Using Pixels With Google Analytics


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If you’ve been keeping up with our blog series on Google Analytics (GA), you know we’re big fans. Its main purpose is to show how many visitors come to your website but did you know Google Analytics can track email opens, events on a webpage, ad impressions on social media, and more? By using something called a tracking pixel, you can see how effective your efforts to reach out to people are!

What’s a Tracking Pixel?

Let’s say you’re emailing out a newsletter. A pixel is a tiny, 1X1 pixel transparent image that you can embed right in the newsletter to track how many times it actually gets opened! It’s a bit like a tracking bug from a James Bond movie, except you don’t need to be a super spy to use one. Pixels can also be referred to as Cookies.

How do Tracking Pixels Work?

Continuing with the hypothetical newsletter from above, each time someone opens the email you sent, their computer has to download information. This includes the pixel image. Once that happens, the tracking pixel sends a message back to the server the email was hosted on saying ͞Hey! Send that image to this computer!"

In response, the server says, ͞Sure thing boss͟, sends the tracking pixel, and makes a note of the event in its server logs. At the end of the day/week/month/whatever, you can log into your Google Analytics account and see how many different IP addresses requested the pixel. If 10,000 different IP addresses asked for it, that means 10,000 people opened your newsletter!

How do I Embed the Tracking Pixel?

There’s no one way to do it as each platform/email service may have their own method of doing things. Detailed instructions on Google Analytics event tracking can be found here but we’ll give a quick overview:

1)Open an image editing program and create a new image measuring one pixel wide by one pixel high.

2) Save the image as a transparent GIF file. Usually the transparency option can be found in the Save As window.

3) Compose your email message and insert the tracking pixel at the very end. Most email programs have an ͞Insert͟ option that’ll embed the image for you. If you’re tech-minded and prefer to be a little more involved, you can always embed the image tag within the HTML of your email. It’ll look something like this:

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That URL has all the necessary information for Google Analytics to know what email campaign is being sent, which account is sending it, and which user is opening the email. Here’s a sample of what the URL might look like:

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Note that the highlighted section is a unique Google Analytics ID that can be found on the admin page of your account.

THere’s a breakdown of what those codes mean:

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4) Send your email and check Google Analytics after a few days to see how many times the tracking pixel has been requested. Here’s a tip: use a different pixel for each mail out. That way you can get more accurate stats and track the effectiveness of each campaign.

With that done, you should get a pretty decent view of how many people are actually opening your emails versus how many you send. Keep in mind that some people have images deactivated in their emails or changed their settings to prevent opened messages from downloading files. If either of those are activated, your pixel isn’t going to work. But if that’s the case, it’s OK because you’ll still have more insight into how many conversions your emails are scoring than you did before!

It’s impossible to teach you everything about Google Analytics in 500 words so if you’d like a bit of assistance from Kelowna’s premiere boutique digital marketing & web design agency, get in touch today. We’d love to help you learn more and really get your business to shine online!

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