95% of the most successful B2B businesses use metrics to measure content performance. Setting up a tracking infrastructure to monitor your content marketing efforts can be tough and time consuming, but not every part of your data tracking needs to be a hassle.
With a few simple steps, I’ll show you how to easily and automatically track your email campaigns every time you publish a new entry to your RSS feed, whether it’s a blog on your site or a new item on sale. After this is complete, you’ll have more time to focus on data analysis instead of data preparation.
The tool box you’ll need:
- An RSS feed
- An RSS enabled email campaign
- Google URL builder
- Google Analytics
Other important notes:
- No integrations required
- Low cost (can even be completely free)
Your Crash Course on an RSS Feed
This setup is great to use for bloggers, but can also be used to track a variety of different forms of content because you can monitor subscriber actions and behaviors after your email is sent. You can have an RSS feed for new sale items or an aggregation of articles based on keywords you are targeting, and see which items or articles are the most popular to your subscribers. Bloggers can also easily monitor which items or articles drive the most traffic, and monitor what happens after they land on their page.
Many WordPress sites and other common blogging platforms come pre-equipped with an RSS feature. You can view the source code of your site and then look for the term “RSS” to know whether or not your site has an RSS feed. If none are present, you’ll need to ask an external provider to set up your feed.
Once your RSS feed is ready you’ll only be copying and pasting your feed url – no coding required!
Setting Up An RSS Enabled Email Campaign
Some email marketing software (like MailChimp) offers an RSS email campaign feature. This allows you to send automated email notifications to subscribers based on updates to your RSS feed. This works using RSS tags specific to the email marketing software. You’ll have to make sure that your email marketing platform uses RSS tags to create your RSS enabled campaign.
With your RSS feed URL copied to your clipboard, begin setting up your RSS enabled email campaign. MailChimp’s RSS merge tags pull specific pieces of content from your RSS feed into your email message. Other services like GetResponse and Campaign Monitor have similar tags which pull RSS items into your email message. Throughout this article, we’ll refer to these tags as the “merge tags”. Think of them like (insert fumbled down relatable explanation sentence). The merge tag you want to focus your attention on is the merge tag to pull an RSS item’s url. This will be used in the email’s call to action (CTA) link.
Your CTA link will need to be generated with Google’s URL Builder using the merge tag for the RSS item’s URL. To get you started, here are MailChimp’s, Campaign Monitor’s, and GetResponse’s RSS item url tags below:
Campaign Monitor: <rssitemlink />
Google’s URL Builder
We’re almost there – but honestly has it been that long?
You’re now going to build your campaign tracking code with your RSS enabled merge tags as the url to track. Set your source, medium, content, and any other specifics you would like to track.
Example: either image or at least showing me in relatable words what source to set. Can give example company/scenario and then write out what you would set.
Once you’re finished, you should see your URL ready to be copied and implemented. Go ahead and copy that. But don’t push the little red button and launch the campaign – it’s not quite ready yet!
Paste your new url on any sort of text editor. Check your merge tag and make sure that no special characters were removed or added to the tag. If they were, highlight the characters that were inserted and replace them with the original characters from the tag.
The correct MailChimp RSS item url tag is *|RSSITEM:URL|*
What we pasted into the text editor was |*RSSITEM:URL*|. The URL Builder replaces the * and | characters – which would break the tag if left unchanged. Meaning it would not allow Mailchimp to pull the RSS item’s url.
By going back and fixing the url after you use the URL Builder, MailChimp will still be able to read the tag and insert the item’s url with the UTM tracking code in place.
When you paste this new tracking url into your email software’s RSS enabled email campaign, it will be able to read the merge tag in the custom built url and insert the RSS item’s url into the tag, followed by the campaign tracking code. The RSS item URL tag with the UTM parameters can be used to link anything you like: an image, text, even a button! I use this a lot with the bulletproof email button creator developed by Campaign Monitor’s email ninja Stig.
Testing, Testing… Google Analytics Can you Hear Me?
Send a test message to yourself and some colleagues and ask them to click the link to ensure everything is working. In Google Analytics you should see your email campaign under the campaign report in the acquisition tab. If everything checks out, it’s time to get your campaign launched!
This will also be a great opportunity to determine the right KPIs for your funnel and establish a baseline set of metrics and data for reporting amongst your team. Go into an incognito browser and act as if you are a subscriber receiving the email and clicking the tracked item. You should see your tracked campaign in Google Analytics with some “mock” data sets. I say “mock” because it’s really data we are generating and does not necessarily mean your subscribers will perform the same action.
So why do it? I say in the name of science! Marketing is part art and part data driven science – and this – is where the measuring part comes in. The mock data set allows us to form a hypothesis on what we expect subscribers to do, and when we launch the campaign we can observe exactly how they behave and compare that with the hypothetical set of KPIs to know where to implement optimizations.
Did subscribers behave as you would have expected? Despite subscriber behavior, did they end up converting and performing the desired action? By following these steps, these are important and useful questions you now can answer and share with your team.
Remember the little red button? Push the red button.
Launch your automated campaign and buckle up for the instant full funnel tracking from email to web! No more sifting through data and monitoring spikes in normal traffic to see where your subscribers are going after the click. Each time you’re ready to post something new, you know that the tracking and email campaign are already tee’d up for launch. Just make sure you’re ready for the sudden boost in your analytics game, you don’t want to end up like Agent J 🙂
Need a Boost?
Sometimes a busy company just wants the project done – or a little help getting it done with no complications. Argyle Interactive is happy to jump in and help your implementation efforts! Just fill out the form below and we’ll arrange a discovery session to get you started.
- Set up your RSS Feed
- Create your RSS enabled email campaign
- Generate your RSS item tracking tag using Google’s Url builder
- Add the properly formatted RSS item tracking tag to your RSS enabled email campaign
- Test the campaign and establish expected KPI’s
- Launch the campaign and compare your results against your hypothesis
- Adjust your reporting metrics accordingly and easily maintain your RSS email campaign’s performance.