Tracking for success – Design, Build, Test, Learn, Repeat

Now we are living in the era of Big Data and Analytics, tracking and reporting are two features we must to know in Marketing Cloud. When we are creating journeys, sending emails or SMS, it is mandatory to understand how the customers are interacting with the communications so we can adapt our campaigns accordingly and understand if we have achieved the main goal of the campaign or not (purchase a product, generate more engagement, convert the status of the customers…).

There are three main ways to retrieve this information natively in Marketing Cloud: Email Tracking tab, Report Catalog and Data Views.

Email Tracking tab

This tab provides a general overview of the main KPIs for each email sent from Journey Builder, Salesforce Sends, Triggered Sends, A/B Testing or single sends trough the wizard.

  • Total Sent
  • Opens
  • Clicks
  • Forwards
  • Conversions
  • Bounces
  • Unsubscribes
  • Delivery Rate

We can click on the numbers to get the details and export the recipients so we can build a specific campaign for those if needed (or we can create measures and add them easily to the canvas when applying the filters in a Data Extension).

Email Tracking tab

Apart from the Overview tab, we can also check the Click Activity to have a better understanding of where the customers are more likely to click. During the email development, it is really important to assign an Alias to all the links so we can easily identify each one.

Regarding the Delivery Rate, it is really important to do a follow-up of the different bounces rates (especially if we are starting to send emails from Marketing Cloud and we are in the IP Warming phase). The low is the bounce rate, the higher is the delivery rate and the better is the reputation of the IP, meaning that we will be able to send mass emails reducing the risk of the email to get in the SPAM folder or becoming undeliverable to an email provider.

Reporting Catalog

In Analytics Builder, we can find the Report tab, where to find more than 50 reports that includes information about the different native channels and focused on the different KPIs.

Marketing Cloud Report Catalog

Despite these reports cover most of the needs of the analytics team, it is important to know that they are standard and can not be customized, meaning that it is not possible to add customer data attributes to the reports or merge it with others. For most of the reports, all we can indicate is the date range, time zone, culture code or the email, SMS or Journey version we want to retrieve the information from.

Depending on the volume of information the report needs to manage, some of them can be viewed directly on the page or they will need to be exported to the SFTP or via Email. All the reports can be scheduled to be exported or shared via email in the file format is needed.

From my experience, these are the ones I mostly use:

  • Account Send Summary
  • Email Performance by Domain
  • Single Email Performance by Device
  • Impression Tracking by Job (for Dynamic Content blocks tracking)
  • Journey Builder Email Send Summary
  • SMS Message Detail Report

Data Views

All the information available in the reports and in the tracking tab (that we see in a really user-friendly way with rates, colours and graphics) is coming from the same source, the Marketing Cloud Data Views. These are internal tables that gather all the tracking activity.

The Data Views are accessible via SQL Query in Automation Studio and the structure (name, fields and format) cannot be change. You can find in this link all the technical details. You can find in this link all the technical details.

On the other hand, the advantage of being accessible using SQL Queries is that we can join this tables with other existing Data Extensions in Marketing Cloud so we can gather data like customer attributes and email KPIs in a resulting unique Data Extension.

Example of a SQL Query where using Data Views

It is important to know that the Data Views store (by default) the information of the past 6 months so, as a best practice, we should store the historical tracking in a different Data Extension or directly export it to another tool for reporting purposes.

When to use each?

As always, it depends, but in this case, all of them are complimentary. We can use the Email Tracking tab to have a quick overview of the performance of the email, schedule the sent of a couple of reports in a weekly or daily basis to the campaign owner for a business point of view or, for a more complex extraction, we can use Data Views to cross the tracking data with customer attributes.

Based on my experience, the most common way clients manage the tracking data is having it available in an external reporting tool (like Tableau or PowerBI), from where it is easier to create custom reports based on the needs of each campaign, based on the tracking information coming from the Data Views in Marketing Cloud, and also crossing it with customer attributes coming from the CRM.

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