How to Set Up Google Analytics Email Tracking: A Step-by-Step, No Holds Barred Guide for 2018!
Are you wondering how to set up Google Analytics Email tracking? Yearning to find a way to start tracking your email opens?
If you’re looking for a highly accurate way to keep track of who’s opening your emails, I’ve got the perfect set up for you.
You’re going to learn how to track emails and measure user interactions. And how to set up Google Analytics email tracking to see who opens our emails.
But be warned: it’s a complicated process. If you’re not technically advanced, this is going to be long and difficult.
You see, Google analytics tracking simply isn’t designed for this sort of tracking, and the tools we have to use are workarounds at best.
At the end, I’ll present a simpler, more user-friendly alternative that works just as well (if not better), but has almost zero setup time.
Step 1: Set up a Google Analytics account
Before we can get started with an email tracking system, let’s start with the basics.
You need to have a Google Analytics account in order to be able to initiate google analytics email tracking.
This isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Unlike most other Google products (like Gmail, Drive, or Google+), you don’t get one for free with a Google account.
I mean, you have the ability to use Google Analytics for free.
But to actually use it, you’ll need to confirm that you have access to your website. This is designed to keep hackers from using the program to track unsuspecting visitors to websites they don’t own.
Once it goes through, congratulations! You’ve succeeded in setting up your Google Analytics account, which is the first step towards learning how to use Google analytics email tracking and start tracking emails.
This will be the foundation for the system we’ll go about setting up.
When the page loads, the code sends information to Google about where the visitor came from, what he or she clicked on, and other demographic data like web browser and location.
So instead of using tracking code on a page, we’re going to tell the email client to fetch an image.
But surprise! It’s not a real image, it’s just a pixel that pings Google’s servers.
That ping will be registered with Google Analytics, and we can see when someone has requested the “image.”
That of course means they’ve opened our (super-sneaky) email.
Let’s go ahead and create that fake image now.
Step 2: Create a Google Analytics trackable URL
To get our fake image set up, we’re going to need to create a special URL.
It’ll be pieced together from requirements that Google Analytics has for how we structure our links.
We’ll build each section piece-by-piece. I’ll explain each part, and give a final version at the end you can use.
To start with, let’s link to Google Analytics. We need to include the domain name www.google-analytics.com as well as a simple phrase to let the system know we’re collecting data with this.
Now let’s add a few parameters. These specify different pieces of information about the URL. They’re like notes hidden inside the URL, and you’ve used them on thousands of websites for years. Now that you know, you can easily find parameters in URLs on sites like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
The default format of a parameter is &name=value, and we can stack them up next to each other.
If we were writing URLs for ice cream, we might write:
For this URL, we’re going to include these parameters. Many of them are unnecessary for our purposes, but are required since Google Analytics is meant for website tracking.
- tid = Your Google Analytics Tracking ID. You can find this in your Google analytics account.
Click on the Gear at the bottom.
Select Property Settings.
The tracking ID is at the top. Copy it exactly (including capitalization and hyphens).
- cid = Customer ID. We’ll use 555, which means we’re going to track this anonymously.
- t = Hit type. We’ll just call this “event.”
- ec = Event category. This is an email event, so we’ll call it “email.”
- ea = Event action. The action taken on the email is opening, so we’ll go with “open.”
- dp = Path of the tracked item. We’ll use /email/newsletter. We can’t use slashes though, so we’ll need to use %2 which stands for slashes in URLs.
- dt = Title of the tracked item. We’ll call it “My Newsletter.” But we can’t use spaces, so we’ll use the URL code for spaces—%20.
And that’s it!
Put together, the URL is:
To turn it into an image, we just enclose it in a basic HTML image tag, like this:
Step 3: Include your image tag in the email
Unfortunately, we can’t just drag this into an email. When we do, Gmail displays the HTML code as written.
We need to hack around this by creating an HTML file, then copying it into the email.
To do this, open up a new text document.
Past your image tag from earlier. I like to include a snippet of text (like “Hi!”) just so I know the page has loaded properly.
You’re going to save this as an HTML file.
Now, open it up in your browser. This should be the default setting, but if not just right-click and choose whatever program you use for the Internet.
Select everything and copy it (CNTL + C). Now paste that into your email. I’ve found it works best to use a program like Apple Mail than an in-browser site like Gmail.
Send it just as a test.
Now it’s time for the moment of truth—did the email open tracking work?
Step 4: Use Google Analytics email tracking
To get started with the email tracking side of things, open up Google Analytics again.
This time, we’re going to go to the realtime analytics page. This will tell us exactly how well our email tracking is going.
Test this by going to your email provider and clicking the link.
Now, chances are great that Gmail won’t open it. Gmail tries to prevent email tracking like this by saving a copy of the picture and storing it for itself.
This means that even if someone opens the email, it won’t register.
This is a system that works best with other mailing programs, like Apple Mail, Outlook, or ThunderBird (FireFox’s email cousin).
To track how many total opens your email has gotten, head to the Google Analytics campaign tracking.
This is where we can see if it’s performing. Go to real-time data. If you’ve fetched the invisible image, it’ll say so!
If so, congrats! You can now paste this text (in the same way we did earlier—with the copy-paste from the HTML file) into any email you want!
But I’ll be honest. This is a lot of work for a system that at best doesn’t work for Gmail, the #1 email client out there.
There’s a much easier and faster solution.
A simpler alternative to Google analytics tracking email: ContactMonkey
I get it.
If you’re a hacker type, the idea of figuring out how to track emails on your own through Google Analytics is tempting.
It was fun to learn about it myself to write this article!
But there are lots of things this system can’t do, like:
- Track email opens in Gmail
- Provide immediate alerts for email open tracking
- Specify who opened the email
- Specify how many times someone opened the same email
Plus, it makes a lot of other things difficult, like figuring out where someone is located, what software they used, and whether or not they clicked on links in your email.
It’s an email tracker that will provide all this functionality. Even better? It will do it all automatically.
There’s no need to create dummy HTML files and copy them over. Just click the Track Message and Track Links buttons.
ContactMonkey will alert you with live notifications if someone opens your email.
Even better, you’ll be able to see where that person was located and what browser he or she was using.
And, unlike Google Analytics Email Tracking, you just install the plugin and let us do the rest. ContactMonkey lives in your inbox.
The fundamental difference is that ContactMonkey will be able to tell you who opened your email.
Unlike Google Analytics, which will be triggered if you open your own email, ContactMonkey will only notify you if the recipient read what you sent.
In addition, you have the ability to get notified for link clicks, too.
This is hugely beneficial, especially if you send important pieces of web content in your communication.
You can see, for instance, if the company you’ve contacted click on the “work with me” page on your website. You can use that information for more effective follow-up.
ContactMonkey gives you advanced tools that allow you to create more meaningful personalizations with your email contacts and generate more leads and sales.
Yes, you can definitely track email opens with Google Analytics. But if you’re looking for a simple way to track your emails and see who is opening them, ContactMonkey is a more robust, simple, and insightful solution. So – what are you waiting for? Start tracking your email opens and link clicks!