Building Profitable Email Campaigns with Google Analytics

With the run up to the holidays, more businesses are turning to an old-but-trusted marketing tactic to reach out to customers. Email marketing has always been a powerful tool for attracting prospects and retaining customers. Your subscribers have interacted with your business and by opting in, have also agreed to be contacted (occasionally).

Because email marketing is easy to implement and highly measurable, it is an essential tool in any marketers toolkit. But like every other form of marketing, email campaigns need to be fine-tuned over time. While most email providers have analytics dashboards built in, they usually only offer basic information like click-through and open rates.

Click-through rates don’t necessarily equal conversions; do you know what happens after subscribers click a link in the email? To make a success of email marketing, you’ll need more data. How do you plan to optimize campaigns if you don’t know what has worked in the past? How do you find a baseline to measure success or failure against?

The handy Google Analytics dashboard and it’s many customization options offers a way to track your newsletters beyond the open rate. We’ve previously shown you how to use Google Analytics to track which channels visitors arrive at your site from. But unless you set up your tracking in a specific manner, you won’t be able to differentiate between direct traffic and email traffic.

To separate these channels, you’ll need to set up UTM variables. These are parameters embedded in links in the emails you send out as part of your campaign. When subscribers click them and land on your site, Google Analytics can identify exactly which channel has brought the traffic.

Setting up the tracking is straightforward, with the help of the Google Analytics URL builder. The free tool allows you to build the links you’ll place directly in your email marketing campaign. Getting the required links is as simple as filling out a few fields and the required link is generated for you to add to your campaigns.

On the URL builder page, type in the URL you are sending visitors to. Next, choose which parameters you want to track e.g. which links were clicked, which campaign it’s part of etc. You can do this by adding up to five different ‘labels’ to the query string for the URL.

The URL builder has fields for:

  • Campaign Source – Used to identify the source of the email list, either a search engine or newsletter and appears after utm_source in the URL.
  • Campaign Medium – Identifies the marketing channel used to generate the traffic, social, email, organic etc. Denoted by utm_medium in the URL.
  • Campaign Term – An optional field used if there is a specific keyword to be associated with the campaign; denoted by utm_term.
  • Campaign Content – Used for differentiating between ads so they can be split-tested. split testing ads i.e. utm_content
  • Campaign Name (utm_campaign) – Give the campaign a logical name that makes it easy to find and track in your dashboard.

This results in a long, but highly targeted link, which allows you identify your best performing email campaigns. With the UTM tags in place, you’ll be able to track the exact elements of the campaign that you should replicate for more success.

Campaign tracking allows you differentiate between incoming traffic, compare traffic from different sources and measure the success of email campaigns, all in your Analytics dashboard. Accurate tagging can be the difference between collecting valuable data or just a mass of numbers that simply don’t tell you anything.

When using Google Analytics for tracking email marketing, some of our suggested best practices include:

  • Pay attention to the name you give your campaigns, it is vital that you name campaigns in a logical manner. Running a Black Friday deal? An example of a sensible campaign name is black_friday_2015, as opposed to discountedoffers.
  • When using multiple words to name a campaign, separate them with an underscore.
  • It’s also advisable to use lowercase characters across board.
  • The point of tracking is to find the elements that lead to conversions, so keep a detailed record of the parameters used in tracking. Use an Excel sheet or Google’s free InfoTrust Google Analytics Campaign Tracker sheet.

After your newsletter has gone out, you will see an initial spike in website traffic, but wait for a week after the campaign has ended. You’ll notice traffic will continue trickle in even after the campaign may have run its course.

What’s next after the initial set up? Join us next week, for more tips on how to measure  email impact.

With the power of email to generate repeat business and the power of Google Analytics to show you what’s working best, isn’t it time to dust off that subscriber list? Don’t build your campaigns (or business) based on guesswork. With so many tools available, you can create profitable campaigns over and over.

Still stumped? Call Search & More today, let’s take the guesswork out of Google Analytics for you.

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