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Identifying what individual email readers do next

Yesterday I mentioned tagging links in emails so that you can see the response in your website visitor analytics application. One subsequent question was: “can we tag the links so that they’re identifiable?” In other words, “can we see which email readers clicked through to the website, and what they did?”

The answer is a tentative yes, as I understand it. The only warning is that if you’re using Google Analytics, for example, the reader must not be obviously identifiable within the analytics application. A reference number is fine though.

So, if you’ve read yesterday’s article, and the how-to guide to which it referred, you may end up with a link which shows that the visit was from a type of newsletter (the “source”), that it was an email (the “medium”), and which issue of the newsletter it was from (the “campaign”). However, there are two other optional parameters available (“term” and “content”), and these could be hijacked to include a reader identifier, by mailmerging in an ID code for each reader. What Google Analytics’ Ts & Cs doesn’t allow is for you to include something like their name or email address.

If you’re using an external email distribution service, they probably provide some integration with Google Analytics already. It might be worth investigating if a unique reader identification option is available.

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