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How to track email campaign in Google Analytics

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How to track email campaign in Google Analytics

When you start sending email campaigns, what kind of result do you run for? Maybe you want to monitor who receives and reads your message… or want to track clicks, sales, and conversions generated by newsletter?

You will be able to choose the email marketing metrics to track after you decide what your main goal is. Open rate, click through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, complaint rate, unsubscribe rate, spam rate, − there are lots of metrics to choose.

So, while you think about goals and choose the metrics, we are going to tell you about the most popular service for monitoring and tracking email campaigns − Google Analytics (GA).

Google Analytics can provide you with a range of specialized tools for tracking to analyze email campaign profit and performance results.

Here we want to tell you about the step by step email tracking using GA. Frankly speaking, it is technically a bit more difficult than just writing email content, so it will probably take more of your time and effort to get things in order and learn how it works.

Step 1. Sign in and Create a Google Analytics Account

Unlike lots of Google free services (Gmail, Hangouts, etc.) you don’t get automatic access to GA. Be ready to confirm that you are a website owner and has access to it. These are protective measures from hackers.

As Google Analytics is a web-based service, thus you should register and create personal GA account.

After that, you’ll get access to monitoring and reporting tools, and see how the subscribers interact with your site after reading your branded mass mailings.

Your account will contain monitoring data on each email campaign you send.

Step 2. Add the Email Tracking Code

Google Analytics service works with JavaScript code to track the website visitors actions. The webpage loads and the code starts working. It starts sending information about the user:

  • where he came from,
  • what buttons and links he clicked,
  • what type of web-browser he used, and others.

But email clients do not load JavaScript when opening the email. The solution is to add special parameters to URLs in your email message.

UTM parameters for Google Analytics

When a user clicks the marked link and goes to a web-page, the information about his/her behavior and actions is stored in your Google Analytics account. As a result, you will be able to see clicks, conversions and conversion rates for each email campaign.

This means that you need to add specific UTM parameters for Google Analytics email tracking. After that campaign URL will be followed with variables and the link syntax will appear like this:

Don’t worry, there is no need to learn and add these variables by yourself. Usually, both online bulk mail services and desktop programs have integration tools to make your life easy.

For example, have a look at Atomic Mail Sender:

Use Google Analytics tracking in Atomic Mail Sender

Choose the “Google Analytics” in the Service menu and check the box to enable tracking.

Here you find the required UTM parameter (marked with *) – Campaign Name. It is used to identify the campaign among others and find the information about it in your GA account.
As for the two other UTM parameters, they are not required:

  • “Campaign Term” — the keywords of the marketing campaign. For example, “sport shoes”.
  • “Campaign Content” — is used to differentiate between ads or links that point to the same URL. For example, logo-link or text-link.

You can see the final link syntax only after testing the campaign because parameters are added to the letter when sending a message.

Have a look at the screenshot above. The final URL will be the following: utm_campaign=big-summer-sale-2019

However, you can use the Google Campaigns URL Builder to add campaign parameters to the link and copy/paste such URL to the email.

The important notes to remember:

  • Google Analytics does not track redirects that have no embedded GA code. It’s better to use direct links with UTM parameters.
  • Do not include special characters in the campaign name or other parameters. These can break URLs and you won’t get any tracking data.
  • Always test your bulk campaigns that use Google Analytics email tracking. Make sure all the links are correct and work properly.
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Step 3. Monitor and Analyze the Email Campaign Results in GA Account

Go to your Google Analytics account.

If you have multiple accounts, then navigate to your view.

Open the menu, then select Acquisitions > All Traffic > and find the necessary campaign by the “Source/Medium” parameter.

Google Analytics campaign statistics


Open Rate Tracking for Hardworking Person

This is very cool, you say. Nevertheless, what if you send emails via email client and use no additional tools like software or service. How to track whether the subscriber opened newsletter?
In this case, you can use an email tracking pixel, a kind of image with embedded Google Analytics tracking code.

Email Tracking Pixel


Email Tracking Pixel Example

How does email tracking pixel work?

When a subscriber opens the email he received, the email content is loading and the image is also requested to load. Google server pings this action and tracks the opening, keeping the information about open rate email marketing metric into GA account.

How to create email tracking image?

We are going to operate with specific parameters as Google Analytics service required.

The basic URL structure is
where is the link to GA server and collect?v=1 means that we are going to collect data using this link.

The required parameters are interlinked with “&” sign. They are the following:

  • tid = your personal Google Analytics tracking ID
  • cid = customer (subscriber) ID
  • t = hit type event
  • ec = event category, it’s an email for our bulk campaign
  • ea = event action, the action we are going to monitor; its open for our campaign
  • cs = campaign source
  • cm = campaign medium
  • cn = campaign name
  • dp = directory path, it’s the path to the pixel (image). Use “%2” instead of “/” in URL (%2Femail%2Fnewsletter)
  • dt = directory title, it’s the title of the tracked item. Use “%20” instead of space in URL (my%20newsletter)
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Add these parameters to the basic URL and get the following link: &cs=newsletter&cm=email&cn=big-summer-sale-2019&dp=%2Femail%2Fnewsletter&dt=my%20newsletter

However, it’s a link, not a tracking pixel. Now use the HTML image tag to turn it into the image:

‹img src=“ &cs=newsletter&cm=email&cn=big-summer-sale-2019&dp=%2Femail%2Fnewsletter&dt=My%20Newsletter”›

Note: to add this code into your email you should create the newsletter in HTML mode. Use the Notepad, for example, write the text, add image code and choose the html extension to save the file.

HTML email with tracking pixel

Open the saved document in the browser window, copy loaded content and paste it in the email client message field. Test newsletter before bulk mailings.

How to monitor the results?

Log in your Google Analytics account, go to Reports > Real-Time > Events section. If the open tracking succeeds, there will be an entry under Event Category.

Google Analytics metrics - Event

What is the alternative to such a time-consuming task?

If you’re looking for a simple way to track your emails and see who opens them, have a glance at Atomic Email Tracker, a web-based service for tracking sent email messages. It works similar to the email tracking pixel principle. Even more, Email Tracker gathers the extended statistics about email opens, click-throughs, pages visited, subscribers location, devices, etc.

And what’s the main, no specific technical knowledge or additional efforts are required!

Email marketing tracking can be easy and effective. Keep in mind your email marketing main goal, take a decision about the most important metrics and choose the best way for monitoring and tracking bulk mail campaigns.

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Written by: Daria Ivanishina