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Email Tracking Fundamentals

If some years ago, people still considered email tracking a luxury, it has now become the unquestionable norm. Previously in this series, we addressed why tracking of your internal newsletter campaigns is essential. This post is for the more curious-minded amongst you. In this brief addition to the series, we are going to explore how this tracking mechanism actually works.

Plan for Internal Newsletters in SharePoint

1. Why You Should be Sending Newsletters to Your Employees
2. How to Write an Internal Newsletter Your Employees Will Want to Read
3. 10 Topic Ideas to Help You Jumpstart your Internal Newsletter Campaign
4. Why Your Internal Newsletter Communications Should Be About Security, Too
5. How You Can Use Insights Into Your Internal Newsletter Campaign to Boost Results
6. How to Turn Your SharePoint into the Ultimate Engagement Platform
7. How Information Architecture Will Help You Automate Content Delivery
8. Responsive Email Templates, Why Do We Use Them?
9. Newsletter Metrics, Link Clicks and Opens, How They Work

Firstly, there are three essential elements you are tracking (and if you aren’t yet, you should really start now!). These are the three we are dealing with:

Newsletter metrics
Each of these is important in its own right, and they all use separate mechanisms for tracking. Furthermore, let’s look how the tracking mechanism for each one of this is put in place and works.

How Tracking Works for Email Sends/Receives

This is the least technical of the 3, and can be described best as an automatic calculus board (well, if analog metaphors work well for you that is). You see the total number of emails you sent out appear on your screen. When one of the email addresses that you were sending to was invalid, the email will bounce back to the server and will appear on your dashboard as not received. So, it can happen that you send out 1000 emails, but only 980 recipients receive them.

newsletter tracking
It is essential to find a mass email provider that lets you see which emails bounce. In this way, you can either contact the owner of the email address to update the contact details or delete it from your list so that you do not have to deal with clutter – which will cut down on your speed – when sending mass email campaigns.

How Email Tracking Works for Email Opens

There is one simple and effective way for email tracking that everyone sending mass email campaigns uses. In the communications that you send through providers like MailChimp, GetResponse, MailerLite, or our own JungleMail, a small invisible graphic is inserted in the bottom of the HTML body of your emails. In addition, this way of tracking is frequently referred to as “Web Beacon tracking”.

This tracker graphic is unique per email, recipient, and also campaign. When someone opens the email and views the images within it, the graphics are downloaded from the service, triggering the individual tracking mechanisms and registering this as an email open on your campaign report.

Automated replies, such as out-of-office messages, generally do not download this graphic, so they shouldn’t count as opens.)

A small side note: Web beacon trafficking may be the industry standard for the tracking of email opens, it does, however, have some limitations you should be aware of. Since this way of tracking relies on a hidden graphic embedded in your campaign code, open tracking won’t work in Plain-Text Campaigns. In a similar way, it will not work if your subscribers or their email client have chosen not to display images.

tracker graphic in newsletter

Keep this in mind, and you know to take your tracking results with a grain of salt. Alternatively, you could ask your subscribers to add you to their address book or choose to display images in their email client for the most accurate open tracking.

How Tracking Works for Link Clicks

You use a similar mechanism to track links that you insert into your email body. Most email providers will give you the option to select the links you would like to track. For each link you insert into your email body a unique sequence of numbers will be generated to form an extension to your given link. Once clicked, this will lead the email recipient to the desired page while taking him unnoticed by your tracking link.

You can easily track all link clicks in this way. And once recipients have clicked through and are on your website, you can track how much time they spend there, what things interest them, and what other links they go on to click. A feature extremely handy because it gives you great insight into your recipients’ behaviors and gives you the opportunity to serve them better.

Best Practices for Incorporating Tracking

Tracking is no rocket science. All solutions for tracking have already been written and are ready to use. All you have to do is find a provider that offers you the tracking mechanisms that suit your needs best. Mass email sending providers almost always offer tracking. But make sure they are offering exactly what you need!

Evaluating Email Tracking Results

Tracking and measuring your internal newsletter campaigns are essential parts of any well-thought-out IC strategy. I’ve written before about how you can use the results you gathered with tracking to boost your Internal Newsletter Campaigns, in a previous post in this series.

Here I want to add that it is a good idea to compare your open results to other data in your account. Think for example about activity on the intranet itself, so that you can learn even more about your subscribers’ behavior. Next, you can use open statistics to split your list, target certain people, and send follow-up emails, invitations or even challenges or quizzes. It is up to you!

To Sum Up

You cannot do without tracking. Tracking is essential to make any well thought out internal newsletter strategy reach its full potential. Now that you know how the different tracking options work, you should be able to make the most out of each one of them. Good luck and happy sending!

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