How to Use Google Analytics for E-Commerce Email Marketing Tracking

How to Use Google Analytics for E-Commerce Email Tracking

I’ve been working in digital marketing for over 10 years and have learned all the ins-and-outs of tracking email marketing results for e-commerce companies. Today I’m going to share which metrics I look at to determine if an email was successful or not.

Key Metrics for Email Marketing

Whether you’re using a free platform like MailChimp or an enterprise-level platform like Pardot, you need to track the same key metrics:

  • Open rate: the percentage of people who open your email
  • Click-through rate (CTR): the percentage of people who click on a link in your email
  • Conversion rate: the percentage of people who go on to take the action you want
  • Revenue: the total amount of money made from an email

The email platform itself will tell you the open rate and CTR.

mailchimp email campaign example showing open and clicks

You’ll want to review these two numbers and consistently strive to achieve higher results.

Open Rate and CTR Benchmarks

The average open-rate across all industries is 32%. If you look at the open rates for your last three emails are you consistently achieving an open rate of 32% or higher?

If your open rate is lower you’ll want to work on improving it. The primary method for improving your open rate is to write better subject lines. A great subject line is one that creates a sense of urgency and conveys an interesting benefit to the recipient.

For example, let’s say you sell mobile phone cases and you are launching a new design.

Bad subject line:

New gold and marble phone case available

Better subject line:

Be the first to see new marble phone case – 10% off today only!

The first subject line is clear and concise, but if I’m not in the market for a new gold and marble phone case I might just delete it. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for me to open unless I really want that gold and marble case.

The second subject line encourages me to “be the first” which is always exciting. It’s human nature to want to be ground floor on something new and cool. Plus the “10% off today only” benefit creates a sense of urgency that I better look now so I don’t forget and miss out on potentially getting a discount.

Now I want to open the email even though I’m not necessarily in the market for a marble phone case.

Getting me to open the email is only the first part of the process though. Now you have to give me a reason to click. The average CTR across all industries is about 3.5%.

What was the CTR on your last three emails? Are your emails performing better or worse than the average? If you find that your CTR is below 3.5% here are some ways to improve your results.

Conversion Rate Benchmarks

Now let’s talk about conversion rate. If you’re not familiar with the term, conversion rate represents the percentage of people who take the desired action.

Let’s say you sent an email to 1,000 people asking them to buy your new phone case. If 100 people who received the email went on to purchase, you would have a conversion rate of 10%. That would be extraordinarily high considering the average conversion rate for emails is between 1 and 5%.

You cannot track the conversion rate of an email inside of the email platform, instead, you need to setup your email so that this information can be tracked inside of Google Analytics.

Luckily, it’s really easy to set up Google Analytics email tracking!

Setting Up Google Analytics Email Tracking

The easiest way to track your email marketing results in Google Analytics is by pulling a Source/Medium report. You can find this in the right-hand navigation under Acquisition.

When you pull this report you’ll see all the sources of your website traffic. You’ll probably see Google/Organic (which means people who search for you via Google), Direct (people who type your URL into their search bar) and many other sources.

If you’re sending emails one of these sources should be your email platform.

google analytics view of source/medium report

In this case, you can see the email platform I’m using is MailChimp, but it doesn’t matter if you’re using Constant Contact, HubSpot, Marketo or any other platform. You can track them all in Google Analytics and I’ll show you how.

In Mailchimp when you create a new email there is a section at the bottom of the setup page called Settings & Tracking.

Settings and tracking view in Mailchimp

You’ll want to click the edit button and then make some adjustments. First, you need to enable Google Analytics link tracking by checking the box next to it. When you do this, by default, MailChimp gives you a generic link tracking campaign name.

editing google analytics tracking in mailchimp

In the example above it calls the email campaign “email_campaign_2019_02_10_01_45.” You’ll want to change this to something meaningful to you. It can be whatever you want, but I prefer to use the date that I am planning to send the email.

For example, if I went to send an email on January 1, 2019 I would give the email the campaign name of 010119 aka 01-01-19 just without the dashes. You could leave the dashes if you want, or even call it Jan012019 or whatever you prefer. I’m going to use 010119.

editing google analytics campaign tracking in mailchimp

So I type in 010119 and hit save.

MailChimp will now automatically add “010119” to the end of every link in my email. That means when someone clicks a link in your email instead of going to YourWebsite.com they will go to: YourWebsite.com?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=010119

That will then be passed to Google Analytics so we can pull a report that shows how many people clicked the 010119 email and what they did once they got to the site:

view of mailchimp results in google analytics

If you are using an email platform other than Mailchimp you may need to manually build a campaign name into your link. Some platforms like Marketo will automatically add tracking, but you can also easily build your own trackable link using the Google Analytics URL Builder.

view of google URL builder tool

In the Google Analytics builder, you just put your website URL, your campaign source (aka your email platform name), the medium which is an email and your chosen campaign name. Then copy-and-paste that URL and use it in your email whenever you want to insert a link.

It’s really that simple!

Pulling an Email Marketing Report in Google Analytics

Once you send an email that includes link tracking you can now look in Google Analytics to see both the conversion rate, revenue generated (if applicable), and a few other interesting metrics.

In Google Analytics go to Acquisition > Source/Medium from the left-hand navigation and you’ll see all sources of traffic driving visitors to your site.

Then do these two additional steps:

  1. In the top right-hand search bar look for “mailchimp” or whatever you put as your “campaign source” in the Google URL builder. From there you should see your email traffic.
  2. Next you want to click into the drop-down called Secondary Dimension and choose “Campaign.” This will show you all of your email traffic broken down by Campaign name.view of google analytics report sorted by campaign UTM
    Here you can see I sent three emails: 010119, 010519, and 011119.

Being able to dig down to individual email campaign results is important so you know how each email performed.

I can see the email I sent on January 1st (010119) had a conversion rate of over 4% and generated $5,115.73 vs the email I sent on 010519 had a conversion rate of 1.92% and only generated $407.48 in revenue. That tells me, when possible, I should send more emails like the one I sent on January 1st!

When digging down into your own Google Analytics data, the most important metrics are conversion rate and revenue generated. However, the other metrics are good to keep an eye on too. Think of them as supporting metrics that tell you a bit about what  you should change to make improvements.

For example, bounce rate is the percentage of people who landed on your site and then left without going to a second page. If your bounce rate is super high then you’ll want to make changes to your site to make it more engaging so that people want to click-through or at least click-through to your checkout page!

Getting Started

Now that you know how to get started with Google analytics email tracking it’s time for you to put this information into practice!

If you’re new to Google Analytics consider working through the Analytics Academy course for beginners to get yourself familiar with the software and what all the metrics mean before you dive in fully. Also, bookmark this blog and come back for more helpful email marketing tutorials and tips!

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