Which Year-End Email Appeals Will Raise The Most Money?

We all know these last few weeks of the year are when your supporters are the most generous, and email is still one of the best ways to encourage them to support your work. So you’ll be sending some year-end email appeals to your list.

You probably know how many people open and click on the emails you send out, and you definitely know how much money you raise online.

But do you know precisely how much money was raised by each email message? Knowing which appeals worked and which fell flat is the key to raising more money online.

Google analytics is really good at helping you find out what’s working and what’s not with your email. There are two features you need to understand to get this information from your Google Analytics setup.

1. Campaign Tagging and Year-End Email Appeals

This is the technique of adding a little bit of information to the links in your email messages, telling Google Analytics exactly which email message the visitor is clicking on. Your results will show up under “Acquisition > Campaigns” in your Google Analytics account (as shown below).

campaign tagging

If you’re using an email broadcast tool like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, this kind of tracking is done automatically once you enable that feature. If your email system doesn’t have this feature, don’t worry, you can still add this information to each link in your email that sends people to your donate page – it will just take a little longer to set up.

You can learn more about how to set up and use campaign tagging to track your email, online ads and social media here (quick tutorial on campaign tagging).

2. Ecommerce Tracking and Year-End Email Appeals

One of the most powerful features in Google Analytics is called ecommerce tracking. It gives you valuable information about your online donations and sales, such as what paths people took through your site before the transaction, how often they visited before donating, and the dollar value of visitors from different sources of traffic, like search, email and online ads.

This feature needs to be set up on your website and enabled in your Google Analytics account. Very simply, once someone reaches your “Thank You for Donating” page, some information about the donation – the amount, the currency, a transaction ID – is passed to Google Analytics in a special format that it stores as a transaction.

Note: No sensitive information like names or credit card numbers is shared with Google Analytics.

If your online donations system supports this method of tracking it’s a matter of enabling it. If not, a web developer will have to make minor modifications to your system to pass this ecommerce information to Google Analytics. You can find out more about ecommerce tracking here (Google documentation on how to set up).

To see your ecommerce results, go to “Conversions” at the bottom left column in Google Analytics and then click ”Ecommerce”.

Using campaign tagging and ecommerce to see what’s working and what’s not with your online donation appeals is a key step in improving your online fundraising efforts.

You can learn more about using Google Analytics with these free online tutorials.


Eric Squair offers workshops, coaching and consulting on web analytics to nonprofits and businesses.

John Haydon