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Google Analytics: Using Metrics to Track and Improve Email Marketing Results

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Marketing professionals know that careful, accurate, and constant campaign tracking and analysis are just as important as delivery itself. Your email marketing campaigns, integrated with Google Analytics, make this possible—and easier to do than ever before.

What Is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (previously Urchin) has become one of the industry's most powerful Internet marketing tools, helping advertisers, publishers, and Web site owners improve their sales conversion, campaign targeting, and marketing initiatives. It is a robust Web statistics software application provided by Google free of charge.

Google Analytics is simple and easy to use, and anyone can start benefiting from it in just a few minutes. Just add some basic code to your Web site, and you're ready to begin monitoring visitor trends.

After basic setup, marketers can track important statistics like visitor referrers, navigation paths, pageviews, geo-location data, and browser type. Know where your visitors come from, whether referred by search engines, ads, emails, blogs or affiliates. Know which cities, states, and countries your primary visitor traffic comes from so you can more carefully target future ad campaigns.


Though it's hugely popular with webmasters and usability professionals, some marketers have yet to realize the value Google Analytics plays when used to monitor email marketing campaigns. You can track, evaluate, and analyze results using colorful graphs and charts. Google Analytics makes it easier to identify trends, improve usability, and increase your return on investment.

Email Marketing Campaign Setup

Using Google Analytics, email marketers gain greater control over the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of each campaign by sending carefully targeted, relevant messages, improving revenue opportunities, and enhancing business reputation.

To get started, create a Google Analytics account by visiting www.google.com/analytics. Follow the directions provided to place tracking code onto the relevant Web site files. Once you've created a Google Analytics account and placed the provided code into your Web site, you'll need to add parameters to URLs in each email marketing message. These denote which visitors arrive as a result of each email marketing campaign.

While some email marketing products add these parameters automatically, it takes just a few minutes to set it up manually.

Google Analytics looks for a few basic values in each link, namely the campaign source, campaign medium, and campaign name. To set up these values manually, simply change the parameter names shown in parentheses below:

  1. Campaign Source (utm_source). This identifies the name of your email marketing system, such as StreamSend. If you don't use an email marketing system, you can label your campaign source "Email Marketing."
  2. Campaign Medium (utm_medium). This identifies the campaign instrument used. In the case of email marketing, your medium is "email."
  3. Campaign Name (utm_campaign). This identifies the name of your campaign. The Campaign Name helps you differentiate among various campaigns or unique messages within each. Most email marketers use their message subject line or other identifying value for this parameter.

Using this process, campaign managers can monitor inbound visitor traffic for any destination URL, whether a main landing page, a product page or other sub-page.

Example: Main Landing Page

  • Before tagging: http://www.example.com/
  • After tagging: http://www.example.com/?utm_source=StreamSend&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=My%2BEmail%2BSubject

Example: Sub-Page

  • Before tagging: http://www.example.com/index.php?page=home
  • After tagging: http://www.example.com/index.php?page=home&utm_source=StreamSend&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=My%2BEmail%2BSubject

Tracking Email Campaign Results

Once an email campaign is properly coded and delivered, Google Analytics automatically monitors resulting Web site traffic. Find out which links were most popular with your recipients, when they visited your Web site, how long they stayed, and where they navigated following arrival. Then adjust campaigns, body text layout, and other variables to improve results over time.

To view campaign results:

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account.
  2. On your Dashboard, click Traffic Sources.
  3. View your Top Traffic Sources, or click View Full Report to see all traffic sources.
  4. Locate and click the link identifying your email marketing Campaign Source. In our example above, your Campaign Source is your email marketing product: e.g., StreamSend, or "Email Marketing."

On your Campaign Source page, Google Analytics provides details on the number of visitors generated by your campaign, the number of pages they visited, average time on your Web site, percent of new visitors to your Web site, and the average bounce rate.

Campaign managers can also drill down using the segments drop-down menu. This provides even greater detail on individual campaigns, keywords, geographic regions, browser types, operating systems, and visitor activity, such as the most popular landing and exit pages. Each results page provides the means to drill down even further and fine-tune your data.

Google Analytics dramatically enhances the abilities that e-commerce firms have in retaining and converting customers. Simply use the E-commerce tab to display purchase information to calculate ROI numbers for your campaigns.

Using Google Analytics, email marketers can discover simple ways to more effectively tailor their promotional messages, design and lay out to their audience's preferences, minimize steps in the purchase process, reduce shopping-cart abandonment, improve landing-page effectiveness, and keep visitors on your Web site even longer by identifying and optimizing the weak links where most of your visitors exit.

Use today's robust delivery and tracking tools, and make each message count.


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Dan Forootan is president of StreamSend Email Marketing (www.streamsend.com), a provider of email marketing solutions. He can be reached at dforootan@streamsend.com.

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Comments

  • by Lorre Tue Jun 3, 2008 via web

    Hi ~ good ideas, but the instructions can be more clear for those of us who doln't know how to do this. Where does one place this code?

    "Using this process, campaign managers can monitor inbound visitor traffic for any destination URL, whether a main landing page, a product page or other sub-page.

    Example: Main Landing Page

    Before tagging: http://www.example.com/
    After tagging: http://www.example.com/?utm_source=StreamSend&utm_medium=...

  • by Joshua McNary Thu Jun 5, 2008 via web

    Good primer Dan.

    Google Analytics is a great tool to implement. You get a ton of great data and it is much easier to use than other previous generation tools I have used.

    In addition, I also use ClickTale and Woopra (Beta) to be able to live track my visitors. These tools also do analytics like Google, but specialize in letting you see what your visitors are doing (or not doing) as they move through your page. You can then change your site to optimize.

  • by Nick B Thu Jun 5, 2008 via web

    Really helpful article Dan.

    Also, thanks Josh for the heads up on Clicktale and Woopra, interesting stuff...

  • by Kim C Thu Jun 5, 2008 via web

    We host our website with Godaddy and the analytical tools you mentioned above are offered for a very small fee. I use the tools specifically to monitor the effectiveness of my various internet campaigns and find the data to be fascinating. What's really great about the Goddady tools is that I don't have to mess with the HTML code. This is very helpful since we outsourced the development of our website and don't have to grab a programmer ever time we want additional information.

  • by Gary Levitt Thu Jun 5, 2008 via web

    We're looking at getting this installed on madmimi.com, it'll be a nice addition.

  • by Bill Kenderdine Thu Jun 5, 2008 via web

    ~ Hi Lorre ~ Response to your code question: the "after tagging" URL goes into the anchor tag in the HTML email.

    Like, if your HTML email has a link to your website's home page, and that link currently looks like this:
    http://www.LORRE.net/faq.htm

    then you would update that with tags to look something like this:
    http://www.LORRE.net/faq.htm?utm_source=StreamSend...

    If that did not answer your question, then feel free to say so.

  • by Varun Badhwar Fri Jun 6, 2008 via web

    Hi Dan / Joshua,

    Yes, Google analytics does provide lots of information about visits, pageviews,bounce rate, new visits,traffic overview,popular sections on the site and much more that you can expect from a free service.

    But joshua, could you please give details if google analytics throw the same no.s as woopra and clicktale, although i know they (woopra and clicktale) give you specialised data about the visitors.

    As,i have not been really sure about the no.s and figures google analytics give.

    But, google analytics has given respite for marketers as it does not ask for any technical mumbo jumbo.

    Thumbs up for sure..!


    Varun Badhwar

  • by Joshua McNary Fri Jun 6, 2008 via web

    Hello Varun,

    You mentioned you are not sure "about the numbers" these tools provide. I think you mean you are not sure if they are accurate. Am I correct?

    Google, ClickTale, & Woopra all use simple scripts on each page of your site - with this they then collect and analysis the data to provide your final numbers. Generally, all three tools push out similar end results regarding numbers, but because they all use different engines to do this, it may not be 100% the same. ClickTale & Woopra also provide information about specific users (via IP addresses) specific actions on your site.

    Further, the numbers provided by these tools are by no means standardized. For instance, one tool may call a specific computer visit to your site/page a "unique visit" while other may call it a "visit," etc. This can complicate evaluation of the data. Google does a great job of providing clear definitions - these other tools also have info (in forums, FAQs, etc.), but not as robust as Google.

    Hope this helps!

    --Joshua

  • by Varun Badhwar Sat Jun 7, 2008 via web

    Hey Joshua,

    Yes, I meant if they are accurate or not.

    Thanks for giving some insight into this..

    Varun Badhwar

  • by HiYaYa.com Mon Jun 9, 2008 via web

    Very informative article for someone wanting to learn the basics of Google Analytics.

    Varun: I believe the information in Analytics is relatively accurate but of course you should factor in a margin of error. The real benefit is to look at %'s instead of raw numbers, such as what % increase did your unique visits see due to a specific marketing campaign?

    Nathan Lands
    http://www.hiyaya.com
    "Changing the way people buy online"

  • by Dan Forootan Mon Jun 9, 2008 via web

    ** Lorre, Bill is right on the money. I think this might be useful for creating links. It's a URL Builder that Google provides.

    http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55578

    Also, our email marketing system auto-tags the URLs to make the tagging a lot easier. I would love to hear your feedback if you end up trying it out.

    Thanks everyone for reading. I might do a follow-up piece on this, any suggestions on what else I should cover?

  • by chiraz Tue Oct 21, 2008 via web

    I'm not propiétaire a website, how i can use google analitycs

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