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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