I started noticing large amounts of referral traffic from "Other Websites" and when I dug into the traffic I found out it is from email blasts we've paid for. The referring websites (e.g. mgclicks.com, take5tracking.com) are not the name of the vendors we paid to run these email blasts. When I looked at the test emails from this email-vendor the links on the emails goes to our website and do not show as a redirect link.
Does anyone know why an email vendor would use a redirect like this or why AA is showing this as referral from Other Websites instead of email? The traffic is also a little iffy (e.g. 80,000 page views with 1 lead). Are email vendors using redirects to get around privacy/tracking issues as of late?
I think every email-vendor has his own system of how to track the clicks. As far as I have seen (just a few vendors), they either use redirects or parallel tracking.
"redirect tracking": the link in the email goes to a tracking server which will redirect to final URL
"parallel tracking" as soon as somebody clicks on a link, a "parallel call" to the tracking server is triggered. the user itself will be lead to the final URL. as far as I know this only works in clinets where JS (or similar) is enabled (apps...)
as far as I can read out of your information, I think your provider uses a redirect (but why do you see final URL in testmail?).
and I think you are looking at the dimension "referrer type" where you won't see a "email" unless it's a domain such as "email:" (which I haven't see lately in my data).
I would recommend you use tracking codes to track the referrer and add an appropriate rule to the marketing channels which classifies this traffic as "email campaings" (or something similar). having both a tracking code and the marketing channels allows you to make great segments and figure out exact data on the traffic.
Seconded to Urs's recommendation to use tracking codes (in the form of query string parameters). You could even customize your implementation to override the Analytics referrer variable when the query string is present (totally optional, though).