While working on an email campaign for a client who markets to manufacturers in the Process Controls and Automation industry, I was asked if there was an easy way to combine web analytics with email marketing.
He was already using Google Analytics (GA) to monitor his Web site. However, there really wasn’t a good way for him to track site activity after each email campaign went out.
My client wanted to gain a better understanding of Web site interactions that could be tied to a specific email and help him refine his landing pages to improve his lead generation efforts.
The problem with basic email metrics of open and click-through (CTR) rates is that they are very limited in their usefulness. Here’s why:
- Open rates are tracked using a one pixel image embedded in the body of the email message. In order to combat SPAM, most email applications like Outlook by default block images. Therefore, image blocking causes open rates to be underreported. This problem becomes even more acute if you send out emails in plain text format
- Google will lump visitors to your site who clicked on a link in your email under Direct Traffic. This is also where Google will report visitors who used bookmarks or who typed your website’s URL into their browser. This makes it impossible to identify site traffic coming from your emails.
- Measuring click-through rate is more accurate but still limited as it only tracks a specific URL and doesn’t show how the visitor interacted with your site after arriving at your landing page
I did some online research to find a solution that wouldn’t require my client to spend a lot of money on additional tracking software and/or training his internal sales and marketing team. While researching the problem, I found that there was a real need for easy integration of web analytics with email marketing. So my client’s request was not an isolated case.
The solution that I felt would best suit my client’s needs required adding Google Analytics to his emails.
If you visit Google’s blog on Google Analytics, you will find lots of tips on tracking email campaigns. There’s a handy tool called the Google Analytics URL Builder that is great for generating tagged links that you can add to your email campaigns.
However, my client wasn’t inclined to do all that extra manual work.
Many email service providers (ESPs) allow easy integration of Google Analytics with their email creation and tracking service. I chose Benchmark Email (affiliate link) which was very similar to his existing service provider but offered some nice extras.
I use the service for my own email marketing and was very familiar with their user interface, which helped me get the client up and running quickly.
How to add Google Analytics to Benchmark emails
Here are the basic steps (NOTE: Your steps may be slightly different, depending on your ESP):
- Create a free Google Analytics account and set up the code on your Web site (You may need the help of your IT department or a Web designer for this part)
- Log into your new Google Analytics account and create Goals. (A goal is a website page which a visitor reaches once they have taken a desired action)
Example: Thank you page after registering or downloading a white paper
- Take it a step further by defining your conversion funnel. Although funnels are optional, defining one can help you map where visitors drop off during the path to completing a goal. This in turn will help you fine-tune your web pages and improve conversion. (Here’s a very good checklist on setting up Google Analytics)
- Log into your Benchmark Email account and click on the emails tab
- Check the box to activate Google Analytics for that campaign
- After the email campaign is sent, check your Google Analytics. Here’s how: :
- Log into Google Analytics
- Click on Traffic Sources
- Select All Traffic Sources
- Use the “Show” pulldown menu and sort by “medium”
- Click on the “email” medium or utm_source=(List Name)
- Once you do this, you’ll see all your email marketing campaigns
- Click on the “Goals” tab to view detailed statistics on web interactions and goal conversions from each campaign
My client is very happy with this solution and reports a significant improvement in his lead generation efforts after integrating Google Analytics in his email marketing campaigns.
Do you integrate Google Analytics into your emails or do you use another solution?