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Track email open rates in GA

Use case

Review and optimize your email marketing efforts.

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1. Navigate to Admin > Account > Property in your Google Analytics dashboard. Under Property, select Tracking Info > Tracking Code to find your unique tracking ID.

You will use this tracking ID to establish a connection between your Google Analytics account and the external channel you want to track.

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2. Open the Google Analytics Hit Builder tool to begin creating a trackable pixel URL that you can add to any emails you intend to track to collect their statistical data in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics’s tracking system uses a JavaScript snippet, which will not load in emails. To work around this, creating a pixel URL is necessary because it uses an HTML code snippet instead. When you insert the pixel URL into your email, Google Analytics will identify it as an image that will ping the server when an email containing the pixel is opened. This is what allows Google Analytics to collect data through the tracking pixel.

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3. Navigate down the page in the Hit Builder tool to the Hit parameter details.

By default, you will see text fields available for the parameters v, t, tid, and cid, with the option to Add parameter to create new customizable fields. These are the measurement protocol parameters we will be setting up:

  • v — protocol version
  • — hit type
  • tid — tracking ID
  • cid — client ID
  • aip — anonymize IP
  • ec — event category
  • ea — event action
  • dp — document path
  • dt  — document title.
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4. Populate the existing fields. Leave v set as 1, click on the drop-down for the t field and select event. Enter your Google Analytics tracking ID in the tid field, and enter 555 in the cid field.

The Client ID or cid value of 555 is the anonymous client ID for GA. This value must be set as anonymous because collecting identifiable data such as an email address or name using the Measurement Protocol feature in Google Analytics, would violate their User ID policy.

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5. Use the Add parameter button to add five additional fields. Type each new parameter into its own text field on the left column, and then type each corresponding value into the main text fields next to their parameters.

Populate your new text fields as follows:

  1. Enter aip in the left text field. In the adjacent field, enter 1 as the value.
  2. Enter ec in the left text field. In the adjacent field, enter email as the value.
  3. Enter ea in the left text field. In the adjacent field, enter open as the value.
  4. Enter dp in the left text field. In the adjacent field, name your document path; this should be unique for each email campaign tracking pixel. Don’t forget to include the backslashes ( / ) here. For example: /email/newsletter/1.
  5. Enter dt in the left text field. In the adjacent field, create a document title. For example: monthly newsletter.
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6. Scroll back up to the Hit summary section of the page. You will see that the information you added in the text fields below have been formatted into HTML in the Hit payload box.

For the example above, the generated hit payload will look like this:

v=1&t=event&tid=UA-1234567-8&cid=555&aip=1&ec=email&ea=open&dp=%2Femail%2Fnewsletter%2F1&dt=monthly%20newsletter
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7. Click the Validate hit button to test the hit, and then select the option to Send hit to Google Analytics. This will take you directly to the Real Time view in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Alternatively, you can choose Copy hit payload if you would like to manually input it into a test email. To complete the tracking pixel manually, you need to add the basic structure of the URL to the hit payload you generated, and format it into HTML.

  1. Start with the beginning of the URL: https://www.google-analytics.com/collect?
  2. Paste the hit payload directly after the (?) in the URL above, with no space between them: https://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=event&tid=UA-1234567-8&cid=555&aip=1&ec=email&ea=open&dp=%2Femail%2Fnewsletter%2F1&dt=monthly%20newsletter
  3. Format the URL into an HTML image tag:
<img src="https://www.google-analytics.com/collect?v=1&t=event&tid=UA-1234567-8&cid=555&aip=1&ec=email&ea=open&dp=%2Femail%2Fnewsletter%2F1&dt=monthly%20newsletter">
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8. Enter your tracking pixel into a test email and send it. Navigate to the Real-Time view in your Google Analytics dashboard to see if the tracking pixel is working.

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9. Use this tracking pixel method to track the email open rates for each campaign directly in your Google Analytics dashboard. Use the data you collect to test and adjust different email marketing tactics to optimize your strategy.

For example, if your most recent email campaign resulted in a significantly lower open rate than previous campaigns, you can take the opportunity to examine what might have caused the drop in open rate. Consider adjusting your methods when it comes to writing a more compelling subject line or changing the time of day you send out your next email blast.

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Current Playbook:

Track email open rates in GA

Sep 19, 2021

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