The value of an email address if often overlooked, but even in this bright, shiny time of social media marketing, having permission to email someone is priceless.
In all of our training (even our social media training) we preach about the importance of your “owned” channels, generally your website – which should be the hub of your online presence – and your email database – where people have agreed to give you their email address in exchange for email updates from you.
While social media platforms are fantastic ways to regularly communicate with your community, it IS getting harder and harder to reach them organically… And this makes perfect sense, given how many millions of messages are being published each minute. There is only so much room in our feeds, so updates can move on before our followers have even had a chance to see them.
While some people get down-hearted by the average open rate of an email campaign being 30%, this is looking far more attractive than Facebook’s average organic reach…
So trying to grow your email database is ALWAYS a good idea (and of course ensuring you are sending them useful, relevant information…)
But what we are actually here to talk about today, is not how to grow your database, but how to track where your email subscribers come from, and how they engage with your website.
Like my website actions, being able to track activity such as email subscriptions through Google Analytics allows us to better understand the characteristics and patterns related to people who opt in to our email lists, allowing us to further refine our marketing activities.
For example, it could allow you to recognise that most of your email subscribers tend to come from Facebook. Which is great to confirm that sharing your subscription form on your Facebook Page actually works! Rather than guessing whether people subscribed after you shared it with a Call To Action to sign up.
Or you might find that people often subscribe after reading a blog post, which reinforces the value of regular blogging, and encourages you to add a clear subscribe form (or pop up or slide in) on each blog post.
And if you are running an online advertising campaign where gaining email subscribers is an important Conversion, then you want to be able to track that is occurring and attribute it back to the rightful source!
The technique we are going to use to track this conversion is one that can be used to track a range of website actions in Google Analytics, using the Destination Goal method.
I am focusing on email subscribers specifically in this instance, as I have worked through this recommendation specifically with a few coaching clients recently who saw the value of having this information conveniently and automatically measured.
How to track email subscriptions in Google Analytics
Now firstly, we are assuming you have a subscribe form available somewhere on your website, with either links on your website directly to the subscribe form, or a subscribe form embedded in a web page.
We are also using MailChimp as an example email marketing system, however, this approach can be used with most email marketing systems.
1. Create a custom thank you page on your website for your email subscription form
By default, when people generally subscribe, their data is sent to the database (tick!) and they are shown a success or thank you message on the screen where the subscribe form was, or they may be shown a default success or thank you page generated by the email marketing system.
What we want for this method, is to show them a custom thank you page that we create on our own website. You should be able to do this through your website’s content management system (CMS), or you may need to ask your developer for assistance, providing them with the content to include on the page.
I like to not only include the “thank you” message, but possibly a message about what they can expect, and a next step you can encourage them to take, that is relevant to your organisation and marketing, e.g.
Thank you for subscribing!
We look forward to sending you our monthly update, packed full of useful information to super-charge your digital marketing!
This page must have a unique URL, e.g. www.yourdomain.com/thanks-for-subscribing/
This page should not be accessible by any way other than the subscribe form, i.e. not included in your website’s navigation, and not indexed by search engines.
To prevent indexing, we recommend using the “no index” method (there is an option to set this if you use the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin) or by adding the page URL to your robots.txt (you might need to ask your developer about these points).
Keeping this page ONLY for email subscriber viewing will assist with the accuracy of your reporting.
2. Update your email subscription form to show subscribers the custom thank you page
Now you need to update your email subscription form to show subscribers your new custom thank you page, rather than the default.
These steps will vary slightly depending on your email marketing system, but the theory is the same. For MailChimp:
Navigate to the Audience section of your account
Under Manage Audience click Signup forms
Select your signup form from the Form builder
Select Confirmation thank you page from the drop down menu
And in the field shown below, add the full URL to your custom thank you page
And it is always recommended to test your integration to check that it works, by putting through a new subscription on the form, and confirming you are taken to the correct page.
3. Create a Destination Goal in Google Analytics
Now that your page is set up, your form is redirected to it, and you have checked that it is working, it is time to set up the tracking in Google Analytics.
Log into your Google Analytics account
Select the main reporting View that you want to create and track this Goal within (this may be the default All Web Data view)
Click on the Admin section (cog icon)
Under “View” click on Goals
And select to create a new Goal
In Goal setup select Custom (see screenshots below)
Give your Goal an intuitive name e.g. Email Subscriptions (this can be edited later)
Select Destination as the Goal Type
In Goal details add in the URL of your new custom page. For this type of page, you should be able to select “Equals to” from the drop menu, as the URL should always be exactly the same, and paste or type in EXACTLY what comes after your domain (as the Google Analytics is tracking your website, it assumes the page is on your domain).
If your email subscription form is embedded on a specific page, you can also add a Funnel which is a great way of confirming that people who viewed the custom thank you page, definitely saw (and completed) your form first. If unsure, you can leave this option.
It is also worthwhile using the option to Verify this Goal though keep in mind this will only provide a positive result if the new page and steps have been previously activated, e.g. through your testing. Otherwise, the result may be 0%.
Now you want to test your form again, while viewing your Real-Time Google Analytics reports, specifically the Conversions section. This is a great way to confirm that not only your custom thank you page is working, but that your new Destination Goal is also working.
And from the time that it is successfully working, you will begin to see useful information in the Conversions section of your Google Analytics reports!
This type of Destination Goal and process can be used to track other activities in Google Analytics, such as enquiry form submissions, so it’s worthwhile considering all of the important actions people can take on your website, the best way to track them, set them up, and then start better understanding your website visitors!
Erica is a Google Analytics and Google Ads certified professional, so you’re in qualified hands.
Erica has had over a decade of experience – working for agencies and a wide range of clients – in digital and social media marketing strategy, website development, search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing (SEM), content marketing, inbound marketing, online advertising and so much more.
A professional in the field of design, branding and marketing, she is a trusted name in the South Australian and online community to help an array of businesses sort out and achieve their marketing objectives.