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Best practices for email tracking using Google Analytics

Do you send email newsletters to your customers? How many people click on them to visit your website? What do they do once they get there? Do Text emails work better than HTML emails? Those are some of the questions you will be able to answer if you use Google Analytics to track your email newsletters.

Here is how you do it. When you are creating the links in your newsletter, visit the URL builder (http://goo.gl/WodTW), add the URL you want to use, and fill the following parameters:

1. Source: [newsletter edition, e.g. newsletter-apr-2012]
2. Medium: email
3. Term: [identifier for the place where the visitor is clicking, e.g. top-image]
4. Content: [txt or html]
5. Name: [newsletter name, e.g. product-news]

Once you do that and send out the newsletter, you will be able to check this info under Traffic Sources => All Traffic. If you search for "email" you should find your newsletter entries. After doing that, you can select the Secondary dimension drop down (as shown in the image below) and see how each newsletter performs for keywords clicked, ad content (txt or html) or campaign (newsletter name).

All the info above can be changed to fit your tracking needs and if you use a tool like +MailChimp, they will do it automagically for you. For more on this, watch the hangout I did with +Chris Lang. We start talking about email tracking at minute 33:50. Here it is Google Analytics For Social Media
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45 comments
 
No. I seriously considered doing it, but decided to add this piece to G+. I think this summarizes pretty well...
 
Terrific, I will share this later in the AM when more will see it in the US.
 
Excellent - thanks Daniel - I'm going to get right on to this.
 
Very clever. I wondered how those e-mail marketing companies did this. Now we know their secret.
 
Thanks Daniel I can see how this will work for tracking clicks to our own website, but as a NFP organisation we have many sponsors/partners whose news stories we include in our newsletters. Will this allow us to track clicks from our newsletters that link to external websites?
 
+Charles Harwood in fact this will track people after they land on the website, which is not always the same as clicks. To track clicks (bot to your site and to others) most email sending software, like mailchimp, will provide this option.
 
How did you feel about the querystring option that I have been using +Daniel Waisberg ? I use rel=mail in my links, than track that occourence in URLs on my site.
 
+Chris Lang, that's not optimal. The best way to do it is to use utms, otherwise you won't see it as a traffic source. The way you are tracking you will be able to see when people land on the website, but not what happens afterwards, as is the case with the utms.
 
we're already capturing visits from email. my question is: is there a way to capture individual email address as well? to get a more granular view of knowing "who" exactly visited my site. 
 
+Jessy Wu, it is possible but not permitted. According to Google Analytics terms of service it is forbidden to collect Personal Identifiable Information, which is clearly the case with email addresses... 
 
+Jessy Wu services like Office Autopilot and I think Hubspot allow you to track the website activity of your subscribers and to trigger actions based on what they do. That happens after they subscribe. But it doesn't link up with Google Analytics data (and it sounds like from what Daniel says above that it woudl be against Google's TOS if it did).

I remember seeing a while ago a script for Infusionsoft which stored the GA data (keywords, referrer) in the contact record of the contact when they subscribed so you could track individually where subscribers came from. I thought at the time "I bet that's against Google's TOS" and it sounds like it was.
 
Great content mate! Thanks for sharing!
 
Daniel...can you track if you have like youtube url, linkedin, etc in your email signature anytime you send out an email and someone one clicks on.  This is not a newsletter.  Thanks.
 
 I am sending an email campaign with links to different pages on an ecommerce site. Can I put the page specific url's into step1 of the URL Builder Tool or do they have to be top level domain url's for just the website?
 
Excellent article Daniel. May I ask, we regularly sponsor newsletters from publications in our industry.
Is it possible to track the webflow (clicks) from these newsletters into our website via the advertorial / web banners etc? This way I can accurately gauge what sources of advertising are working for us best.
Great work. Thanks again.
 
Thanks for the article. May I share it with credit? In fact, I would like to email it to my list... with citation credit of course.
 
Hi what if you know the value of this exercise but have no ability to do it on your own? (e.g. can not put in parameters, URLs, etc. to save my life)
 
Can you install the Google Analytics tracking code (Javascript) into the HTML of an email?  Thinking of setting up a remarketing campaign to my newsletters subscribers and using this to stay in front on the subscribers who open the email but don't click through.  Any ideas?
 
Nathalie - scripts tend not to work in emails. The normal way of doing what you describe is to track the clicks from your email system and remarket to those who've opened but not clicked. How you do this is dependent on the functionality of your email marketing system - with some it's dead easy, with others it's more convoluted.
 
Ah - my psychic powers kick in once again. I'll leave you to answer the tricky questions though Daniel.
 
Thanks +Ian Brodie. How would your email marketing system be able to remarket using the display network to those who only opened?  Wouldn't you have to place a cookie on their browser?
 
Hi Nathalie - my initial idea was to remarket via email. You'd remarket in the sense of sending them further emails. You know they were interested enough by the subject line to open, but not compelled enough by the body and call to action to click. So you'd keep a similar subject but change the what you do in the email body.

If you're talking about remarketing via display ads then that's more complex. Normally remarketing requires javascript which can only be done on a web page (unfortunately they often call the remarketing code a "pixel" which confuses things).

However, I believe it is possible if you use Sitescout for remarketing. Not sure it works with Adwords.

Sitescout has an html alternative to the javascript. It's essentially an image pixel just like the pixel used to track open rates on emails. 

So what you can do is use the image pixel code in your email to target an audience of people who've opened the email.

You'd then have a script on your page that the link leads them to that would remove them from the audience if they went there. Net result is an audience of people who opened but did not click.

Just like open rate tracking, it only works if people have image tracking on. And I've not tried it myself. But worth a look I think.

Ian
 
Keep us in touch if you do try it. I think this kind of stuff is the real secret to remarketing today. Not blasting everyone who ever came near your site or emails with the same ad, but segmenting by the page they visited, taking them off the list if they buy, Following up on abandoned carts. Changing the message over over time, etc.
 
I'm curious if one can find out the technology users are using to open our emails if I implement google analytics in our email campaigns. It would be great to know the browsers and devices they are using. I know we can see that info from our website visitors, but is it possible to tell for email?
 
Curious...why not just use email marketing software (Aweber, GetResponse, MailChimp, etc.)? They have all this tracking ability built-in plus more. In addition, if you're sending mass emails from your Gmail account you run the risk of your account ultimately getting banned or locked if there are enough spam complaints. 
 
+Chris L Davis, I certainly don't recommend people to use their Gmails to send emails! And of course you should use their stats as well (such as open rate and click rate), but their stats are very limited, they will tell you how many people opened and clicked on a newsletter, but not what those people did on the website and if they ended up making a purchase for example. 
 
+Daniel Waisberg Lol, I agree. I personally use GetResponse and it has Google Analytics built-in. However, for the very reasons mentioned on this post I've seen marketers move towards Infusionsoft or Office Autopilot
 
Nice post. Thank you gave me some insight to what I need to implement.
 
Thanks for the post! Google says there are three tags you should use at least: source, medium and campaign, I see you didn't mention this last one (is "campaign" the same as "name"?).
 
Thanks! Daniel W.. This is exactly what I was looking for. 

Happy holidays all.
 
Good article! Another quick and easy way to track opened emails in Google Analytics is the tool www.pixelsite.info - it does not require any programming and is very intuitive. All data gets posted straight into your Google Analytics account and you don't have to share passwords and such.
 
Hello Daniel,
Using your method, is it normal that my trackers only work when the url ends by .com or .html other Analytics don't manage to display anything...? Thx
 
Hi,

First of all, good article +Daniel Waisberg 

I just tryied and worked fine this to track email openings: http://es.dyn.com/blog/tracking-email-opens-via-google-analytics/

At the end, generates link like: ttp://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&tid=UA-12345678-1&cid=CLIENT_ID_NUMBER&t=event&ec=email&ea=open&el=recipient_id&cs=newsletter&cm=email&cn=Campaign_Name

Replace the values for your values and thats it. You can go to Events on realtime section or events on behaviour section to see the results.

It suposes that using the filed cid, you can check users who opened the emails, but I still trying to get this information from analytics.

If you want to track campaigns, you can use URL Builder and replace your "normal" links with "campaign" links.

Regards,
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