“Did They Open My Email?” All You Ever Wanted to Know About Email Tracking

Posted by Anastasia Kryzhanovska on August 23, 2020

All you ever wanted to know about email tracking
Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on August 23, 2020

Email wins the spotlight when it comes to business communication. According to Twilio’s survey of 2,500 global consumers, 83% prefer that businesses reach out to them by email. That’s understandable — you don’t need to be available if a company reaches out while you’re busy, or make any decisions on the spot.

Right. So you send a few emails and wait. And what are you waiting for?  With email tracking, the good news is that you can tell if someone has read your email, so you can plan your next step. Let’s see how it  works.

What Is Email Tracking and How Does It Work?

Email tracking means checking a sent email to see if someone has opened it — with the help of email tracking tools, of course. For a business, this makes for informed decisions, such as when is a more appropriate time for sending emails or follow-ups or which kind of subject line results in more emails opened.

Email apps that have this feature, or a dedicated email tracking app, will tag an email with a tracking pixel that can detect when the email was opened by a recipient. Some email tracking apps can also tag links or banners inside an email.

Why Track Email?

Tracking email can be very useful for both personal and business communication. Suppose you’ve sent an email to a group of friends, with details about your upcoming meetup. We all have that friend who never reads emails, but others might have missed it as well. With a tagged email, you’ll know which friend to call and remind to blow the dust off their inbox.

On a more serious note, similar cases extend to work and business communication. Let’s explore a few reasons for monitoring some of your emails.

1. To have context

Let’s say you want to work at a particular company, so you send an email with your CV and cover letter. You’d want to know if the company recruiter read the email. Otherwise, it’s a guessing game — did they read it and not like your offer, or are they on vacation and forgot to set up an automatic reply?

There’s more to it than simply knowing whether the recipient received and read the message, since you can do that with any email read tracking software. You would also discover whether you were able to attract someone’s attention with your subject line and the email itself.

2. To save time

Having data on an email’s activity also tells you if it’s appropriate to follow up. If you see that a recipient has opened and likely even read the email, you can follow up with additional info; otherwise, it wouldn’t be appropriate as they don’t know what you’re talking about yet. You can follow up with a reminder instead.

3. To gain insight

If you use your email for sending newsletters and other kinds of promotional material, email tracking can provide analytical information. If you see one or several recipients opening your emails consistently at a certain time, you can adjust the time at which you send the mail accordingly. For group emails, you can estimate the average time of day at which your emails are opened and how many people read them regularly.

4. To learn to write better emails

It’s simple — if people don’t open your emails, it might have something to do with your subject lines. They might not be eye-catching enough, or they include a word that triggers a spam filter. If people do open your emails but don’t act, the problem may be in the way you formulate your offers, or maybe, you don’t have a professional signature. Try sending different types of messages and see which ones get a better response.

How to Track Your Emails Using Mailbird

Mailbird is a powerful email client for Windows with which you can manage all your email accounts easily. It has many features and integrations for time efficiency and productivity. Recently, we’ve launched the real-time email tracking feature to boost the performance of your email communications.

Benefits of email tracking with Mailbird

  • It will let you know when and by whom your email was opened. You get a list of recipients with their open statuses and either a date or “Pending” if they haven’t opened the email.

Email tracking with Mailbrid

  • It works for all email addresses and providers. Not dependent on which email provider and app your recipients are using, Mailbird’s tracking feature will work for you. 
  • It works for group emails. Unlike other email tracking software and extensions that show only the number of people who have opened your email, Mailbird tracks each recipient individually.
  • Personal data stays private (including location, email data, etc). Mailbird only tracks the time when an email was opened. 
  • You can keep your actions untracked. If you don’t want your email to be tracked, do the following:
    • Go to the Settings menu > Appearances.
    • Find “Always show remote images” in the messages section.
    • Disable it.
  • It’s a built-in tool, not an additional app. It’s handy to have such a feature in your email client as you don’t need to install yet another app and learn how to use it.

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How to track email in Mailbird

Email tracking is an awesome addition to anyone’s toolset, but how do you use it? Let’s go over the process step by step, using the best email tracking tool:

  1. Activate the feature on an email you want to track. The tracking feature appears as a double check mark next to the Send button. When it’s enabled, the double check mark turns green and acquires a background color.Email tracking tool
  2. Check the email tracking details in the conversation lists. Tracked emails will have the same double-check icon on the conversations list. If you hover on the icon, it will show an opened and pending status counter.
  3. See which email address has read the message. If you open the tagged email and hover over the email read tracking icon, you will see a list of recipients with the dates on which they opened the message, or a Pending status if they haven’t.
  4. In settings, turn on the default option for email tracking. If you decide to track all email, you can do that by enabling the default function in Settings: Composing>Email Tracking.

Tracking limitations

Email tracking is available in the Mailbird Business version for exchange accounts. Unlike the business version, the personal license can only offer a limited number of trackings per month.

How to Use Monitored Email Activity in a Growing Business

We understand that some people feel uncomfortable about email tracking and may use tools to see which companies monitor them and block such attempts. So, before you start tracking anyemails, be aware that it might get a negative response, and you can decide whether or not you really want to monitor activity on your emails.

If you choose to use email tracking, you’re ready to activate the best email tracker and test it. You can create a separate folder for tracked emails or add them to Starred, so you can refer to them from time to time.

Step 1. Create a personalized email to start a conversation that is about them, not you.

Imagine you have received yet another run-of-the-mill email and probably sent it right into the spam folder. How annoying!

People may be doing the same with your emails if you tend to copy-paste the same text when reaching out to new prospects. Templates save time, of course, but if you must use them, try adding a personal touch. Add a person or company’s name, instead of “To whom it may concern,” and say a few words about why they grabbed your attention.

Step 2. Send a relevant follow up.

If the best email tracker shows that your prospect hasn’t opened your email, you can send a friendly reminder, telling them to check your offer, especially if it’s timed.

If they did open your email but haven’t replied, you can send additional information on the matter or send a discount code. It depends on the context of the previous message — be creative, but don’t clutter their inbox.

Step 3. Weed your mailing list.

Aside from removing people who have told you outright that they are not interested, weeding your mailing list depends significantly on timing and who your prospects are. For example, if a prospect has a lot of responsibilities at work or at home, it might take them a few days to get around to reading your email. If it’s someone who doesn’t use email often, it might take longer than that. Another factor is time taken to go on a vacation or business trip. 

Suppose there’s a 14- to 20-day window between your sending an email and the other person opening it, plus some time to respond. Then, if you don’t get a reply within a month, it’s a good sign you should let the contact go. There’s no use annoying that person if you’re wasting your own time.

Step 4. Improve your email open rate.

Email open rate is a percentage of how many emails on a particular campaign were opened. It indirectly shows how well you were able to capture the attention of the people on the receiving end of your campaign.

The open rate is easier to calculate in group emails than those individually sent, but it’s still possible:

“If you send an email to 50 people and 25 open it, your open rate is 50%, and you’re winning.”

According to IBM’s benchmark compilation of 750 companies in forty countries, the average unique open rate is just about 23%.

Why does the open rate matter? If you think of marketing emails as a funnel — the greater the number of people who open your emails, the higher the likelihood that they will take the target action. Also, you should take into account that not everyone who opens your email will read it entirely or take the desired action. So, out of those 25 people who opened the email, only five of them might become leads, hypothetically.

Want to get more leads? Increasing your open rate is a good start. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Segment your mailing list. This allows for more targeted email campaigns, and it’s a way to personalize group emails — you can’t (or shouldn’t, anyway) mention recipients’ names in a group email, but you can tailor your offer to a particular segment’s interest.
  • Test subject lines. You don’t want your emails to go straight to spam, so check that the subject doesn’t have trigger words such as “get” or “please read” (here’s an A to Z of words that can trip off a spam filter). You should make it light, short, relevant, and readable.
  • Send prospect emails on a Tuesday. A benchmark report by Get Response shows that Tuesdays are responsible for 17% of average opens. But also look at what your figures tell you based on email tracking experience.

And a couple more tips to make sure people read your email and act on it:

  • Make the email content mobile-friendly. No matter how big the mobile screen gets, it’s still a lot smaller than your average desktop computer or laptop. Also, take into account that the recipients might be using a slow mobile Internet connection. A mobile-friendly email should be concise and light on images.
  • Add a professional signature. We’ve already covered signatures in our blog, with the main takeaway being —  emails with a professional signature that contains your photo or a banner with your offer do better than ones with a simple farewell at the end.

Wrap Up

Email tracking is a valuable tool for many reasons. Starting with providing a simple insight that a colleague or friend opens your email, email tracking stats also prove useful in email marketing campaigns. You can learn how well you draft your emails and attract attention with them and find out the open rate.

Mailbird Business is equipped with an email tracking feature so you can see if a group or a recipient thereof has opened an email from you. Download Mailbird, or if you’re already using it, try tracking your next promo campaign.

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How can I track an email?

You can track an email with Mailbird. It is an excellent email client for Windows and enables you to track your emails easily. All you need to do is activate the emails you want to track, and the email tracking feature will take care of the rest. 

What is the best email tracker?

Mailbird is the best email tracker. You can easily check the email tracking details in the conversation lists. It has a built-in email tracking feature, and you do not need any additional software to track your emails.

How do you know if an email is being tracked?

With the Show Original message option from your email service, if your message is being tracked, you will see an option to that effect.

Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on August 23, 2020


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