Prepping the Attribution Funnel: Link Tagging >

In a recent blog post, we began to scratch the surface of the wealth of information available in Google Analytics. It may seem strange to focus so much on web behavior when email is our channel. But, most emails seek to do one thing: elicit that elusive click. And then what? Where does the subscriber go? What do they do? Developing a link tagging structure at the outset of a campaign is an incredibly important step toward answering those questions and ultimately assigning attribution to your email program. Without those tags you’re leaving ROI on the table for other channels to claim.


Following The Funnel

The ability to track a subscriber’s path once they leave the email hinges on appropriately tagging each campaign. This is not something that should be taken lightly or thrown in as an afterthought. Proper attribution requires forethought and planning in the early stages of the campaign development. The same amount of care that is given to crafting the perfect subject line and designing an engaging email should be applied to defining each element of the campaign in the tagging structure.

In Google Analytics, tracking is done through a UTM tag that is appended to each link in an email. At BrightWave, we have a template for determining the essential components that should be included in the UTM tag:

  • Website URL – The landing page you are linking to.
  • Source (utm_source) – Usually the ESP from which the email is deployed. This is especially useful if sending emails from multiple platforms.
  • Medium (utm_medium) – For email marketing purposes, this will always be “email” which is necessary for the tracking to be tied to the Email channel in Google Analytics
  • Campaign Name (utm_campaign) – Name of the campaign being mailed; this denotes the content and purpose of the mailing and also allows behavior observed in GA to be matched back to an exact campaign in the ESP.
  • Content (utm_content) – Optional; Used to differentiate content, such as in campaigns with multiple touchpoints (T1, T2)  or tests (vA,vB).


But Why Should I?

Failure to appropriately tag your links won’t affect the subscriber’s experience, but it will prevent you from tracking their post-click behavior. This behavior is an important part of understanding what is working in your campaign or overall program.  It can answer questions about barriers to conversion, provide insight into what drives customer behavior, and inform the content you prioritize in your emails.

This analysis can be taken a step further by creating goals within Google Analytics to track specific user interactions on your site.  These interactions can include form submission, content downloads, link clicks, or transactions. When GA observes the goal behavior it records a conversion that can be used to connect the behavior to a specific email. This is key in proving the value of any channel that drives web traffic. This goal measurement can directly provide insight into the success of a campaign by linking an order placed on the website directly to a click from an email. Goals can be as granular or high level as they need to be and ultimately help the bottom line of measuring performance.


Tags Provide Structure and Prove Value

Proving the value of an email requires deeper analysis than the usual opens and clicks. Determining S.M.A.R.T. goals with associated KPIs for each campaign at the outset of planning is crucial and should connect inbox performance to the ultimate business impact. A proper tagging structure allows you to tie these together to bring deeper, more meaningful analysis to each campaign and prove the value of the channel, the individual campaign, and your program as a whole.

In short, building a system of defined goals and corresponding tags for every touch you send allows you to see which emails are your biggest successes and what kind of engagement they generated. Opens and clicks can give you a glimpse into campaign results. But for a more meaningful look into your email’s impact, you’ll need to make advanced link tagging a top priority.

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