Tips for Tracking Email Marketing Campaigns

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 | 2:09 PM

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Email campaigns are a cost-effective way of attracting quality return visitors to your site. It's important that you tag your email campaigns with campaign tags so that you can track how well each email performs. This lets you optimize your efforts and track your return on investment.

What are campaign tags?

Campaign tags are additional information that you apply to links. Once a link is clicked, the tag information is passed to Google Analytics. Tagged links allow you to evaluate the performance of individual links within your emails.

Why tag email links?

Let's say that you send out an email newsletter in January and February that does not use campaign tags. Visitors coming from emails reported within the Referring Sites Report will only include visitors coming from web-based email clients like Gmail:

But, did they visit your website as a result of the January email or the February email? Unless you've used campaign tags, you'll have no way of knowing.

Visitors who click a link in your email using an email client on their computer will be reported as Direct Traffic -- and will therefore be grouped in with visitors who used bookmarks or who typed your website's URL into their browser.

A quick reference for tagging emails

The Google Analytics URL Builder is a great tool for generating tagged links to use within your email campaigns.

You can pass the following information to Google Analytics in the form of campaign tagged links:

Name Description Examples
Campaign Name Name of the email marketing campaign. Email News,
Email Promo 14 April 2009,
Email Newsletter May 2009
Campaign Source Use Campaign Source to identify who distributed your email newsletter. If you are sending your own email campaign then use your own company name. If you advertise in other email newsletters then use the name of the particular company sending that newsletter.
Campaign Medium Set Campaign Medium as 'email' for all your email marketing campaigns. email
Campaign Content (optional) If you have multiple calls to action within your email, use different Campaign Content tags to see which version drives more visitors. 20% Discount Offer,
New Product Information,
Support Services
Product Image,
Read More Button,
Text Link
Campaign Term (do not use) Recommended for use in tracking Keywords in search marketing campaigns.

Make sure that you are consistent with the names that you use in your tags. For example, if you enter the source as Company_Name, company-name and Company+Name for three different emails, Google Analytics will report these as three unique sources.

Important Tip: Remember to generate new campaign tagged links for each campaign you send, otherwise you will not be able to compare your individual campaigns over time.

Making Life Easier

Don't have time to manually create campaign tagged links? There are several online email marketing solutions that automatically apply Google Analytics campaign tags to the links included within your emails.

These four solutions can automatically apply campaign tags to links in emails.

Campaign Monitor allows you to define which links should automatically have campaign tags applied (specified by domains) and allows you to assign the Campaign Source on the settings page.

MailChimp allows you to enter the Campaign Name when you create a new email campaign.

Be sure to research the limitations of each tool before launching your campaign. Campaign Monitor and MailChimp do not automatically differentiate unique links within an email. You may still want to manually tag each link within your campaign if that data is important to your organization.

That's all! Happy tracking.

Updated on 11/10/2011 -  with clarification for use of "Campaign Term".