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The success of your email-marketing campaigns cannot be determined without proper focus on what reports are telling you, and reporting on click-throughs is a critical way of determining how engaged your audience is.

Unfortunately, a lot of email marketers throw around words and phrases such as "Google Analytics," "tracking," and "metrics" without really knowing how to translate link reports into successful email-marketing campaigns.

Here are some tips on how you can use links and reports to boost your return on investment and customer interest.

Cut back on images

Simply stated, the more images you have in your email, the greater the chance that subscribers will leave your email to visit the Web version. And if subscribers go to the Web version, you can't track via email analytics where they clicked or where they went after they visited your website.

Keep your image count low to reduce the chance of subscribers' leaving your email.

Set up Web tracking

Understanding which links were clicked on in your email is a great start, but expanding that process to your website is even more important.

With Web analytics, you'll know which pages your customers visited on your website, which products they're browsing, and where they abandoned their shopping cart.

Create good landing pages

A landing page is more than a place to send customers when your email threatens to be too text heavy; it should be a gateway to other parts of your website where customers can learn more and make purchases. With email, you're only as good as where you send your customers after they click on that link.

Don't go overboard with links

Packing your newsletter with links is tempting, but remember that you want to keep your customers focused. Too many links can overwhelm subscribers and turn them off altogether, giving you no data on their preferences. Instead of cramming 50 links in your newsletter, put in five focused ones.

Track more than product browsing

For every customer who goes right to your product page, another visits your testimonials or how-to pages. Are you getting that data?

Use analytics and email-link tracking to see where your customers went, outside your product and sales pages, when they left your newsletter.

Tracking visits to your sales pages is great, but remember that customers can visit any area of your site, from your About Us page to the newsletter sign-up area.

Close off those dead ends

Like traffic after a football game, customers tend to bottleneck in certain places on your website. When your customers click on links in your email newsletter, check whether a large number of subscribers dropped off at a certain page, and make changes accordingly.

Use a strong call to action

The standard call-to-action link, "Click here," may get the job done, but you can get more clicks if you move beyond that overused phrase.

Try links that say "Find out more on our Top 10 most-popular brands" or "To use your summer barbecue to the max, keep reading." Give customers a nice tease on where you're sending them, and you'll see your click-through numbers jump when your reports come in.

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To really get the good data and make the most of your click-throughs, you need to do more than check out reports to track links.

If your email newsletter contains solid, interesting links, your subscribers will not only spend more but also look forward to every email you send.

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Andy Shore is a marketing and social networking expert at Benchmark Email (, an email marketing service.