By now you'll have realized that tracking the success of your calls to action (and your email marketing at large) is fundamental to the long-term success of your marketing campaigns. One important part of that is after-the-click tracking, but bear with me while I shortly explain open and click tracking.

Have you ever wondered how your email marketing software - like Mailchimp, Drip, etc. - tracks opens and clicks?

Open and click tracking explained

For open rate tracking they include a small, hidden image consisting of a single pixel - often called a tracking pixel. That image has a unique ID and when a reader's email client loads the image from the server they register that as an email open.

For click tracking they replace the link in your email with a unique link pointing to their own server. When your reader clicks on that link the server registers the click and redirects the reader to the URL you put in the email.

The problem with open tracking

Open tracking has one problem: Some email clients block the tracking pixels (or all images) and that skews your open rate.

According to Mike Taber of an average of 11.3 percent of all email users block tracking pixels and don't count towards your open rate.

Depending on your list that percentage can vary. For example, if you have a list of developers or crypto security specialists that number is going to be MUCH higher.

There is nothing you can do about it. Just keep in mind that your open rate is higher than your email marketing service reports.

Here are Mike's thoughts on open rates:

It's easy to get hung up on trying to make sure that all of your email analytics are completely accurate but some things are completely out of your hands. For example, 10-20% of all people on the internet block images from loading and that includes tracking pixels that may be included in the emails you send.

The most important thing to remember is that open rates don't matter as much as the action taken by people who receive your emails. I've seen situations where over 60% of the people responding to emails are blocking the tracking pixels associated with those emails. This renders open rates nearly useless, so don't get too caught up in whatever that number happens to be. Instead, focus more on the number of people who take action on your email.

After-the-click tracking with Google Analytics

While your email marketing provider tracks opens and clicks for you, you need to implement conversion tracking yourself.

Often you'll rely on Google Analytics to track those conversions for you as most email marketing tools don't have conversion/sales tracking features.

Setting up Google Analytics for email sales tracking is straightforward:

UTM parameters are just something you append to your links - e.g. ?utm_source=flash-sale-3&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=flash-sale-3-main-cta.

When the landing page has your Google Analytics script on it the information from the UTM parameters gets passed to your GA and associated with this user session.

When someone then buys your product Google Analytics knows where that user came from and you can see it in your reports.

Bonus tip: Use only lower case for the UTM parameters ("flash-sale-3" instead of "Flash-Sale-3"). UTM parameters are case-sensitive so mixing them up messes with your reports. By sticking to lower case you avoid that problem from the get-go.

With "after the click tracking" in place you can track which email is bringing in the most revenue - or if you're not selling a product you can track the number of conversion per click.

Knowing which email has the highest conversions per click/earnings per click helps you understand which of your email campaigns is the most compelling.

Higher conversions per click indicate that your email campaign is talking about the right things to the right people at the right time:

Having those numbers available also makes it easier to A/B test, because you can measure the desired outcome (earnings) instead of a proxy (clicks).

So take a few minutes and set up sales tracking for your emails in Google Analytics.