Adobe Analytics: Email Marketing (ESP) Integration Case Study
Integrating with an Email Service Provider (ESP) has been one of the most popular integration use cases for Adobe Analytics customers for a long time. Many of these integrations are available as pre-built Data Connectors for Adobe Analytics. However not every ESP out there has a Data Connector, and in some cases an ESP will stop supporting a Data Connector integration—as recently was the case with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (once known as ExactTarget) connector.
In this post, I’ll break down what most of the email marketing Data Connector integrations do behind the scenes and describe how you can create something similar on your own when a Data Connector integration isn’t available.
The basic idea
In Adobe Analytics you can see how many people have clicked through from an email campaign because you can track the campaign codes included in query string parameters on the link from the email. You can then see what users did from there on your site and tie that behavior back to click throughs. But what about before the user clicks through to your site? There are metrics like emails sent, emails opened, and emails unsubscribed that your email marketing provider has but that Adobe Analytics doesn’t have. Those metrics need to be sent from your email marketing provider to Adobe Analytics so that they can also be taken into account when you’re looking at your campaign’s performance.
Going in the other direction, it can be really useful to pass information about your customers’ behavior on your site from Adobe Analytics to your email marketing tool to use for re-marketing. For example, you might want to target people who abandoned their cart without purchasing. You can pass information about that group of people back to your email marketing tool from Adobe Analytics and target those people campaigns.
In the next section, I’ll describe how you can get email metrics from your email marketing provider into Adobe Analytics. In the section after that I’ll describe how to pass information from Adobe Analytics to your email marketing provider.
Getting data from your email marketing provider into Adobe Analytics
The first (and maybe most important) two pieces of data that you need to make sure you are getting from your email provider are the campaign ID and recipient ID. These IDs are usually included as query string parameters on the link in the email. You can use processing rules to copy these values into two separate eVars in Adobe Analytics without adding any code to your webpages. Alternatively, you could set up a rule in Adobe’s tag manager Adobe Experience Platform Launch to capture these values. Whichever method you use, these two values need to be captured and placed into two separate eVars when a user comes to your site from one of your email campaigns.
The recipient ID will be used for re-marketing but you probably won’t use it for any reporting within Adobe Analytics so we’ll leave it aside for now and come back to it in the next section. For now, we’ll focus on the campaign ID. These IDs are not very user-friendly—it would be difficult for your analysts to use them in reporting. So the next step is to get user-friendly data from your email marketing provider and use it to ‘classify’ (or provide metadata about) these IDs which your analysts can then use for reporting. For this, you’ll use classifications. You will need to work with email provider to upload a file that associates those campaign IDs with all sorts of metadata such as Message Name, Message Subject, Delivery Tool, Campaign Name, Category etc. Each of these pieces of metadata (or ‘classifications’) can then be used in Adobe Analytics as a report making life much easier on your analysts and giving them a lot of flexibility in the way they report on your email campaign performance. Check out this documentation for info on the Classifications API.
The second set of data that you’ll want to get from your email provider is all of the metrics about your campaigns—emails sent, delivered, bounced, opened, unsubscribed, and clicked-that Adobe Analytics doesn’t have. For these metrics, you’ll want to use Data Sources (not to be confused with Data Connectors). Data Sources allow you to pull offline metrics into Adobe Analytics and associate them with eVars. The eVar that you’ll want to associate these metrics with is your campaign eVar. Once these metrics are pulled into Adobe Analytics, you’ll be able to see how your campaigns are doing from start to finish—from how many emails you sent to how many customers from that campaign converted on your website. Check out this documentation for information on the Data Sources API.
And that’s it for getting data into Adobe Analytics. The next section describes how to get data back to your email marketing provider.
Getting data from Adobe Analytics to your email marketing provider
You can use Adobe Analytics to segment your users and then send this segment information back to your email marketing tool for retargeting. For example, you might want to create a segment of users that abandoned their carts without finishing the purchase. You could then use this information to target an email campaign to those users reminding them about their items sitting in their cart and maybe offering a discount or other incentive to finish the purchase. Adobe Analytics’ segmenting tool is very flexible so the types of segments you create to send back to your email marketing provider are limited only by your data and your imagination. Check out the documentation on the segmenting tool for more information.
Once you have those segments created, you’ll need to send them back to your email marketing provider. You can do this by creating a Data Warehouse feed. Remember the recipient ID? Here’s where you’ll use it. You can set up the feed to include that recipient ID eVar and any segments that you want to associate with that ID (e.g., cart abandons, product views, product purchases etc.). Often Adobe Analytics clients also include the products variable, the email campaign ID eVar, and the date in their feeds. You’ll need to coordinate with your email provider on the data you’ll be sending them and they’ll need an ftp site available to receive the data. Usually Adobe Analytics clients opt to send this data once a day but Data Warehouse can do other frequencies if you need. Check out this documentation on the Data Warehouse API (which is a part of the reporting API).
And that’s it. Hopefully this gives you a good foundation for building your own custom integration between Adobe Analytics and your email provider. Reach out to Adobe Consulting Services if you need help building this custom integration.
For more information about Adobe Analytics integration tools in general and how to get an Adobe Analytics sandbox for building and testing your integration, check out this article.