You might be wondering why this is important since your email newsletter services already has analytics. Well, you want to track opt-ins using Google Analytics as well because it will show you valuable information about WHY people are subscribing. Using this info, you can optimize your website content and possibly even layout to increase the conversion rate (amount of visitors who sign up). I’ll explain this in more detail below.
First things first – if you have a website, you are probably already using Google Analytics. If not, please stop what you’re doing and go get that set up right now! This free tool is so valuable for tracking how much traffic your website receives as well as what content is the most popular, websites who are linking to you and so much more. In addition to these features, you can also use Google Analytics to track goals, such as email newsletter opt-ins, which is what I’m going to show you right now.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have an email newsletter or opt-in on my website until recently! So if you don’t have these yet, no worries! But definitely get them up soon. Even if you don’t know what you’ll be sending as your email newsletter, giving people an opportunity to subscribe is SO important. By building a list of people who have given you their email address, you are creating a database of readers and possibly even potential customers if you are selling products or services.
Moving forward, I’m assuming that you now have both Google Analytics and an email opt-in form on your website. This example will show how to integrate with MailChimp, since that’s the service I use for email newsletters.
Now, let’s start tracking those opt-ins!
Step 1: Create a “thank you” page on your website
1. Add text to the page, thanking people for signing up. Let them know if there are any further actions they need to perform in order to get fully subscribed, such as clicking a confirmation link in an email.
2. Perhaps let people know when they can expect to receive your newsletter and more about the content.
3. Copy the URL of this page. You’ll need it in the next step.
Step 2: Set up MailChimp to direct users to a specific URL after completing the opt-in form.
1. Login to your MailChimp account and click “Lists” in the top nav menu.
2. Click on the list you are working with, then click “Signup Forms.”
3. Under the “Forms and response” drop down menu, select “Signup thank you page.”
4. Where it says “Instead of showing this thank you page, send subscribers to another URL,” paste the URL of the page you just created.
Step 3: Create a goal in Google Analytics
1. Login to your account.
2. Click “admin” in the top nav bar.
3. Click on Goals under the “View” column.
4. Click “+New Goal.”
5. Under Goal Setup > Template, click “Newsletter sign up” then click “continue.”
6. Under Goal Description, enter a name for your goal.
7. Select “Destination” under Type and click “Continue.”
8. Enter your “Thank You” page URL in the field next to “Goal Details > Destination.”
9. Click save.
How to make sure it works
Since you just created your “thank you” page, there will not be an Google Analytics data for this goal yet and it may take up to 24-48 hours for data to be updated. Be sure to visit the “Thank you” page that you created. That way, in a day or two you should see this appear in your GA account.
You can confirm that it’s tracking opt-ins by going back to your goals section of GA (like we did in step 3 above). Click on the goal you created and then click on “Edit” next to “Goal Details.” You will see a link that says “Verify this goal.” Clicking that link will show you the conversion rate for your goal. We’re basically checking to make sure that it is any number above zero. If it’s zero, then the goal may have been set up incorrectly.
When I first set this up, it didn’t seem to work and then I realized that the destination URL needed to have the trailing slash. Using the “Verify this Goal” link is how I was able to quickly figure out how to get it working properly.
Why all of this matters
So now you have your goal set up, it’s tracking opt-ins and you want to know what’s next. Let’s check out the data! Click the “Reporting” in the top navigation bar. Click “Conversions” in the left sidebar. It will expand the menu. Click “Goals” and another menu will expand. Under the Goals menu, you will see a few options. Overview will show you how many opt-ins you’ve received and your conversion rate in the last month(default setting).
Reverse Goal Path & Goal Flow
These sections are the most valuable! Here, you can see exactly which pages of your site users were on before they decided to opt-in to your newsletter. In Reverse Goal Path will show you the exact URLs users visited up to three steps before signing up. Goal Flow gives you a visual chart that shows you what sites your users were on before signing up.
Over time, you will collect enough data to see trends and be able to make deductions based on the numbers. If you notice that your detail tutorial posts get you the most opt-ins, then perhaps you can focus more energy on writing those kinds of posts. If you see that your conversion rate is really high for visitors from a specific site, brainstorm ways of getting in front of that website’s users even more. If it’s a blog, perhaps write a guest post for them. If it’s a social media site, perhaps get more involved on that platform.
These are just a few ways of better understanding what content on your site is the most effective and letting that inform your future content creation and marketing plans.
Have you implemented goal tracking on your site? I’d love to hear how it has helped you increase your opt-in rates.