Is there a better way to track email campaign conversions?

In ecommerce, sales conversions are one of the most important metrics to track. It tells you exactly what percentage of your site’s visitors make a purchase. And that is vital information.

There’s only one problem. A site-wide conversion rate, while useful, is not much use when you’re trying to understand which of your email campaigns is really driving results. To get around this problem, you naturally turn to Google Analytics (GA).

With proper tagging and usage of UTM parameters within links in your email campaigns, you’ll be able to see exactly what channels and which campaigns are converting and bringing in the most revenue. Great! Problem solved, right?

Kind of.

When using GA and most other analytics software, the way conversions work is by using tracking pixels, cookies or UTM parameters. I get an email from a merchant, I click a link in it and I make a purchase. Google sees that the purchase was made and that I arrived thanks to an email campaign and so it counts that conversion as coming from the campaign. Awesome.

Things get a little more complicated when customers are using multiple devices to view and make purchases.

Let’s say that I read your campaign email on a mobile device, clicked on a link and saw the product(s). It seemed interesting enough for me to consider buying. But just not at that very moment. When I get home I open up my laptop and go to your online store directly to buy the thing(s) that I was looking at previously. The campaigned worked, it made me buy. Goal achieved.

When you as the business owner open up ecommerce tracking in GA you’ll see my purchase along with others no problem. So far, so good. Things get a little complicated when you’re trying to figure out which of your email campaigns was the driving force behind the sale.

You see, although me making a purchase was only thanks to the email campaign I saw earlier, on GA it will be categorized as a sale coming from direct traffic. That’s because GA has no way to know that the previous session on a mobile device was also me and thus, is unable to track conversions across devices.

That’s a problem because it means that it’s almost impossible to get real, actionable data on the performance of various email campaigns when more than one device is used during the buying process. Thankfully there are other ways to track sales conversions and make the data a little more reliable.

How Klaviyo tracks conversions

Klaviyo gets around this tracking problem by using a combination of customer email addresses, tracking pixels and unique account identifiers to accurately track sales conversions.

By using a combination of trackers and a central place to feed that data into, Klaviyo is able to produce a chronological timeline of activity. This timeline is crucial as it makes it possible to correlate email opens, clicks and sales and then assess which marketing channel, if any, deserves credit,

Now, there are a few important things to note about this way of tracking sales conversions.

First, when deciding which email campaign gets the credit for the sale, the system uses a last touch attribution model. That means that only the last email that the customer opened or clicked on is credited with a conversion.

And secondly, to attribute sales correctly, Klaviyo uses something called an “email conversion period”  to determine attribution. In layman’s terms, this simply means how many days after you have sent out your email campaign should sales be attributed to that campaign if it’s opened or clicked on.

The conversion period starts when the email campaign is sent out and received by the recipient (doesn’t need to open it, just receive) and lasts until the conversion period runs out. The length of conversion period is up to you, but the default is five days. When five days have passed,  it will stop crediting that particular campaign for sales conversions.

This means that if I open the email campaign you sent to me on 1st May on the 6th (assuming the conversion period is 6 days), that campaign will not be attributed with the sale.

Another advantage to using this kind of more robust form of conversion tracking is that you don’t need to decide in advance which metric you want to focus on for conversion tracking. While most other platforms only track revenue conversions, Klaviyo automatically computes conversion analytics for all metrics in your account.

An ecommerce business will most likely focus on the number of purchases that occurred as a direct result of an email campaign as their primary metric. However, if you’re interested in how many people viewed at least one additional product or category page before checkout, you can easily view that conversion data as well. This will enable you to compare the impact of different campaigns across many different performance standards.

Final thoughts

It shouldn’t matter which device(s) your customers are using or whether they are using multiple devices when opening emails and looking at products. Merchants should be able to get accurate data regardless of the journey that customers took that finally lead to a sales conversion.

With traditional analytics, getting accurate and actually usable data that can correctly attribute channels responsible for conversions is almost always if not impossible, then at the very least extremely difficult. It doesn’t need to be. Do yourself a favor and use smarter and better email marketing software (like Klaviyo).

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