4 Steps to Extended Email Campaign Tracking & Actionable Insights

Did you ever run an email campaign? If yes, after reading this blog post you will fall in love with your email marketing.
As a marketer, I had issues monitoring email campaign performance & getting actionable insights out of the email tracking to improve the campaign effectiveness. Our technical team took up this challenge and worked around a superb solution to track end-to-end email campaigns.

Let me explain how!

Boohoo…Let’s roll!

Below I have included some pre-requisites for you to understand the idea better. If you think you know this, jump to step 1 and get started!

We’ll use the below ingredients to cook this email campaign tracking:

• Measurement Protocol: Measurement Protocol is at the heart of Google Analytics which is used to send data from client to GA server for processing. Google has provided a good explanation on measurement protocol mechanism which you can read here.

• _ga cookie : _ga is the cookie which is stored on each of the devices (desktop + mobile) by analytics.js code for tracking and sending Google Analytics hits. (Basic, isn’t it?) Have a look at the cookie in my browser:


• Value of _ga cookie: You’ll need to store client ID (For example in above case 270570783.1460978738) in your CRM against an email ID (e.g. xyz@abc.com).

Below is how we achieve email tracking on each step (sent-opened-clicked) of an email campaign.

Step 1:  Send Email to X email ID

Whenever you send an email, you’ll need to send a Google Analytics non-interactive page view/event hit to notify that we’ve sent an email to a user. To do this, place an image tag with a GA event call URL (explained below) to trigger a GA hit.  Add it to the bottom of the email so it does not delay loading the email’s main content.

Make sure that “ni” parameter is NOT set to 1, if you want to consider email open as a session in Google Analytics.

<img src=”https://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&…”/>

Here’s the Sample hit!

https://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=pageview&tid=UA-XXXXX- YY&cid=*|clientID|*&dp=%2Femailsent&cd1=offers_emailer&cm1=1&cs=tatvic&cm=email&ni=1

Looks like an alien? This is how Google Analytics sends data to servers.

Let’s breakdown this hit and understand each step in detail:

Hit Breakup

What it Means?


Google Analytics server end-point where the data will be collected


Version of Measurement Protocol we’re using which defaults to 1 for now


a pageview will be seen in all the pages report


Property-ID where data will be sent


from _ga cookie


Page path for this pageview


Email campaign name – stored in a custom dimension with index


Email Sent Count – stored in a custom metric with index 1


Campaign Source to be put for all the users starting session via Email Campaign


Non-interaction means we’re not going to register a session with this hit in GA. Because we’re not yet sure, whether a user has opened the email or not.

Step 2: User Opens the Email

Whenever a user opens the email, the image tag loads the image pixel and in turn triggers a GA call. With this call, we can find out the number of emails opens that have happened by counting these events.

Step 3: User clicks on the Email links

Isn’t this a good news? Someone really clicked on my email! Let me tell you, most email campaigns that we’ve ran for our clients never had a conversion rate > 5%. So, be happy if you’re getting some clicks on your emails.

Now the tracking is pretty simple, as the user is going to reach on your website’s landing page; tagging the email links using utm_source, utm_medium, utm_campaign parameters will do the trick here.

Here’s a Sample tagged URL:


You’ll be able to create this URL using a URL builder for the website URL tagging.

Step 4: Checking Your Google Analytics Data

Time to check data in Google Analytics!

Here’s a sample data which we have received by using events instead of page views:

Google analytics report

Let me share with you a sample dashboard that we were able to put together from the data in Google Analytics & Mandrill (Mail Chimp) for one of our clients.

The dashboard screen below provides end-to-end funnel with drop-out rate for each of our email campaigns.

Here you go!

Email Funnel Dashboard

Isn’t this great ? Now, you know where to optimize.

There are some actionable items at each stage of the email marketing campaign funnel:

  • If email open rate is a problem,
    • Experiment with different subject lines
    • Try using personalized subject lines like using first name/last name
    • Make sure it is not going to the spam folder due to lot of promotional images
  • If email click rate is a problem,

    • May be offers you’ve provided are not attractive

    • Content don’t match with subject line and what users are expecting
    • Use attractive CTAs to make them click
  • If users click but don’t convert,

    • Blame your UI team for this
    • Check that you’re sending emails to the right audience
    • Use GA to analyze where the user dropped? & if possible why ?

Have you ever acted on the email tracking data? If yes, let us know your experiences in comments section below. We would love to hear from you.

If you want us to help you with your email marketing campaigns, feel free to reach out to us by dropping us a comment in the section below. We will be glad to assist you!!

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