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

Posted by Anastasia Kryzhanovska on June 17, 2020

Email Tracking
Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on June 17, 2020

Email wins the spotlight when it comes to business communication. According to Twilio’s survey of 2,500 global consumers, 83% prefer businesses to reach out to them by email. It’s understandable — you don’t need to spare time 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 wait. And what are you waiting for? Can you tell if someone read your email to plan your next step? The good news is that you can. 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 a person has opened it — with the help of a tool, of course. For a business, this allows for making 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 software that has this feature or a dedicated email tracking app will tag an email with a tracking pixel that can detect when it was opened by a recipient. Some apps can also tag links or banners inside an email.

Why Would You Need to Track Email?

It may be very useful for both personal and business communication. Imagine 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, cases like that extend to work and business communication. Let’s explore a few reasons for monitoring some of your emails.

1. Having 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 recruiter for this company read the email. Otherwise, it’s a guessing game — did they read and not like your offer or are they on vacation and forgot to set up automatic replies?

There’s more to it than simply knowing if the recipient received and read the message. You’ll also know if you managed to attract someone’s attention with your subject line and the email itself.

2. Saving 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. Having insight

If you use your email for sending newsletters and other kinds of promo materials, 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 count the average time of day at which they open your emails or how many people read them regularly.

4. Learning to write better emails

It’s simple — if people don’t open your email, it might have to do with your subject lines. They might not be eye-catching enough or a word in it 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 because you don’t have a professional signature. Try sending different types of messages and see which one gets a better response.

How to Track Your Emails Using Mailbird?

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

Benefits of email tracking in Mailbird

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

EmailTracking in Mailbird

  • It works for all email providers. Not depending on which email provider and app are your recipients using, the feature will fork for you in Mailbird. 
  • 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.
  • Any personal data stays private (including location, personal data, email data, etc). Mailbird only tracks time when an email was opened. 
  • You can keep your actions untracked. If you don’t want your email to be tracked, simply do the following:
    • Go the 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 a feature like that in your email client, as you don’t need to install yet another app and learn how to use it.

How to track email in Mailbird

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

  1. Activate the feature on an email you want to track. The feature shows up as a double-check mark beside the Send button. When it’s enabled, the double-check mark in the icon turns green and gets a background color.

Email tracking in Mailbird - feature activation

  1. Check the email tracking details in the conversation lists. A tracked email 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.
  2. See which participant has read the message. If you open the tagged email and hover over the email tracking icon, it will show a list of recipients with the dates they opened the message or a Pending status if they haven’t.
  3. Turn on a default option for email tracking in settings. 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 tracking per month.

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How to Use Monitored Email Activity in Growing Businesses

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

If you decide to proceed with email tracking, it’s time to activate an email tracker and test it. You can create a separate folder for tracked messages or add it to Starred, so you can check such emails 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.

A lot of people might be doing the same to your emails if you copy-paste the same text when reaching out to a new prospect. Templates save time, of course, but if you wish to continue using them, try adding a personal touch. Add a person’s or a company’s name, instead of “To whom it may concern,” and drop a few words on why they grasped your attention.

Step 2. Send a relevant follow up.

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

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

Step 3. Weed your emailing list.

Aside from crossing out people who outright told you they are not interested, weeding your mailing list has a lot to do with timing and who your prospects are. So, for example, if it is a person with a lot of responsibilities at work or at home, it might take them a few days just to get to reading your email. If it’s someone who doesn’t use email often, it might take longer than that. Another factor is time on vacation or a business trip. 

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

Step 4. Improve your email open rate.

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

It’s easier to count 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 more people open your emails, the higher the likelihood that more people will take the target action. You should also take into account that not all people who open your emails will read them to the end or take the desired action. So, out of those 25 people who have 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 on how to do that:

  • 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. It’s no good if your emails go straight into 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). But you should also make it light, short, relevant, and readable. There are tools that check subject lines for quality of copy and spam.
  • 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 more 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 on our blog, and the main takeaway is that 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 in many aspects. Starting with a simple insight that a colleague or friend opens your email, email tracking stats also prove useful in email marketing campaigns. You can find out how well you draft your emails, attract attention with them, and count the open rate.

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

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Anastasia Kryzhanovska

Anastasia Kryzhanovska
Senior Content Manager

Published on June 17, 2020

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