Sunday, November 10, 2019

Deploy Audience Manager Email Pixel in Adobe Campaign Standard

Email is a very effective channel to reach your customers and it's one of the more cheaper options to consider in your overall marketing strategy. It's estimated that email users will hit 3 Billion by 2020 according to this article which is ~40% of the total world population (7.7 Billion as of October-19). Last year, I wrote about tracking email clicks and impressions in Audience Manager that captures the user id and syncs it with the DMP. I didn't cover how to deploy this pixel in an Email Service Provider (ESP) so in this post, I’ll explain how to deploy AAM email pixels in Campaign Standard and specifically expand on the "Deploy the Pixel in the Email Marketing Software" section from the previous post. I'm also writing this as I got a few questions about how to actually do it in an ESP so given that Campaign is an Adobe product, this made sense to me.

I'm going to refer to some components of the Campaign Standard UI in this post so you can read this Adobe article in case you're not familiar with how to create an email template. Let's go through the various steps:

Use Case

Before we continue, let's take a closer look at the problem we're trying to solve. The main use case here is to perform an Audience Manager ID sync on users who view or click on an email. This can be helpful when you don't have a good way to capture authenticated users on your website for AAM Id sync/natural match purposes. The other advantage here is that you can upload additional data into Audience Manager tied to these IDs and connect these with additional data sources thereby activating on your Email marketing channel users.

It's important to note that there's no concept of a UUID cookie here unless the email is viewed in a browser but given that we add an ID sync, we target users tied to the data source and profile merge rule in Audience Manager. Again, the primary intent is data onboarding in AAM and limited activation which is made possible via the ID sync.

Deploy the AAM Pixels in Campaign Standard

Assuming that we're using the same pixel format (Subdomain), we can add the pixel in the email designer where I will cover how to add the pixel both using HTML (imp pixel) and the email designer UI (click pixel) in Campaign Standard. 

AAM Impression Pixel (HTML)

In the email designer UI, select the "HTML" option.

At the end of the HTML code, manually add the image tag. Please note that I'm using the same user ID as per my last post as I don't have a hashed ID in Campaign but in order to get the most value, I highly encourage you to add a hashed id tied to email and for that, you'll have to use the Email Designer option to add the user ID as a personalized field (see next section).

AAM Click Pixel (Email Designer)

Follow the steps laid out in this Adobe article to personalize the links. I will show a simple example of how to do that but will not really include it for my example. 

Select the "Get Started" CTA and click on the pencil icon to to add a URL. 

In the editor, I've added a click pixel where I've included the d_rd (Mandatory redirect URL) parameter which redirects you the landing page URL that needs to be encoded. Also, note that I've added a personalization field as an example so if you have a user ID, you can add it to the pixel as shown below. Finally, I've also added a custom query string parameter called "m_source" which you can track on your landing page in an eVar if you use Adobe Analytics or leverage the utm parameters if you use Google Analytics.

Create Traits in AAM

Before sending the email, make sure that you create the relevant traits tied to impressions and clicks in Audience Manager. I cover this in the next section.

Send the Email

In my example, I just sent to email to myself which is why you just see one email sent.

I can see the email in Microsoft Outlook where an impression pixel will fire as well as the click pixel if a user clicks on the "Get Started" CTA.  

Validate the AAM Pixels

We already covered how to validate the email pixels in the last post I wrote but I'm going to do so again as now I'm deploying the pixels in an actual ESP this time around.

Validate in Campaign Standard

We can preview the email in Campaign where it shows you how the email will look on both Desktop and Mobile. After opening up the network tab, I'm able to see the impression pixel fire. Please note that this needs to occur before you send the email so I skipped a step here.

Validate Impression Pixel in Microsoft Outlook

For the purposes of this demo and to simplify QA, I'm manually opening up the email in a browser but note that the pixel will fire in Outlook as well. I'm able to see an impression pixel firing after I open it in a browser.

Validate Click Pixel in Microsoft Outlook

In this case, I clicked on the "Get Started" CTA and preserved logs in Chrome to see that the click pixel took me to the landing page as fired a call to AAM.

Validate Email Pixels in Audience Manager

The next step is to validate the email pixels in AAM. We created two traits tied to impression and click and both show that I qualified for each of the traits.

Validate Email Clicks in Analytics Solution

The final step is to validate how many users actually land on your site which will be users who click on the email. In my case, I have Google Analytics tagged on my blog so I've included a quick example but in hindsight, I should've leveraged the utm parameters as I'm using GA but you can capture this query param in your Campaign ID variable.

So that's the extent of the various steps involved in tracking AAM email pixels in Adobe Campaign Standard.

Additional Things to Consider

I'm going to cover some additional points that are important to consider before doing this.

  • Emails and JavaScript: Emails don't run JavaScript code so we have to leverage an AAM image tag for capturing impressions and clicks. 
  • Email Client Limitation: Audience Manager or any other image pixels don't fire by default in Gmail or any other web based email service but the pixel will fire when you click the option to view the email in detail (separate browser tab/window) which is typically included at the end of the email. An app based email service such as Outlook will fire the pixel by default so you will have to estimate the potential drop-off because of this limitation.
  • Email Click Redirect: You will notice that the clicked URL will momentarily redirect to Campaign before taking you to the final landing page. This happens because a click needs to be registered in Campaign which is visible in the native Campaign reporting UI.
  • Feasibility of the AAM Click Pixel: You may or may not need the click pixel depending on how well the tracking is on your landing page. If you're already tracking the query string parameter on your landing page then you may not need to implement the click pixel as it will incur an additional AAM server call in addition to the impression pixel. So, if the intent is just to ID sync users in AAM then you won't really need to implement it.

So, that's a wrap! Hope you found this post useful as you can use the same framework to deploy any other image pixel aside from AAM in Campaign Standard.

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