Email marketing and Google Analytics

I doubt many (sane) individuals would argue with my saying that both email marketing services and web analytic packages – such as Google Analytics – are valuable and proven tools for any business looking to drive and measure web traffic.

Yet it’s not always happy families between these two trusty allies of the marketer…

In fact, some recent analysis into our own clients who use our own software to deliver and track their email campaigns, suggested a far bleaker situation: email and analytics had separate bedrooms, and kept the doors locked.

Relationship Issues

For our analysis we concentrated on clients using Google Analytics. It’s no secret that Google Analytics dominates the world of web analytics. It’s great to use, has awesome customisation possibilities and is completely free. And most importantly (in this case) it’s used by around 70% of our clients on their websites.

The analysis showed that only 12% of email campaigns sent over a 90 day period contained Google Analytics report tracking codes. That’s not a lot of email/analytics love.

On the Couch

So, before we try and get to the root of the email analytics relationship issues, let’s first look at what’s beautiful and flawed about them both in this context:

Email marketing, when done well, is targeted, pro-active and cost-effective. Serious email marketing software, like our own PureCampaign (OK, I’m biased) will show you exactly when and how your recipients interact with each email in great detail, and provide clever ways to help optimise content, positioning, subject lines and so on to get the best possible result for your efforts, and maximum clicks to your site.

But… once a recipient clicks through to your site, the email trace can end – and just when you’re within sight of the end result. To quote our interface developer (and Google Analytics report fan) Andy Parker: “The landing page and subsequent pages that form the latter stage of your campaign could have rotted boards.”

Google Analytics works great in tracking online marketing campaigns from multiple online sources through to goals based on your site visitors’ actions and journey. Each campaign can comprise multiple elements like banners, PPC ads, blog posts etc. and of course email marketing services.

But… Google Analytics URL builder can be fiddly and unintuitive to use wisely when it comes to email marketing – it needs to be generic enough to work for all your campaign elements after all.

Even with meaningful usage of Google’s available tracking parameters within an email, the data filters can be unwieldy, making a Google Analytics report that shows an email’s ROI complex and time-consuming to create. Email marketers can find themselves compiling reports in Excel, collating several datasets to get the info required to gauge an email campaigns’ performance. Ouch.

Email and Analytics – Hug it Out

We figured a healthy relationship between email marketing and Google Analytics would reap substantial rewards – namely a better understanding of how each email campaign performed, right through to end goals and ROI.

So we set our minds to a little relationship counselling for our own clients in the way we know best – with some clever software hocus-pocus in the form of full Google Analytics integration that takes seconds to set-up.

Mindful of the confusion that can surround Google’s own URL builder when used for email marketing, we made adding Google Analytics tracking to an HTML email literally a single-click process (does one click even count as a process!?)

To solve the time and complexity of creating reports that show what’s important, we pull together all the ‘good stuff’ from Google Analytics relating to that email marketing campaign, and show it all in one place, goals and all, right alongside the email report. My favourite customer quote on using it in our software or the first time was: “It’s like viewing my marketing results in widescreen”. Aww 🙂

Goodnight John-boy…

(Indulge me in one final family-unit analogy)

Tracking recipient actions through from your email to end goal(s) on your site will increase the value of your insights into its success. Whether you have a feature in your email marketing software that does the work for you, or still need to put in the keystrokes to get your email marketing and analytics on speaking terms, put some time and thought into the bond and they’ll get along just great. Just look at the Waltons…