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Integrating e-mail and Web analytics

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When e-mail marketers talk about analytics, they are typically referencing e-mail metrics: opens, clicks and conversions. They're missing out, however, if they don't include web analytics under their marketing umbrella as well.

“E-mail marketers should be using web analytics to improve their business productivity,” said Blaine Mathieu, CMO at e-mail service provider Lyris. “It's not just changing your definition of analytics, either. It's taking a stand-alone tool and bringing it into the domain of the online marketer.”

Not surprising, because e-mail marketers aren't integrating web analytics as often as they could be, there's a lot of confusion over how to use the data. For example, few e-mail marketers realize that they can use their web analytics to choose the right paid search terms for straight e-mail lead generation. There are other strategies they can use, too. Mathieu points to one secret and one “lie” that can help any e-mail marketer produce better campaigns.

Secret: Web analytics can help marketers perform real-time A/B testing.

Historically, Mathieu said, A/B testing had two weaknesses. The first was a time lag. Because marketers had to wait until they got enough e-mail metrics to make a decision, they didn't really know which version of their message created more immediate results. The second was related to the metrics themselves. Marketers used “weak” metrics such as click-throughs or opens. When you marry e-mail metrics and web analytics, you gain a much better perspective of your A/B test, Mathieu said. “You're able to look at actual revenue or conversions--not just whether or not someone clicked through to a website.” Mathieu suggested marketers tag both the e-mail as well as the website so they can detect if an e-commerce event happed or a form was filled out. “This helps you get good data back immediately in order to make list decisions more rapidly,” he said.

Lie: You have to be an analytics expert to integrate web analytics with an e-mail marketing campaign.

At one point, this may have been true, but marketers no longer have to be technologists to integrate metrics. Tools have become easy to use—and much simpler to integrate—so users can take a wide view of their overall marketing efforts. Most ESPs now allow marketers to bring web analytics data right into the e-mail marketing dashboard. If an ESP's program doesn't have this ability, it might be worth shopping around a bit. Otherwise, marketers should be able to get up and running within a few hours. “Now, the real issue facing e-mail marketers isn't the challenge of using the tools, it's about breaking down silos and changing the definition of things,” Mathieu said.

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