By default, Google Analytics tracks only three values for the Medium dimension:
- (none) – for direct traffic
- organic – for clickthroughs that are 1) from sites that Google Analytics recognizes as search engines and 2) not tagged with campaign parameters
- referral – for clickthroughs that are 1) not from sites that Google Analytics recognizes as search engines and 2) not tagged with campaign parameters
Take special notice that there’s no default “email” medium.
Unless the inbound links in your newsletter and marketing emails are tagged with campaign parameters, any clickthroughs will count either as direct traffic in the case of a desktop email client such as Microsoft Outlook, or as referral traffic in the case of an online email client such as Yahoo or Hotmail.
Particularly confusing is that inbound links from Gmail appear in Google Analytics as “organic” (instead of “referrer”).
You can easily avoid this confusion and instead specifically track email as a medium by adding campaign parameters to all inbound links in emails:
You can use the Google Analytics URL Builder to make sure that you’re using the correct parameter names.
The order of the parameters names is not important, and you can mix them with other URL parameters:
Some email newsletter platforms can automatically append Google Analytics campaign parameters. Take advantage of this option if it’s available; otherwise, make sure to manually add campaign tags to all inbound links from emails. You need to know exactly how many visits and conversions are originating from this source.