I want to see who clicks a link in an email
May 15, 2012 3:05 AM   Subscribe

Managing a mailing list. I want to see who clicks a link. I want to look good infront of my boss.

I need to come up with an idea to improve my firm so I look good infront of the boss. I am focusing on our email list of customers.

My boss's PA sends out a email to around 2,000 people a month which basically says "Click on this link for our monthly report". As far as I can tell nobody collects data on how many click or better still who clicks. Can this easily be done?

I am guessing the email is sent out from outlook, with the recipients names in BCC.

Please just tell me what I need to say to look good in this scenario; I am not totally stupid, but I do need the vocabulary to look as if I have more of an idea of what to do.
posted by priorpark17 to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This entirely depends upon what is serving the file behind the link. Do you know what serves the monthly report itself?
posted by pompomtom at 3:11 AM on May 15, 2012

Best answer: I disagree. You can do this with almost any webserver provided you're willing and able to parse the logs.

Let's say the report is available at this url:
You need software that will create a database of unique strings that map to individual users. For each message you send out, you append this unique string to the url link to the report like so:
Then you parse the webserver's log for all instances of report.pdf and run the associated strings against your database to find out who looked at the report.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:25 AM on May 15, 2012

Best answer: If you're happy to pay someone else to send the emails, you can do this through, e.g. Campaign Monitor, which gives you reports like this by manipulating links in your email so that they can track them before they reach your server. That way you don't have to deal with parsing your own server logs. The downside: $5 per mailing + 1c/recipient.
posted by caek at 3:45 AM on May 15, 2012

You can do this using Google Analytics. You need to tag the URL sent out so that it 'tells' Analytics when someone has clicked on it. Note this won't give you any information on what happens after they click, i.e. where they stayed one second or one hour on your site. Tracking both the site where the monthly report sits and the link itself would be the money shot, but you can start with the link.

More information here:

posted by StephenF at 4:03 AM on May 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all. I now have the buzzwords thanks to all of you and will be able to dig more. But ifanyone has anything to add please chip in. BTW $5 and 1 cent an email looks the way to go.
posted by priorpark17 at 4:33 AM on May 15, 2012

You can do it for free with MailChimp if you don't mind a tiny MailChimp logo on your emails and are sending less than 12,000 emails a month (although there may be a limit on recipient numbers too - but even if you need to pay, the paid version is pretty cheap). The reports can show you exactly who clicks on what. Also it tracks the subscriber list as you send out regular emails and actually rates your subscribers depending on who interacts most with your emails, so you can see at a glance who the 5-star recipients are (very interested in your mails) and the one star recipients (not interested).
posted by KateViolet at 5:06 AM on May 15, 2012

Seconding MailChimp. Free (for your size list) and easy, and actually much safer for your company from a spam/list management perspective than doing it yourself via Outlook.
posted by judith at 7:50 AM on May 15, 2012

I've used both Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor. For this task, Campaign Monitor is a little simpler and a little more user-friendly (I also think the text editor is easier to use).
posted by KokuRyu at 7:55 AM on May 15, 2012

Another benefit of using a service like MailChimp is that it makes it easier to comply with anti-spam laws (which can sometimes be hard to do). MailChimp in particular requires you to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, and encourages you to be a responsible emailer in general.

I've found that as far as reasons go, "so we don't accidentally break the law and have to pay tons of fines" is a pretty good one.
posted by joJeppson at 9:25 AM on May 15, 2012

Try also Dada Mail, which is also free to download and use, provided you have a Unix/Linux-like hosting to install it on. It does not break down clicks per user, because of privacy issues, but the raw logs will reveal an IP address the click came from, that you can grok yourself, if you'd like. (Screenshot)

(full disclosure: I am, uh, Dada Mail)
posted by alex_skazat at 5:33 PM on May 15, 2012

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