Google Analytics is a powerful website tracking tool, which can be used for campaign tracking as well.
Why should you prefer GA over your Email Service Provider’s (ESP) built-in analytic tools?
First of all you don’t have to choose one analytics over another, they both work together for your benefit, but if you track your campaigns with Google Analytics and use it for tracking your main site, you can compare user behavior and traffic from various sources in a very convenient way and take advantage of the myriad features that Google’s software has.
However, GA won’t replace your ESP’s reports by itself. It’s impossible to track, for example, opened emails with Google Analytics. You can only track clickthroughs to your website and their activities on your website with Google Analytics, but it is very useful either way.
How to integrate Google Analytics with your email campaign?
For starters, create a Google Analytics account if you haven’t got one already. It’s obviously better if you track the site and the email campaign with the same tracking software; simply follow the site integration directions given on the site and continue with the article once you’ve set GA up and running on your website.
To start tracking links in your campaigns, you will have to format them accordingly if your ESP doesn’t support formatting links automatically (using Mailigen, provides simple option to set up tracking code in STEP 1 of campaign creation by entering referral campaign name). You have to format the links so the analytics software knows the source and campaign to which the link is ‘tied’ to.
You can use Google’s URL builder to format links easily.
1. Paste the URL you want to track into the Website URL field.
2. Specify the source of your visits in Campaign Source. Usually, the name of your ESP is added here.
3. Set the medium of your campaign in Campaign Medium – in most cases, you’ll want simply “email” here.
4. And in Campaign Name you should add the date you sent the campaign.
Although ‘Campaign Name’ implies that this field will house the name of the campaign, the date of sending will have more meaning in the long term. The prefix “nl” implies that this is a newsletter you’re sending — we’ll return to this one a bit later.
That was easy, right?
Click ‘Generate URL’ and the end result will be a formatted link:
Reading your data
Once you’ve sent your first campaign with GA tracking, log into your account and click ‘View report’ for the website you are tracking.
Then, in ‘Traffic sources’, click ‘Campaigns’ and you’ll be able to see which campaigns have generated the most visits.
Organizing your data over the long haul.
For your statistics to make sense in the long run, you must organize the actual acquisition of data very thoroughly.
Naming each campaign as the “subject” field of each email will help you recognize the campaign easier in short term. However, the actual date of the campaign will become a more meaningful statistic when you want to compare email metrics by month, year, et cetera.
Follow naming conventions, and you’ll end up with more organized email marketing reports over the years.
Using advanced segments to boost email campaign tracking
Remember, we named our campaign ‘nl03-20-11’?
The Advanced Segments feature in Google Analytics offers segmenting your data with conditions in order to acquire easy-to-use results that you can compare to other data in your metrics.
If you have followed the naming convention (type-month-date-year), you’ll end up with newsletter metrics from March 2011. Convenient.
By using Advanced Segments, you will be able to filter results by years, months, and campaign type. For example, if you want to filter only data without the newsletters, you can create a segment with the condition ‘does not start with’ and the value ‘nl’.
If you add ‘nl’ prefix to newsletters and ‘pr’ for promotional emails, you’ll be able to compare the visits generated from promotional emails and regular newsletters.
Taking rigorous measures to organize your email marketing reports is to no avail if you don’t actually do anything useful with the data at the end.
We will be happy to help you with email campaign tracking integration if you get in to some trouble down the road.