One of the most popular questions we hear all the time about email marketing is how to prove its value. We’ve talked in the past about multichannel funnels (which is a great overview), but very often and understandably so, you just want a quick snapshot to see how email is working for you right now in concrete terms. Google Analytics and WhatCounts have come to your rescue!
This dashboard setup is predicated on several assumptions. First, we will assume that you have goals and goal values set up and working as intended in Google Analytics. (obviously, we also assume that you’re using Google Analytics) If you don’t, you’ll want to read this post for making that determination.
Second, we will assume that your email drives visitors back to your website for the purposes of making some form of online conversion that has value. If your email serves a different purpose (such as providing coupons for offline use), then this dashboard will not be as useful to you.
Third and most important, we will assume that your email is RTTV: relevant, timely, targeted, and valuable content. If it’s not, no amount of analytics will help you realize the value of an email marketing program. Focus instead on creating awesome content first.
Fourth and finally, we will assume you are using WhatCounts SaaS or Publicaster to send your emails and have Google Analytics enabled on your account. If you’re not a WhatCounts customer, you’ll need to get your email service provider’s Google Analytics tracking information. If your email service provider doesn’t offer Google Analytics integration… well, our contact form is right over here.
You’ll want to make sure you’re using the newest version of Google Analytics. If you are, your left hand navigation menu should look like this on your account:
Choose Dashboards, then create new Dashboard. Name it something obvious; we called ours the WC Email Dashboard and chose a blank canvas.
What To Measure: Visitors from Email
Next, let’s think about what we want to measure on a dashboard. While we can’t track subscribers directly in Google Analytics, we can see how many people came to the website from email, what they did on site, and what goals were completed, so let’s use that as the basis for our dashboard. If you have other in-tool metrics that are important to you, obviously add them as well to the list of things you want to track.
Click Add Widget. Let’s start with the basics: how many people came to the website from email? Let’s select Metric, choose Unique Visitors, and add a filter by Source that matches WhatCountsEmail, the Google Analytics source for WhatCounts customers. WhatCounts Publicaster users should put Publicaster in this field instead. If you’re not a WhatCounts customer (why not?), use the tag that your email service provider gave you for Google Analytics tracking.
Name it something useful and hit save. Congratulations, you’ve got your first widget! You’ll want to do this again using the Timeline tab for the exact same setup in order to get a nice, large graph.
This shows us how many visitors came from email in a nice, compact fashion.
What To Measure: Content Visited from Email
Next, let’s start a second column of metrics. You can move widgets around by clicking and dragging them. Click Add Widget, then choose Table.
Here you see we’re choosing Page as the dimension, Unique Visitors as the metric. We’re setting a filter to include our email tag, and in this case that’s unique to WhatCounts, we’re excluding our popup. If you use a popup, you’ll want to exclude it as well so that you can see just the content pages.
This shows us what pages on our site were most popular for our email audience.
What To Measure: Goals Completed from Email
Let’s start a third and final column of metrics and focus on business generated from email. Click Add Widget and create a new metric.
Configure it for Goal Completions, restricted by source and your email tag. This will tell you how many goals were completed that were driven by the email.
Next, create a second metric widget using Goal Value and your email tag:
In this metric, we are measuring the estimated business value generated by our email program, based on what a goal completion is worth.
Finally, create a third metric widget using the Pie Chart. Set it to show goal completions by source. Do not add a filter:
This will show us the top 6 revenue generating sources of traffic. If your email program is performing well, ideally it will show up in the top 6.
The Finished Dashboard
If you’ve followed these directions and built out your widgets, your final dashboard, after dragging them around and arranging them, should look something like this:
We can see our email program’s effectiveness in generating the results we’re after in one compact, tight screen, highlighting the most important pieces of data. If you’re looking to demonstrate your email marketing ROI to your executives or board of directors, or you just want a way to see how things are working very quickly, this dashboard should fit your needs. By constructing this sort of dashboard, you no longer need to hunt down data out of half a dozen different reports. It’s all in one location, ready for you and your team to quickly digest.
We hope this dashboard is helpful and useful to you. If you’ve got suggestions or improvements, please tell us how to make it better in the comments.
Christopher S. Penn