Suppose you were sending an email – how would you track who opened your email?


A lot of companies (like Groupon) send out mass emails to people who they want to buy their products. It’s safe to say that they would like to be able to see what percentage of people actually open those emails – and which types of emails are the most effective in their campaigns.

Tracking “opens” in HTML emails

If you want to track an “open” in an HTML email, you would embed a tiny, 1×1 pixel .GIF at the bottom of the email message. This image is also known as a “web beacon” or a “tracker image”. In reality, most people don’t use a 1×1 size pixel, because a lot of anti-virus packages will block that GIF size since they know that it’s a tracker image.

So, what would count as an open?

When your recipient opens his or her email, the tracker image is downloaded from your server, and this download is then counted as an ‘open’ . A lot of people will say that you can’t track opens unless it’s an HTML email, which means that tracking open emails is not an exact science. But, that is true only to a certain extent. Check out the next article to see how tracking is done in plain text emails.

What if I disable the images in my email?

By default, gmail disables images for emails sent by people who are not on your ‘whitelist’ – your list of trusted senders. So, the only way to track emails with images disabled (assuming the sender doesn’t enable the images) is to track what people click on inside those emails.

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