SMB's of the world... get business intelligence from your email with ReportPlus

Guillermo Lopez / Wednesday, January 16, 2013

There are lots of small businesses out there that rely on email accounts for mission critical processes, I know because I used to run one. This is particularly true for lead capture, and issue & feedback management.  Emails like:, or are everywhere.  In some cases it is applied even to areas like expense tracking. It goes like this… one partner tells the other: “Expense tracking is getting out of control, we should do something about it”, the other replies: “I’ll create a specific email inbox, for it” and boom, it feels like you have it under control now (you don’t of course). Bottom line before you know it you may end up with email accounts for all major organizational processes.

There are of course better ways to do it, as the organization matures and more structured CRM  and BPM systems are put in place, but for small shops and startups a web contact form that sends an email upon submit is a lightweight and cost effective way to get started. 

The problems start to come afterwards, when you want to get some email analytics, in order to be able to answer questions like:

  • Should we hire our first customer services representative?
  • How many requests are we currently handling per week?
  • What day of the week requests peak?
  • What's the current trend in leads? How can I back my perception that we are getting more leads with some objective data?

Is with those scenarios in mind that we shipped IMAP support with ReportPlus in version 1.5. The goal is to allow SMB’s to also be able to analyze the stream of emails they receive in a cost effective way, getting intelligence without the hurdle of setting up more complex solutions.

Get started, configure the IMAP connection

In order to create a new connection to an email server, create a new IMAP connection.  For instance to configure a connection to GMAIL servers you need to configure host name as: and then enter you user and password as account credentials. If you work in a more corporate environment and use Microsoft Exchange you should talk to your systems administrator to get the IMAP endpoint of your Exchange server.

IMG 0531

Getting intelligence from that email stream

Once the connection has been successfully configured you should be able to browse the server folders, specially the INBOX and Sent Items folders, that’s where the juice usually is, but it depends on how you may have chosen to structure your emails in folders. 

ReportPlus IMAP Parameters

Just like with any connection in ReportPlus, you start by dropping a dataset to the dashboard canvas, you can do so with the INBOX folder, and after the data is retrieved from the server you should see a grid view with all the emails for the last 30 days. By default ReportPlus querys only the last 30 days, but you can change this in the Parameters pane in the Pivot Edtor View.

ReportPlus IMAP Parameters

From there on you can start pivoting that information to get some business insight from emails received and sent.

A sample email analytics dashboard

The following is a basic dashboard I created to show basic stats of one of my email accounts. It displays total emails received, emails received and sent over time, top 10 senders, and distribution of emails received by day of the week (where 1 is sunday).

ReportPlus IMAP Dashboard

Sadly it turns out I get most of my emails from the likes of: Google, Facebook, and Amazon… it makes you long for the days when humans did most of the email writing.