Oct 18, 2012

What Can Email Marketing Tell You?

Email marketing campaigns are a cost-effective way to reach consumers and retain visitors. With the tools we have today, we’re not only able to see how many emails are sent and track click-through rates, but which links are clicked in your email and, if applicable, how your email marketing campaign converts into sales.  And it’s a simple task: add custom campaign parameters to your URL.

By simply assigning parameters to the end of an existing URL, the link data can be tracked in Google Analytics. The parameters are variables that can contain identifiers that help you review results by source, medium, campaign and even content. An example would be:


There are no specific terms or tags that are required, but using descriptive tags and being consistent will help when retrieving data at a later date. And Google offers insight on how to use the parameters to be benefit you and your campaign; they even provide a URL builder if you want to take the guesswork out of it. 

By building URLs and adding custom campaign parameters, tracking email performance in Google Analytics is a cinch.  Based on the parameters you utilize, Traffic Sources is able to sort by source or medium (i.e.: email or email newsletter).  If URL parameters are created to track specific emails (try adding a date/time stamp or subject line), you can drill down to the campaign and see results specific to a certain email, even review which call to actions are be selected the most.

So how can we see sales conversions from email marketing campaigns? It’s quite easy.

The best way to evaluate email performance is to create a custom segment so that you can drill down the data and view only mediums that include “email” [or the tag you assigned to the medium parameter].  Apply your segment and then revisit Traffic Source and select the Ecommerce text in the Explorer tab (just above the line graph).  Sales conversions are at your disposal and can be categorized by source or medium, or add a secondary dimension for even more information about your emails.

So while the data Google Analytics generates isn’t exact, we can begin to establish trends and optimize email marketing campaigns to make them more efficient. Testing subject lines and visual content within the email can yield interesting outcomes, but the email’s layout and even the day of the week it was sent can produce different results. 

When there’s an option to measure, it shouldn’t be overlooked—one day’s worth of data may not much of a story, but after gathering months’ worth, the results begin to paint a different picture to help build a new email strategy.


Contributed by , marketing analyst