Recipient Action Tracking
LISTSERV Maestro's open-up and click tracking features give you a good overview of what your recipients do with your email. However, what you can not see from this data is, what the recipients do once they follow the links in your email to the web pages (for example product pages) that you were promoting with the email.
For this, you can use the Recipient Action Tracking feature.
The background and idea behind action tracking is described below in more detail.
On this screen, you can define if, and how, action tracking will happen.
Check the Activate Recipient Action Tracking option to activate action tracking. This option has an effect on all mail-jobs that are delivered after the option was set. I.e., if you change the activation state, then this affects only jobs which are delivered in the future. It does not affect jobs that have already been delivered.
If action tracking is activated, then the HTML-view and click tracking code which is embedded into a tracked email includes data that will cause a special cookie to be set in the recipients browser. This cookie is what makes action tracking happen (see below for details). The name of the cookie that will be set is displayed on this screen, for informational purposes.
Important: While action tracking is active, all mail jobs with tracking contain the special data that will cause the action tracking cookie to be set.
The cookie will only have a certain lifetime: Set this by selecting the desired lifetime from the Cookie Lifetime drop-down list (again, changes to this setting affect only mail jobs which are delivered in the future). You can select a lifetime between 1 and 30 days, or a lifetime where the cookie expires as soon as the recipient closes the current browser session. See below for more details on how the cookie lifetime affects the action tracking.
The Action Tags table shows all action tracking tags that are currently defined (see below for details). Click on Add Action Tag to create a new tag. When creating a new tag, you need to enter a unique name for this tag. You should chose a meaningful name that will later allow you to recognize and discern this tag from others. Click the associated Rename link of an existing tag to rename this tag. Or click Delete to delete an existing tag.
An action tag is a special HTML code snippet that needs to be embedded into your web pages (see below). To display this HTML code snippet for an action tag, click on Show Tag Code.
What is Recipient Action Tracking and how does it work?
The basis for action tracking are special HTML tags (called "action tags") that you need to embed into all web pages for which you want to collect action tracking events (you "tag" these pages with your action tracking tags). The action tags are created in LISTSERV Maestro, with a user specified name and a unique ID (which LISTSERV Maestro generates for you). See above for details on how to create action tags. You can create as many action tags as you like, for various purposes.
For example, you may want to measure how many recipients actually arrive at your landing page. So you
could define an action tag "Landing Page" and tag your landing page with it, i.e. you would integrate
the HTML code of the action tag into the HTML code of your landing page.
Or maybe you want to measure how many recipients look at the product page of a certain product. So you could define an action tag for this product and tag the product page with it. Or maybe you are interested to see how many recipients actually buy one of the products or services that were promoted in your email. Assumably on your web page or in your web-shop system, there is a "Thank you for your purchase" confirmation page that is displayed to the user after he has bought the product. In that case, you could create a "Purchase" action tag and tag this confirmation page with it. If you want individual action tracking events for different products, then you could create an individual "Product X Purchased" action tag for each product and tag each product's purchase confirmation page with the corresponding tag (assuming that you have individual confirmation pages for your products). And many similar scenarios.
Of course, you probably already have some sort of measuring system in place which measures how many visitors look at your landing page, product page or how many people buy your products or services. However what this existing measuring system can not tell you is, if a page was visited because the visitor previously learned about it in your email (and then clicked through to the page or even bought your product) or if the visitor learned about the page in some other way.
For example: A web shop has a special "offer of the week" which is promoted via two channels: A targeted email to all newsletter recipients and banner ads at various websites. After the promotion has been started (the newsletter was sent and the banner ads are booked), sales of the special offer product do indeed pick up, as both the normal website measuring system and the shop system show. The question however is: Is this increase due to the banner ads or because of the newsletter - or maybe both?
With LISTSERV Maestro's action tracking, action events will only be generated by visitors who previously viewed (and clicked) the promotion email. So it is possible to compare the events collected for the "Offer of the Week Purchased" action tag with the actual purchases, to find out how effective the email promotion was in comparision to the banner promotion. If for example 200 sales were made in total, and there were 150 action events for this action tag, then 75% of the purchases were made by people that previously received the promotion email and only 25% were made by people that came via the banners (or that just found the offer on their own). But if there were only 10 action events, then that would show that the email promotion contributed only 5% of the sales. In both cases, this information would be valuable for planning future promotions.
Recipient action tracking is cookie based: If a recipient opens your tracked email and clicks a tracked link to your promoted website or web pages, then by this click, a cookie is sent to the recipient's browser. The cookie remains "alive" in the browser for a certain time (see above on how to define this "cookie lifetime"). If the recipient should later visit one of your tagged web pages while the cookie is still alive, then this will generate an action tracking event for this recipient, where the tracking event contains the details about both which action tag (on the tagged page) generated the event, and which tracked link initially set the cookie in the recipient's browser.
The presence of the cookie in the recipient's browser is a precondition for the triggering of the action tracking event. Therefore, such an event will only be generated by page visitors that have previously received this cookie via one of your emails. Which in turn means that visitors that reach your pages via other means (for example via a search engine, a link from another site, or a bookmark) will not generate an action event because they do not have this cookie.
And even better: Since the cookie has a certain lifetime, any recipient who previously received the cookie from your email will still generate an action even if he visits the tagged page at a later time (while the cookie has not yet expired).
For example: A recipient receives the promotion email and sees the link to the "offer of the week", which interests him. So he clicks on the link, which creates the cookie in the recipient's browser. The recipient then checks out the offer but is still undecided if he wants to buy the product. For the time being, he does not buy it but only creates a bookmark to the product page in his browser. During the following days, the recipient continues to think about the product and finally decides that he indeed wants to buy it (before the "offer of the week" expires). So, he goes back to his computer, re-opens the browser and uses his bookmark to return to the product page. He then buys the product and is presented with the "Thank you for your purchase" confirmation page. This page has previously been tagged with an action tracking tag, and this action tag will now generate an action tracking event, counting the purchase for this customer. It will generate this event even though the user has reached the product page (and subsequently the purchase confirmation page) not via the actual promotion email, but via a bookmark in his browser. The reason for this is that the action tracking cookie that was created a few days ago, when the user initially clicked through to the product page from the promotion email, is still alive in his browser. So the action tracking tag still recognizes this customer as a customer, who has previously viewed/clicked the promotion email.
And rightly so because even though the customer now used a bookmark to return to the page and buy the product, the actual trigger for this was the promotion email that he received and read a few days earlier. It only took a few days for him to decide if he wanted to accept the offer or not, but the fact that he finally did, is still a direct consequence of him reading the email in the first place. So this customer's purchase should rightly be counted as one that was initiated by the promotional email (in contrast to other purchases, where the customers came via the banner ads or even other means).
Thus, the cookie liftime is the setting by which you can control how long the "memory" of the action tracking tags are. If you set this to a short value, then only recipients which visit tagged pages shortly after they read your emails will actually generate events. If they visit the same pages later, they will not generate events anymore and will thus be assumed to just be another "normal" visitor. If you set the cookie lifetime to a longer value, then the action tags will recognize recipients for a longer time. In some cases that may be useful, but it may also become a problem, for example if this time interval overlaps with the sending of next week's "offer of the week". Therefore, you should always try to find a good middle ground for the cookie lifetime, so you can achive a "memory" effect that is neither too short or too long and that also fits well with your mailing frequency.