What your email and social media team needs to know about Google Analytics

What your email and social media team needs to know about Google Analytics

If you’re like most of us in email marketing, you spend a ton of time looking at your open, click and action rates. The two most common questions we get here at PowerThru are “did the email go out” and “how did the email do”?

But if you’re only looking at the email rates – or even email rates combined with CRM data like how many signatures or donations – you’re missing a bunch of the story. To get the whole picture (and really nifty charts and graphs like the ones below) you need to integrate your email and social marketing strategy with Google Analytics.

Odds are you already have a Google Analytics account installed (it’s that thing your web designer said you “had to have” and which you don’t look at very often). But most of our clients aren’t using their analytics tracking to full effect, and most email and social departments aren’t using analytics smartly, if at all, to drive the results they need to win campaigns. Here’s three smart ways (that only take a few minutes) to fix that.

Let’s get started, you brought the toolbox, right?

Odds are you’ve already got analytics code installed on your website, and more importantly your CRM pages like Salsa petitions, NationBuilder volunteer forms, or Convio donate pages. If not – you’ll need to set that up first. No tracking code, no data, and none of this is going to make any sense.

Don’t panic, adding analytics tracking to pages is as simple as copy and pasting a few lines of code. You can follow the step by step instructions from Google here, or give PowerThru a shout and get an estimate to update your CRM with tracking codes.

The important thing is that you want tracking on every page: If you’re emailing thousands of people a link to something – you need GA tracking on it. If you post on Facebook or tweet about new blog posts and press releases – that’s also a page you need to track. Analytics is going to tell you important stuff about where people come from, and what they do with the content you set in front of them. But it can’t tell you anything if you don’t have the tools installed (& installed correctly) on the relevant pages.

Bounce rates and time on site

Once all the pages are set up to be tracked, you’ll already be able to see a lot in your analytics account. For example even with no customization, you’ll see how many people visited your page and some key statistics like the bounce rate.

The bounce rate is really important for email and social media marketers because it tells you how many people did or did not take an action with your content – like sharing, signing a petition or making a donation. The Bounce rate is all the people who visited just that one page, and nothing else – meaning they “bounced” right off your action and didn’t engage.

Note that the aggregate bounce rate for your site won’t tell you much, since there’s a big difference in how we expect people to use the end-of-quarter donate form, vs the platform section where we lay out our vision. Use content drilldown reports to find the sections of your site you really want people to use and engage with – like almost anything on your CRM. You want the bounce rate in these sections to be as low as possible. Of course, not everybody donates or signs the petition, so check the M+R rates for your industry to get an idea of what an ‘acceptable’ bounce rate vs page complete rate is. For general purposes we suggest a bounce rate for petitions/letters to Congress type actions of less than 25%, but donate pages can have a bounce rate up to 90% and still be totally fine.

For content where reading or viewing is the whole point – say a press release, a blog post from your executive director, or video footage of your big event last weekend – bounce rate may not tell you much. Instead, we recommend looking at the time on site. Think about how long it will take a user to read the information you want them to consume, or what the length of the video you want them to watch is – and then look for an average time on site at least 50% as long as that – meaning that more than half the people are spending as much time as you want with your content.


Most of us in the digital campaign world are juggling several plates at once. By which I mean that we’re engaging supporters, raising money, and looking to add new supporters to our list on several different topics at once. For a candidate, that might look like work to engage Latino voters, women, and environmentalists with different types of messages at different times. For an environmental group it might look like having a different plan for the global warming campaign than you do for the clean water campaign. You can use variables (like “campaign”) with Google analytics to be able to track exactly what results go with which campaigns.

This idea of segmenting emails and social media by campaign isn’t new, but it’s still really important. If you need a refresher check out Laura’s how to or review this cool infographic from our favorite “does it work in lotus 7” testing service, Email on Acid.