I recently launched Curve Trends Marketing website. One of the channels I am considering for announcing the launch is an email campaign. Almost all of the businesses I work with or know of, continue to adopt this time tested channel, be it for newsletters, new offers or even for product launch/event announcement.
A big challenge we face as analysts while analyzing email performance for clients is the lack of proper link tagging. So, while drafting the email newsletter, I thought, why not address this as I build the link tags.
What is email link tagging & why do them
Tracking email campaign performance in Web Analytics is done using a process called link tagging. A typical email contains between five to unlimited number of links. The primary goal of these links is pretty much the same. They are all directed to a landing page, which more often than not is a page on your website. The tagging also enables you to associate all visitor actions (like conversions and transactions) with the email.
Let’s look at this sample link..
If someone clicks on it and lands on the home page, I would never know who they are, where they came from, and more importantly, why are they on this page .
So, here’s I how am going to tag it :
Once the email is deployed and someone clicks on this link, the resulting url will be not just http://www.curvetrends.com/ but the whole phrase above. This is also a good way to test your links to see if they are tagged before you send out your email.
How to do what I just did
As you can see, I added a bunch of additional info to the URL. They’re called link tagging parameters. The name of the parameter is on the left side of the equal sign and the value of the parameter is on the right side.
Now let’s try and explain the logic and the process behind building each of these parameters.
The medium tells us what platform the visitor selected to come to the website. I always prefer using “email”. It’s easy and simple and does it’s job. I never recommend adding any extra value or description to this. As you’ll see later, using a single value “email” simplifies the process of consolidating all emails into one line item for reporting purposes.
Let me try and simplify the best way to define a source so as not to complicate things during reporting. Always and I insist on this.. always start with the date of the email , followed by the name of the list.Think about it in terms of who you are sending this email to and the date. For example, some of you might choose to send a certain newsletter to just your customers. In that case you can name it as
Others might want to segment their list differently. But you get the point. Assign the date & whom you are sending to as your source value.
Think of the marketing campaign that the email is a part of.In this instance, it’s my website’s launch.
Keep in mind that a campaign has several different medium. Email is just one of them. Paid ad , a banner on your website or a press release could be several other parts of that campaign. One thing I would make sure is that all of these have the same campaign name, so that you can club them together while reporting for performance evaluation.
There is another parameter that I have not used here is the utm_content.You can choose to use utm_content when there are more than one versions of the email. For example, if I choose to offer two different discounts for the same audience and try to test which works better, I’ll use utm_content. These would be then my two versions of the content:
But unless you really have a lot of content variations to test, this could be an overkill in terms of data capture.
This is another parameter that I have not added as it is relevant for those of you who are spending on paid advertising. Take the top paid keywords ( unbranded) from your web analytics report and plug them here. If the email is on a product, focus on the top paid keywords on that particular product.
What is a good resource to actually help build these tags
I would recommend using Google’s free URL builder as a very good starting point.
Just use the above logic to fill in the values. For example, in the campaign source, I am going to fill in the value : 02-25-2010-xxxnewsletter-customer-list. Same with others.
The Fun Part- Reporting
Why fun? Because all the above values you added , will now get pulled into your analytics report .You would actually be seeing them and analyzing the performance of your campaign based on those values.
I always start with the campaign. After all, email is almost always part of the bigger campaign.
This report lists all the values of your utm_campaign parameters. Now select the name of the campaign that your email was part of and then select medium. You will see a list of medium that was part of this particular campaign including email.
In this case we only used one medium (email) for the campaign.
You can then click on the email to get the source and content details for this particular campaign.
Speaking of details, you want to understand not only visits, pages/visit and/or average time on site but also conversion metrics. They are available in the goal tab. The above account is an instance of a non-ecommerce site. For sites with ecommerce, you can also find out the amount of sales, net revenue and finally the ROI of this campaign in a third tab named Ecommerce. Sweet!
Make sure to combine the above with the metrics provided by your email provider. Metrics like open, unsubscribe, click through, and bounce rates.
Now, enjoy your new found power and utilize it to its potential. Let us know if you are able to leverage the benefits. Have you done anything different in the past? If so, how? For those of you who are already tagging links, please share your experience with us.