How To Measure Email Fundraising Campaigns

Are you in the same boat as so many nonprofits? Struggling to measure the performance of email fundraising campaigns?

You can see all of your email metrics like opens and clicks in a colorful report displayed in your email tool, but you have a hard time figuring out how many donors and contributions were generated by your email efforts, let alone how much revenue was generated.

Email tools are built to send email and so they measure the emails that are sent. They aren’t built to measure the performance of your website. You have to measure both pre-click (leading up to clicking through to your website) and post-click (after they have clicked out of the email onto your website) conversion metrics. To see post-click metrics you have to set up and use a web analytics tool like Google Analytics.

Google analytics is free and easy to set up by placing a snippet of code (that the tool generates for you) onto each page of your site. Once you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your site you have to tag the links in your emails to signal Google to mark the traffic from those links as email so you can see the performance of that traffic separate from the rest of your web traffic.

Google Analytics Campaign Tagging

Tagging the links in your email is simple to setup. You just add a few standard parameters to the end of your url, this is referred to as a query string. These parameters tell Google Analytics how to organize the data so you can easily find and report on it later.

These are up to 5 “name-value” pairs which are part of the query string for the URL (denoted by everything after the “?” in the web address as in the example below).

Without UTM Parameters:

With UTM Parameters:

For email marketing, I recommend the following parameters:

  • utm_campaign – name of the campaign or specific fundraising effort
  • utm_source –  where the traffic came from or type of email communication
  • utm_medium – marketing medium or channel
  • * utm_term – the list or segment you are emailing or the clickable button or logo in the email if you are using one
  • * utm_content – a descriptor of the email content

*Note: term and content are optional.

Google provides a free tool that builds the query string onto your URL for you, all you have to do is input each parameter. The tool even has an option to shorten the url for use in social media!

Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Once the email links have been tagged and Google knows how to treat your data, you have to find it in the tool’s reports. The easiest way to do this is to create an advanced segment that allows you to look at only the visitor data tagged with the medium of email across all Google Analytics reports.

To set up an advanced segment log into Google Analytics and on the Audience Overview click the rectangle next to All Users that says + Add Segment.

This will take you to a screen showing all the existing advanced segments as well as provide an option to create a new segment. Click the red + NEW SEGMENT button.

This brings you to a screen that allows you to create the criteria for your segment. Select Traffic Sources from the left-hand navigation and set the Medium to filter users on email and name your segment clearly.

Now that you have created your new advanced segment for email traffic, you can easily select it using the same + Add Segment screen where we created the segment. It will be applied in a different color than the default All Users segment. You can also remove the All Users segment if you’d like to look at only your email traffic.

Now you’re able to see the performance of your email sourced traffic on any report in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Campaign Reports

Now that you can see only the users who have come to your site from your email campaigns. The best report to see the results of those visits is the Campaigns Report. This report gives you the full post-click story from visit to site through conversion on site.

This report lives under Acquisition >> Campaigns. If you have your goals defined in Google Analytics then you are able to see how many donation forms have been completed on your site by email campaign. If you have ecommerce tracking set up you can see how much revenue in contributions each of your campaigns have brought in.

And there you have it, you’re measuring post-click activity on your fundraising email campaigns! Now you can see actual return and you’re not stuck with only pre-click metrics like delivery and open rates. Time to get started with testing and experimentation to see what works.

Are you measuring post-click?

We’d love to know what kinds of insights you are pulling and which web analytics tools you are using. Share in the comments.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Take a self-guided tour of Virtuous, where you can explore the platform at your own pace and see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

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