Oct 28, 2015

Track Email Links in Google Analytics

One of the big bugbears of webmasters trying to make sense of who’s visiting their site is when the source appears to be Direct. Effectively, this is Google’s way of saying “I don’t know where these people came from.” There are many different theories about why this has become such a problem recently, and what’s causing it, but one thing we KNOW causes direct traffic – email links. 

Direct traffic

Whether this is links within email newsletters, or links from signatures (e.g. if you have a banner in your email signature that leads back to your website), or just within text that you’re sending out to your clients and customers – all these visits appear as Direct traffic, unless you’ve put in measures to clarify your Analytics data.

The number one trick for tracking email links is to use Google’s own URL builder. With this, you can add some parameters to the link that you’re sending out which will enable Google Analytics to receive the information that you’ve added.

Before you start, you need to have a few things handy – the URL (link) that you want to send; a campaign source (e.g. ‘november-news’, ‘clients-nov-2015’ – just something you want to call the ‘campaign’; a campaign medium (for email campaigns, the medium will always be ‘email’); and a campaign name, which you use to differentiate one link from another (e.g. ‘pink-banner’).

It seems confusing that we’re essentially saying to put the Campaign Name in the Source section, but if you consider that you’re sending out a newsletter, for example, you need to use the source to group all your links together (under ‘november-news’) and the campaign name is to show the different links or articles within that newsletter (‘ecommerce-improvements’, ‘development-updates’, etc).

Step 1.    Go to the URL Builder Form here https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en

Step 2.    Fill out the fields as follows (you can ignore the other fields for now):
a)    Website URL: http://www.yourlink.com.au
b)    Campaign Source: Campaign Name
c)    Campaign Medium: Email
d)    Campaign Name: Product, Image Type or other Differentiator

URL Builder Form

Step 3.    Click Generate URL

If you aren’t hyperlinking these links (that is, turning a particular set of words within your email into a link), it’s best if you shorten them so that a user doesn’t need to read the interior workings of your linking.

Instead of this: 

It reads this: 

Then, when you start getting clicks on your email links that go through to your website, your Google Analytics data will show a new medium called ‘Email’. If you dive further into that, you’ll be able to see the different campaigns within the Email source, and then further again, and you’ll see which articles or products were clicked on the most.

How to see your sources

Go to Acquisition > Campaigns

You’ll see a list of all the products or articles that you included in your campaign.

Go to Acquisition > Campaigns

If you click on Source (in Primary Dimensions, up the top), you’ll see that it shows the campaign name that you decided for the ‘overall’ campaign.

Click on Source

And if you click on Medium, it will show the ‘email’ parameter as designated earlier.

Click on Medium

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