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How to track your campaigns with Google Analytics email tracking

Using email marketing analytics correctly is what separates regular email marketers from good email marketers. Many email marketers don‘t even know about Google Analytics email tracking.

Google Analytics is a powerful website tracking tool that can be used for campaign tracking as well.

Why should I use GA over your Email Service Provider‘s (ESP) built-in analytic tools?

First of all, you don’t have to choose one analytics tool over another, they both work together for your benefit, but if you monitor your campaign’s email tracking on Google Analytics and use it for tracking your main site, you can compare user behavior and traffic from various sources in a very convenient way and take advantage of the myriad features of Google’s software.

However, GA won’t replace your ESP’s reports by itself. For example, it’s impossible to track opened emails with Google Analytics. You can only track clickthroughs to your website and their activities on your website with Google Analytics, but it is very useful either way.

How do I integrate Google Analytics email tracking with my campaign?

For starters, create a Google Analytics account if you haven’t got one already. It’s obviously better if you track the site and the email campaign with the same tracking software. Simply follow the site’s integration directions and continue with this article once you’ve got GA up and running on your website.

To start tracking links in your campaigns, you will have to format them accordingly if your ESP doesn’t support formatting links automatically. You have to format the links so the analytics software knows the source and campaign the link is ‘tied’ to.

You can use Google’s URL builder to format links easily. Here are the steps:

  1. Paste the URL you want to track into the ‘Website URL’ field.
  2. Specify the source of your visits in ‘Campaign Source’—usually, the name of your ESP is added here.
  3. Set the medium of your campaign in ‘Campaign Medium’—in most cases, you’ll want simply “email” here.
  4. In ‘Campaign Name’ you should add the date you sent the campaign.
  5. Click ‘Generate URL’ and the end result will be a formatted link.

Although ‘Campaign Name’ implies that this field will house the name of the campaign, the date of sending will have more meaning in the long term. The prefix “nl” implies that this is a newsletter you’re sending (we’ll return to this a bit later).

Reading your data

Once you’ve sent your first campaign with GA tracking, log into your account and click ‘View report’ for the website you are tracking.

Then, in ‘Traffic sources’, click ‘Campaigns’ and you’ll be able to see which campaigns have generated the most visits.

Organizing your data over the long haul

For your statistics to make sense in the long run, you must organize the actual acquisition of data very thoroughly.

Naming each campaign as the “subject” field of each email will help you recognize the campaign more easily in the short term. However, the actual date of the campaign will become a more meaningful statistic when you want to compare email metrics by month, year, et cetera.

Follow naming conventions and you’ll end up with more organized email marketing reports over the years.

Using advanced segments to boost email campaign tracking

The Advanced Segments feature in Google Analytics offers segmenting options for your data with conditions in order to acquire easy-to-use results that you can compare to other data in your metrics.

By using Advanced Segments, you will be able to filter results by year, month, and campaign type. For example, if you want to filter only data without the newsletters, you can create a segment with the condition ‘does not start with’ and the value ‘nl’.

If you add ‘nl’ prefix to newsletters and ‘pr’ for promotional emails, you’ll be able to compare the visits generated from promotional emails and regular newsletters.

Final thoughts

Taking rigorous measures to organize your email marketing reports is to no avail if you don’t actually do anything useful with the data at the end.

Google Analytics is a very powerful tracking tool with myriad features like Goals and Alert Tracking; use them wisely, think over the long term, and good things will come.

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