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Are your email campaigns effective?

4 October, 2007 (21:53) | Testing | By: Nick Dalton

In the previous article we tracked how your visitors came to your web site from another site or a search engine. This article is about tracking visitors from your email campaigns.

Most autoresponder services like AWeber and GetResponse show statistics on how many emails were delivered, how many were opened and how many people clicked on a link in the email. These number are all good to know, but they don’t help you determine the ultimate results of the campaign: sales or other opt-ins.

With Google Analytics this is very easy to track

First you need to create the URL in a specific format. Google’s URL Builder Tool will help you with that the first couple of times, then you’ll easily recognize the format. Here’s an example:

  • The first part is your regular URL. You don’t have to setup a special landing page for your email campaigns with this technique.
  • utm_source is the source of the traffic. Select a name or abbreviation that is meaningful to you. In this case “tlm” stands for The List Machine, which is a service that for a relatively low fee allows me to send out three emails per week to 1,000 recipients.
  • utm_medium can for example be “ppc” for a pay-per-click campaign or “banner” for a banner ad campaign. Here I’m using “email” as it is an email campaign.
  • There are more parameters available, but these are the basics.

This is what the resulting data looks like in Google Analytics, under Traffic Sources > All Traffic Sources > Site Usage:

Email Traffic Sources -Google Analytics

As you can see the number of visits contributed by these two email sources, “yll/email” and “tlm/email”, is not very high for this time period. And the Avg. Time on Site and Bounce Rates are outright terrible. If you didn’t track and measure clicks from your emails, you would never know.

But what’s even more important than the number of visits is the Goal Conversion:

Email Goal Conversation Sources -Google Analytics

In this example I’ve defined a goal for Outbound Click which tracks clicks on affiliate links on the site. You would expect there to be a correlation between these outbound clicks and income, so this is a really important statistic to track. Here we see that the email sources fall even further down the list when we sort by goal conversion.

You can also track conversion rate over time. With this information you can see if your inhouse mailing list is starting to suffer from promotion fatigue and you can make corrections before it’s too late.

Setting up goals in Google Analytics and assigning Goal Values in dollars will be covered in a future article.

Is it worth it?

If you have ever tried any list service like The List Machine, Your Lucky List or List Dot Com then you know that the click through rates are very, very low. I typically send out excerpts of my blog posts through these services, so I’m not trying to sell anything. While this still gets pretty low CTR, I manage to get a couple of sign-ups per week to my email list or RSS feed from these sources. People who I would probably not have reached otherwise. And since I have automated the process it’s not any additional work for me.

If you have a more tangible cost for your campaign, for example if you paid for each of the leads, then it’s essential that you track the real results of the campaign, not just email opens or link clicks.

When JV partners send out emails on your behalf to their lists you should give them URLs that include these tracking parameters. utm_source can for example be their affiliate id. And you should also add a third parameter called utm_campaign which is used to identify a specific product promotion. Your affiliate tracking system should already track sales and associate them with the correct referring affiliate. But with these URL parameters you can also track non-payment events like people signing up to your email list or requesting more information.

Your action items:

  1. Add these tracking parameters to your next email campaign that you send out.
  2. Track and measure the results in Google Analytics.
  3. Use this feedback to improve your future campaigns.

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