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I want to track if clients read my emails.

I need to track it on a single email level, i.e. not just receiving general statistics such as: 25 users opened the newsletter, but to know that client@mydomain.com has read the email about XYZ I sent him.

An Outlook plugin is a big plus.

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Related: superuser.com/questions/244221/… –  random May 30 '11 at 14:09
    
Mephers answer is very good - Just to broaden it; You can do it your self by using an generic web handler, that serves images from your database. When you generate emails, you attach parameters ?img=234id=838 where img is the image and ID is your cusotmer ID. THe nice thing about this is you can also log IP's, times.But it requires allot of dev time. Another catch is- The email MUST download the image, or ANY other content, scripts. Which by default gets blocked now to protect users from spam machines. –  ppumkin Mar 1 '12 at 16:39
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

First, I recommend you reading about "Read Receipts" explained in this Wikipedia page.

Some e-mail applications, such as Microsoft Office Outlook, employ a read-receipt tracking mechanism. The sender selects the receipt request option prior to sending the message, and then upon sending, each recipient has the option of notifying the sender that the message was received and/or read by the recipient.

However, requesting a receipt does not guarantee that you will get one, for several reasons. Very few e-mail applications or services support read receipts, and users can generally disable the functionality if they so wish. Those that do support it aren't necessarily compatible with or capable of recognizing requests from a different e-mail service or application. Generally read receipts are only useful within an organization where all employees/members are using the same email service and application.

Depending on the recipient's mail client and settings, they may be forced to click a notification button before they can move on with their work. Even though it is an opt-in process, a recipient may consider it inconvenient, discourteous, or invasive.

Read receipts are sent back to your Inbox as e-mail messages. Additional technical information, such as who it is from, the e-mail software they use, and the IP addresses of the sender and their e-mail server is available inside the Internet headers of the read receipt.

The technical term for these is MDN - Message Disposition Notifications, and they are requested by inserting one or more of the following lines into the email headers: X-Confirm-Reading-To: Disposition-Notification-To: or Return-Receipt-To:

So, if both the sender and the recipient use Microsoft Outlook with Exchange Server, they can easily request read receipts and get notified when their email is opened by the recipient.

Nevertheless, there is SpyPig.com.

SpyPig is a simple email tracking system that sends you a notification by email when the recipient opens your message.

It works with virtually all modern email programs: Outlook, Eudora, Yahoo Email, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Email and many others. Both you and the recipient must use an HTML email, not plain-text or rich-text email.

SpyPig is FREE! No spam, no virus, no adware, no spyware. You can use it as often as you like, and there's no catch.

A paid alternative to SpyPig is DidTheyReadIt.com.

When you use didtheyreadit, every e-mail that you send is invisibly tracked without alerting the recipient.

But when they read your message, you will immediately receive the following information:

  1. When, exactly, your email was opened.
  2. How long your email remained opened.
  3. Where, geographically, your email was viewed.

The basic version of DidTheyReadIt is free, but is limited to 10 messages. If you want to continue using DidTheyReadIt.com after this, you can buy a subscription.

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Thanks for SpyPig. –  Xavierjazz May 30 '11 at 15:03
    
@Xavierjazz: You're welcome. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar May 30 '11 at 15:22
    
SpyPig is cool! We need something more automated, we can't create new spypig for each email we send. –  Frushko May 30 '11 at 15:35
    
It wouldn't be all that hard to duplicate what SpyPig and DidTheyReadIt do. All it is is an external image link embedded in the email (which also tells you exactly how to block it -- block images). You make the URI for the image distinct and then set up the "image host". The image host uses the URI to determine what message is sent which it logs (including IP), and then returns the same image to the client: a 1px transparent png. –  Bacon Bits May 30 '11 at 16:02
    
Note that most modern email clients (e.g. Mozilla Thunderbird) will not load remote content by default, precisely to stop the kind of tracking that SpyPig and DidTheyReadIt attempt. So even this kind of tracking may not work. –  sleske May 30 '11 at 16:13
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Another alternative to the suggestions above is Zendio.

It seamlessly integrates into MS Outlook and provides all the functionality that SPYpig and DidTheyReadIt do with the additional benefits of not having to send your private emails through someone else's mail server.

With Zendio all your messages remain private because you use your existing ISP. It also provides the following features:

  • Date and Time emails were read and locations of recipient when read took place
  • Historical look up of past reads.
  • Automatically tracks links in messages.
  • Provides trend analysis of when the best time to contact a particular recipients based on prior reads.
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You can mark the email - or even instruct Outlook to do it for all emails - to request a read receipt.

You will get a notification for each email that is read by the receive.

Here is how to do it for the current email in Outlook 2007:

Screenshot

Older versions of Outlook support it as well but I don't have a screenshot.

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Definitely not to be relied on. –  Brad May 30 '11 at 15:14
    
True, but can be sufficient depending on the request –  RonK May 30 '11 at 15:23
    
I'm in sales, need a solution based on conversion pixel –  Frushko May 30 '11 at 15:38
    
So SpyPig seems like the solution for you. –  RonK May 30 '11 at 16:06
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