Tagging Your Emails for Google Analytics Tracking

In my last post I discussed the basics of campaign tagging and how it can help you track the performance of your inbound links. In my next few posts I’m going to focus on tagging specific mediums starting today with email. In my opinion, email is the most important medium to tag. My reasoning is threefold.

Mail - All Traffic Sources   Google Analytics

First, your analytics will be terribly skewed if you just send out email campaigns and fail to tag them. People using offline mail applications like Microsoft Outlook will click on your links which will open their default browser and go to your site. This will register as a direct visit which is far from the case. Even worse can be online mail providers like Yahoo which will show up as any number of random referral sources like "us.mg1.mail.yahoo.com" and "36ohk6dgmcd.yom.mail.yahoo.net" that would take a lifetime to sort through, consolidate and make any sense out of.

The second reason tagging your emails is important is that your mail provider’s stats only tell part of the story. Typically a mail provider will tell you your email campaign’s open rate, unsubscribe rate, and maybe your click through rate but it stops there. These basic stats are great but what happens after the open, and the click? If you tag the URLs in your email then you can tell what those visitors who clicked through did on your site, and compare it to the other mediums you are using to drive traffic.

Third, if you can’t accurately track visits from your emails how do you plan to measure ROI? Your costs could include mail provider’s fees, design costs, content costs, the cost of your mailing list and at the very least somebody’s valuable time. Tagging your emails allows you to associate visits from email to your ecommerce or conversion events on your website that, if configured correctly in Google Analytics, will have $ values associated with them allowing for some basic return on investment numbers.

So how do you accurately tag your emails using the URL Builder? Before diving in remember that your data in Google Analytics will only be as good as the data you put into your tagging, so be descriptive.

Using the URL Builder, here is how I suggest tagging your email URLs:

Campaign Source:

The source will indicate who sent out your email. If you’re sending it out, use your company name. If your vendor or partner is sending it out for you to their list, use theirs.

Campaign Medium:

This should be “email”. As with every field, make this lower case to keep things consistent.

Campaign Term:

Term doesn't have a great fit for emails but you can always add extra info here if needed (e.g. sending the same email out with 4 subject line variations.)

Campaign Content:

Content will be used to describe the link in the email and help differentiate between multiple links that point to the same page on your site. You might have your homepage linked to from the logo in the header, a text link in the body and again in the footer. For those I would use “header company name logo”, “body company name”, and “footer company name”.

Campaign Name:

This is the name of your email campaign. It could be “june newsletter” or “10 percent off offer” or “widget x product announcement”.

Once you have tagged your links you simply point the actual links in the email (e.g. your logo or text link) to go to your tagged link. After sending out your tagged email you will be able to find your new data under Traffic Sources > Campaigns. Once there, you can drill down on a specific campaign or toggle the secondary column between “Source”, Medium”, or any of the other components of your tagged link to gain insights on what is working and what isn’t in your emails. With Goals and/or Ecommerce properly configured in Google Analytics you can track the conversion rate and revenue of your visitors from your email campaigns and do a quick ROI calculation to compare to other mediums. Overall, tracking the success of email campaigns is an important task for any online marketer and Google Analytics offers a free and relatively easy way of doing so (note that MailChimp is now offering to auto-tag your emails.)