Removal of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from Litmus Email Analytics

With expanding regulatory requirements for proper data management, we are making updates to the information we collect via Litmus Email Analytics tracking codes to help safeguard data and protect valuable subscriber trust.

If you exported data from Litmus Email Analytics between July 2020 and February 25, 2021, the following changes will be put in place to ensure future tracking codes do not contain personally identifiable information (PII).  For all other accounts, these changes have already been introduced. 

What is changing?

Litmus is revising the recipient data points stored on behalf of our customers. Instead of capturing recipient email addresses via our tracking codes, we’ll offer the option to capture another identifier such as a recipient ID provided by your email service provider (ESP). There will be no changes to the insights provided within Litmus. However, any CSV or FTP exports will be able to contain the unique identifier for the subscriber in place of their email address. The update will only be visible when exporting individual-level data files and attempting to consume the data captured within the "email address" field  (column b) of those files.

How are tracking codes changing?

Tracking codes created and implemented within an email before November 1, 2021:

  • Tracking codes that have already been implemented into emails before November 1, 2021  will continue to collect data in the same way they always have until their expiration date.
  • The actual tracking code source HTML stored in Litmus will no longer contain the email address merge tag in the ‘d’ parameter (it will be replaced with the placeholder of ‘[UNIQUE]’). 
  • Any custom parameters (appearing at the "t" parameter in the actual tracking code) will continue to be captured and displayed in data export files.

Tracking codes created before November 1, 2021 but placed in an email after November 1, 2021:

  • The actual tracking code source HTML stored in Litmus will no longer contain the email address merge tag in the ‘d’ parameter (it will be replaced with the generic placeholder of ‘[UNIQUE]’). This means that neither recipient email addresses nor unique subscriber IDs will be captured by the tracking code, and therefore will not appear in the CSV data file. We recommend that you create new tracking codes to continue to have the option to export data that can be attributed to individual subscribers moving forward. 
  • Any custom parameters (appearing at the "t" parameter in the actual tracking code) will continue to be captured and displayed in data export files.

Tracking codes created after November 1, 2021:

  • These will be PII-free tracking codes; they will not contain any subscriber email addresses.
  • There will be a new parameter within the tracking code (the "i" parameter) that will support capturing contact IDs for each recipient that engages with the email. 
  • For some ESPs, Litmus will provide a relevant merge tag to facilitate capturing a PII-free ID/reference for recipients. If your ESP merge tag does not auto-populate, you will have the opportunity to add your own to facilitate capturing this recipient identifier.
  • Any custom parameters (appearing at the "t" parameter in the actual tracking code) will continue to be captured and displayed in data export files unless we detect email addresses, in which case that data will be scrubbed.


Changes to the tracking code creation process

The only change will occur at the point you have the option to select your ESP:

  • If you select an ESP we have the universal PII-free merge tag for, we will automatically populate it into the tracking code upon creation. This will allow the recipient ID (as defined by the ESP) to be captured and visible in data exports.
  • If you select an ESP we don’t have the universal PII-free merge tag for, you will have the opportunity to add a PII-free merge tag of your choice.

NOTE: If a bespoke merge tag for tracking codes has been set for the account within Litmus Settings → Account, it will also need to be capturing PII complaint information (e.g. not recipient email addresses) from November 1, 2021. Any bespoke email-address-based merge tags added to new tracking codes after this time will trigger any corresponding data to not be collected. 


Changes to Data Exports

Data export files for tracking codes created and implemented in email before November 1, 2021 will be unchanged.

Data export files for tracking codes created before November 1, 2021 and used in an email after November 1, 2021 will be largely unchanged. The only difference will be that no data will appear in the ‘email address’ column of the exported CSV file.

Data export files for tracking codes created after November 1, 2021will not have an ‘email address’ column in the CSV file. There will be a new column at the end of the CSV file called ‘custom ID’. This column will display captured PII-free unique recipient identifiers, should a supported ESP have been selected or an appropriate merge tag have been added during the tracking code creation flow.  It is these identifiers that will allow you to attribute data back to an individual recipient.

Additional resources

What is a merge tag?

What merge tag does Email Analytics use for my ESP?

What data fields are reported in individual-level tracking CSV exports?

Using a campaign code or custom parameter in Analytics reports

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