Email marketing is highly effective. Not only does it get your message out for less than almost any other method of outbound marketing, it also supports other forms of marketing. For example, a direct mail piece that is followed up by an email reminder will have 50% more responses than the same direct mail piece without the followup. That increase in response has a much lower price tag than a second direct marketing piece, so your ROI is significantly increased.
Still, you’ll want to track marketing results so you can tweak your campaign and improve your results. Here’s how:
Use your email campaign software.
Most email marketing services, such as iContact, Constant Contact, or Mail Chimp, will provide statistics that show how many people opened your email, how many clicked on a link in it, and how many chose to unsubscribe or to forward the email to someone else.
At right you can see a screenshot from iContact which shows the stats on a newsletter. While the interface for reporting this information will vary from one email service to another, they’ll be fairly similar. It’s easy to read these and easy to compare the results of one campaign with another for testing and tweaking your strategy. However, this data only tells you about the recipients’ interaction with the email. It doesn’t give you information about their behavior when they reach your website, so you won’t know from this whether your email is getting people to buy as well as to visit.
Use your Google Analytics.
You can see the general results of an email campaign in your analytics. Typically, the day you send out your email will show a spike in traffic, often triple the usual traffic or more, and you’ll continue to see higher traffic for a week or so afterward.
When you check your Traffic Sources report for Referral Traffic, you’ll see referring sites containing the word “mail,” such as “mail.yahoo.com” or “mail.comcast.net.” Search for referrals containing the word “mail” and you’ll see clicks through from your email.
However, it’s not unusual to see a rise in direct mail as well, as people who received your email decide later to visit your site. You may also see a rise in search traffic, as these people use search to find your site, or email recipients mention your email to friends who then search for you.
Can you accurately identify all the individuals who came to your site as a result of your email through Analytics? No. However, when you see predictable spikes in traffic following your email blasts, you should be able to make some useful estimates about the effectiveness of the campaigns.
Use Google’s URL Builder.
The URL Builder tool allows you to create a tagged link. Use this in your email, and your Google Analytics account will track that link separately so you can see exactly how many people reached your website by clicking on the link.
You can create a tagged link yourself, or you can create a special landing page for your email recipients and track that. However, the URL bvuilder makes it easy. You fill in a simple online form and the tool will automatically generate your tagged link. You use it in your email in place of your usual web address, and analytics will track it for you automatically. This makes it simple to set up goals and funnels using the link, and to capture visitors who use the link after the first spike in traffic has died away.
Which of these methods is best? Really, you’ll get the best results by using all three. Since each captures somewhat different information, combining the results of all three will give you the most complete and accurate picture.