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

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has become one of the industry's most powerful Internet Marketing tools, helping advertisers, publishers and website owners improve their sales conversion, campaign targeting and marketing initiatives. Previously dubbed Urchin, Google Analytics is a robust web statistics software application provided by Google free of charge.

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

After basic set-up, marketers can track important statistics like visitor referrers, navigation paths, page views, 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 resides in, so you can more carefully target future ad campaigns.

While 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. 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 Set-Up

Using Google Analytics, email marketers gain greater control over the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of each campaign. Send carefully targeted, relevant messages, improve revenue opportunities and enhance your 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 website files. Once you've created a Google Analytics account and placed the provided code into your website, 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, like StreamSend, 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 between 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 in-bound 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

* 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 website traffic. Find out which links were most popular with your recipients, when they visited your website, 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, i.e. 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 website, percent of new visitors to your website 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, like 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 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 layout to their audience's preferences, minimize steps in the purchase process, reduce shopping cart abandonment, improve landing page effectiveness and keep visitors on your website 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.

Dan Forootan is the President of EZ Publishing, Inc., the creator of the StreamSend Email Marketing service.

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