives with team members who have extra time to spare.
Lastly, choose a tool that gives you comprehensive data, real-time reporting metrics, trends analysis, and scheduled reports that can be sent out automatically to teams and senior management so that no one has to login to yet another system to get what they need.
To drive rapid sales recovery, companies will need to rethink the email analytics they report on. Sales, account management, support, and customer success teams will require a new standard of tools and metrics that track responsiveness and speed, alongside traditional email marketing metrics. There needs to be greater collaboration and coaching between front-line sales reps, customer-facing teams, and leadership in order to meet consumer expectations, bridging the gap between company perception of service delivery, and the hard facts that indicate that many leads and customers are left disappointed. Companies who commit to making data-driven decisions, and who show the ability to adapt resources accordingly, will improve contact success rates and conversion rates, ultimately helping them to survive the crisis and lay the foundation for future growth.
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