Interpreting Email Analytics is Handwavy

What you can do when you actually collect email data

Smallest piledriver I’ve ever seen in person, Seattle (Photo: Randy Au)

Email tracking data has interpretation issues

The problem with email analytics is the lack of detailed visibility into what is going on at the user’s end by virtue of the email client being completely divorced from our analytics systems. While we have the tools to collect quite a bit of data, the extent of the conclusions we draw from the data need to be carefully considered.

Email Sharing

As mentioned previously, the sharing of links and emails will always be a ghost that hangs over all your data. You’ll just have to accept that it happens.

Link Sharing

On the bright side, a link being shared is something that could happen with any link on the internet, not just your email link, so you’re not at any particular disadvantage with respect to web analytics. That said, shared links could also present interesting challenges.

When the original links are preserved

When the original link redirects are preserved, it means that any click will trigger all the tracking mechanisms that are attached to the links. So if your links were set to identify who the email recipient was to identify who clicked, any shared clicks will register as that person now. (Security concerns, yay!)

When original links/redirects are not preserved

This is probably the more common link sharing case because it matches typical human workflows. People will click on a link in the email, their browser goes through any redirects built into your link and triggering all your standard click analytics, then they copy the URL out of the browser after they arrive at the landing page.

Making sense of all of this stuff

Now that we’ve gone on a detour to show how you can use clever tricks to squeeze data out of shared links, we can get back into the analysis.

I stress about data quality a lot. Data nerd/scientist, camera junkie. Quant UXR @Google Cloud. Formerly @bitly, @Meetup, @primarydotcom. Opinions are my own.

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