LISTSERV at Work

Email Tracking: How to Do It Right These Days

As the EU GDPR became a "threenager" in May, email marketers and communicators around the globe continue to grapple with its requirements. It all boils down to this: If you're sending email campaigns and tracking the results, you are processing the personal data of your subscribers and need to use personal tracking with subscriber consent or anonymous tracking to be fully compliant with the GDPR.

Did you know that obtaining personal tracking consent from subscribers and using anonymous tracking for people who don't give permission enables you to communicate internationally and enjoy the benefits of in-depth tracking reports and analytics? For subscribers who allow personal tracking, you can send customized follow-up messages and other advanced communications that aren't possible without tracking.

EU GDPR

Use Email Tracking to Engage Subscribers and See Results

1. View and Click Metrics

Find out how many recipients opened the email or what percentage of subscribers clicked on a certain link in the email – or compare the results of two versions of an email campaign using A/B-split testing.

Note: Follow the developments on mail privacy protection. If messages are prefetched in certain email clients, such as Apple Mail, your open-up rates might not be as reliable as before. Focus on the click rates and conversion rates instead to measure the engagement and results of your mailings.

2. Demographic Analysis of Subscriber Behavior

See how successful a mailing was among subscribers, for example, in one country versus those in another country by measuring each group's clicks on a CTA link.

3. Follow-Up Mailings Based on a Subscriber's Previous Actions

Send a mailing to a group of subscribers. A few days later, send a follow-up mailing to subscribers who clicked one or more links in the original email and a different follow-up message to those who didn't.

Of course, there are many additional ways to benefit from the rich data that email tracking provides, and you can use the email tracking features in LISTSERV Maestro to create your own versions of these examples.

The big question is which type of tracking to use. LISTSERV Maestro helps you with your tracking and reporting needs by providing four main tracking levels that you can easily set up for your email campaigns.

Levels of Tracking

Anonymous Tracking

The purview of the GDPR is the protection of personal data. Any data that is collected in an anonymous fashion doesn't usually count as personal data and does not fall under the GDPR's purview. So naturally, the easiest way to comply with the GDPR is to use anonymous email tracking.

While using anonymous tracking makes it easier to meet GDPR requirements, the disadvantage is that it doesn't allow follow-up mailings and only provides limited demographic analysis.

Personal Tracking with Permission

To be able to take advantage of all the ways to use tracking in the examples above, you'll need to use personal tracking with permission. First, consult with your legal counsel to determine if bundling the consent to tracking into the subscription terms is acceptable. If so, during the subscription process, you must ask for your recipients' consent to track their activities, like opens and clicks, if you intend to use personal tracking. The most common way to do this is to include this information in your subscription terms in a detailed fashion, for instance, using the special "Consent to Subscription Terms" profile field type in LISTSERV Maestro.

However, including a consent request for personal tracking in the subscription terms may have an alienating effect on potential subscribers, possibly leading to a lower subscription rate than you might otherwise have.

Separating Consent to Personal Tracking from the Subscription Terms

The simplest way to separate the consent to personal tracking from the subscription terms is to use the permission-based personal tracking feature of LISTSERV Maestro. This type of personal tracking is available when using a LISTSERV Maestro subscriber list that has a profile field of the special type "Consent to Personal Tracking".

With this profile field, the subscriber can freely choose whether to give consent at the time of the subscription. You can then use personal tracking for subscribers who have given consent and anonymous tracking for those who haven't.

The Importance of Trust and Transparency

To build trust and transparency and avoid legal problems, be sure to check your governing data privacy and opt-in legislation and seek explicit prior consent from recipients for your organization to handle and use their personal tracking data. Communicate with your recipients to request consent for personal tracking. Explain why you use tracking. Providing full disclosure and transparency may well result in better engagement because personal tracking allows you to send highly targeted follow-up communication.

View Video Tutorial:
How Do I Ask My Subscribers to Consent to Personal Tracking?

Read Whitepaper:
Email Tracking 101


Next Steps


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