Email links

I was recently talking to a friend about their email list. They’d turned off analytics (read: spy pixels) but wanted some metrics to relay to sponsors and advertisers.

Leaving aside privacy issues, open rates are a fragile metric, so we discussed monitoring link clicks instead.

Some newsletter providers allow list owners to track clicks in a privacy-focused way, but it’s not common. In many cases, the link strings are extended with unique identifiers that tie clicks to specific users.

This is an invasive and unnecessary practice. Unless those users are going to be retargeted for ads, of course.

Privacy-focused link tracking

If you have a website running analytics, you can use redirects to track links without coupling that data to a user’s email address:

  1. Set a redirect at yoursite.com/redirect for each link you want to track in an email
  2. Use these yoursite.com redirects in your email
  3. Check the stats for these links after you’ve sent the email

If you’re repeating a link across multiple emails and want to tie the analytics to a specific newsletter, you may need to create new links for each email. But in many cases, this won’t be necessary – especially as you can usually filter analytics by date.

This is an incredibly simple, privacy-focused method of tracking links sitting right under our noses.

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