How do you know if your 'keep-in-touch' and marketing emails are successful (even if you use Xplan)?

So you've just sent out an email newsletter to your clients. Maybe it's via MailChimp or a CRM like Xplan. Awesome! It's a great way to stay in touch and provide value to both existing clients and future ones. But how do you know if your email was successful?



How you define success for your emails, depends upon their purpose. At the very simplest level, you want people to open and read them, and it may not go beyond that.

But there will be times when you want people to click on a link, and then watch, read, subscribe or interact in some way.

If you use email marketing software such as MailChimp, you will know that it is easy to see how many people (and who), opened your emails and clicked on the links.

Beyond that, you don't know a whole lot.

And if you use Xplan, you're pretty much flying blind.

  • How many people visited your website as a result of your email?

  • How long did they stick around?

  • What pages did they visit?

  • Did they do what you wanted them to do while they were there?

Without knowing this information, how will you know whether your emails are successful?

The cool thing is, with a bit of help from some free Google tools, you can find out those answers pretty easily.

The (free) tools you need

There are two Google tools you will need.

1. Google Analytics

Before you get started, Google Analytics will need to be installed on your website.

It is a free tool that allows you to see what your website visitors are doing, where they are coming from, and all kinds of useful information to help you understand whether your website is effective or not.

If you don't have Google Analytics installed, ask your web developer to help you out or have a go yourself. It is a 10-15 min job for a basic one-off set up (but it can get complicated if you start using the advanced functionality).

2. Google URL Builder

Google URL builder is a free tool that helps you create customised links.

So, instead of using a link like this:

You would use a link like this:

The beauty of a customised link, is that it lets you track the results of the click — which you can then see in Google Analytics.

Create a custom link

  1. To create a custom link, go to the Google URL builder.

  2. Enter the URL of the link you want to track e.g.

  3. Enter the Campaign Source. This is where the clicks are coming from. e.g. Sept-2014-newsletter

  4. Enter the Campaign Medium. This is broader, and describes the source more generally. e.g. enews

  5. Enter the Campaign Name. This is the most specific, and describes more about the specific link. e.g. sal-sac-tax (which is a short version of the blog post we are linking to)

  6. Click Submit and you'll get a custom URL to use as your link. e.g.

Google URL builder - example entries

You will see a couple of other options, but unless you are tracking paid advertising, they are not really required.

Add the link into your email newsletter

You now have a fancy link to use in your email newsletter, but you don't need to display that big long URL.

Using Xplan as an example, when you create the link in your email, just click the little chain icon and enter your new Google URL builder link. Too easy!

Xplan link icon

You can also do something similar in MailChimp, even if you are using the free plan.

By default, you can track a MailChimp campaign by entering details on the Set-up page under Tracking.

Mailchimp Analytics code

However you can also track specific links by using your fancy Google URL within the body of the email.

View the results

Once your email has been sent, it's time to see how it's performing.

Jump into Google Analytics, and head down to Acquisitions > Campaigns. You will see the name of your campaign (from Step 5 above), and the statistics around it's performance.

You can see:

  • Sessions: This is how many times people visited the page from the link

  • Users: Whether they were new visitors (or not)

  • Bounce rate: The percentage of people that viewed just a single page

  • Pages / session: How many pages the reader visited after they clicked on your link

  • Average session duration: How long the visitor stayed on your site

  • Goals: Tracks specific events you are focused on monitoring. For example, I track how many people visit my Contact page, because it is an indication as to whether people are interested in taking the next step and working with me. I also track subscribers via how many people visit my "thank you" page, which is only visible after they subscribe.

You can also drill down into the statistics further, and see trends by campaign type and source.

Use it to give you an insight into what's working and what's not.

What to do with the information

Of course there's no point tracking all this information if you don't do anything with it.

You can use it to:

  • Guide what style and type of content resonates with your clients, and what doesn't (although Google Analytics on its own will help you with this)

  • See whether people tend to click more on links that appear at the top of your email newsletters, rather than the bottom (and adjust your email newsletters according to the results)

  • See whether clickable images work better than plain clickable links

  • Track whether your "call to action" links in emails and your website are producing the results you are after

Where else to use custom URLs

Email newsletters aren't the only way you can use the Google URL builder.

Here are some other ideas for using custom links so you can track performance:

  • Customise the link to your website that you use in your LinkedIn profile

  • Customise any links in documents such as SoAs (Statement of Advice) e.g. How many people actually click through to your supplementary information on superannuation or estate planning that you mention in your SoA? If the answer is "not many", what does this tell you?

  • Customise the link in your email signature to see how many people are clicking through to your website

Remember, the ultimate aim is not the statistics themselves. It's about finding out what's working and what's not. And then adjusting what you're doing to get even better results next time.