If you’ve been checking out our website, you’d know that we’ve been talking a lot about tagging and how it can help you generate better campaign reports, understand your subscribers better, and produce better campaigns.

Just so you can share in our excitement, we’d like to walk you through the process and show you a few simple tricks to harness the power of tagging.  If you’ve ever tagged a blog post or a photo, you’d already know how tagging works.  Essentially, you attach a keyword or category name to similar posts or photos, so visitors to your blog or photo site can click on topics that they’re interested in.  And if you’re hooked up to a web statistics service (or if one is provided by your host), you can find out how many people clicked on a particular tag and get a sense of what your visitors like.

Now imagine having that capability integrated into your email marketing.  We hate to use a cliché, but the possibilities are simply mind-boggling.  When you can tag links within your emails, you’ll be able to find out what’s grabbing your subscriber’s attention.  It’s the next best thing to getting inside their heads.  (By the way, these tags won’t mess with your newsletter in the least; they can’t be viewed by anyone but you.)

It’s a spanking new concept at this point, but once you get the hang of tagging your emails – trust us, it’s easy – you’ll be an expert at making this feature work for you.  In the meantime, here are some ideas to get you started:

Text Vs. Image
Try assigning tags to your text and image links (e.g. “Text Links Columbia Coffee” and “Image Links Columbia Coffee”) to find out how your links are faring.  Wait, you say. Don’t many email programs block images automatically?  Yes they do, and we could probably assume that text links would be more popular as a result, although it would be great to get the actual numbers so you’re not wasting time on fancy graphics that no-one sees.  Also, we’ve heard experts tell us time and again to specify alternative text for images to encourage downloads.  Now you can test this theory when you run a new email campaign, by including ALT text with your images, tagging your image links, and comparing them with a previously tagged campaign that has images without ALT text.

Above Or Below The Fold?
Too often, we hear experts telling us that links “above the fold” get better results than those “below the fold,” which begs the question, “Is anyone paying attention beyond the preview pane?”  Sure, surveys have been done, but wouldn’t it be great to test this theory on the people who really matter to you?  Now you can, without breaking a sweat.  Simply assign a tag to content that falls within the preview pane and another to the rest of your content (e.g. “Above The Fold Columbian Coffee” and “Below The Fold Brazilian Coffee”).  Be sure to tag all your campaigns the same way, even campaigns that are six months old and beyond.  You’ll get the answer you want, instantly.

Product Offers Vs. Information
What’s the best way to your customer’s hearts – a good bargain, or some plain ol’ advice (with a dose of product information)?  Assign a tag to direct product offers and another to informative articles with product mentions (just like this article).  This way, you can start to learn which approach you should take with your subscribers.  Not everyone will jump at your FREE! or 50% discount offers.  But here’s what we like to say at eConnect Email: You won’t know it until you tag it.

Brands & Sponsors
If your email contains links to several in-house brands or product categories, you can tag them to find out which brands or products are winning in the popularity stakes.  And if your email contains links to partner or advertiser sites, tag these links to find out if your campaign is working hard for its money by driving traffic to other sites.

Here’s where we can almost hear some of you thinking, “Great! I can’t wait to run out and tag my next campaign”.  But get this: Tags are not restricted to single campaigns; you can put similar tags across as many campaigns as you like and view stats for a series of campaigns.  What this means is that the reports you generate are based on information and trends over a period of time, and not just a single occurrence.  Think of it as repeating a survey over and over again with the same target audience – you’ll get results so accurate you can practically predict their next move.

We’d like to leave you with a couple more tips before we set you loose on a tag attack. First,  you can add any number of new tags to any campaign, any time you wish.  Just return to the campaign (or campaigns) of your choice and tag away; you’ll be able to access new data across all the campaigns containing your new tags.

Second, we’ve included tag stats in your reports so you can view them easily, and we’ve gone further by including them under each subscriber’s individual report.  By looking at each subscriber’s Top 5 tags, you’ll know at a glance what topics, products or services your subscribers are interested in.

And finally, we’ve integrated tagging into our Smart Lists, allowing you to easily generate lists of subscribers who are interested in certain tags.  Say you’re a coffee marketer – you could enter “Brazilian Coffee” into a search field and get a list of subscribers who’ve displayed interest in Brazilian coffee by clicking on related links.  Life as an e-marketer doesn’t get much better than this.

Well, this is where we get off our soapbox.  What we’ve talked about is just the tip of the iceberg, and we’re sure you’ll think of tagging ideas that have never even crossed our minds.  If you’d like to share them with us and other eConnect Email users, post your comment below.  We’d love to hear from you.

About James Trumbly:
Director of Business Development for eConnect Email, an email marketing software company. James enjoys spending time at the beach and traveling in his free time. Follow him on twitter @eConnectEmail