Email Tracking: The Master Guide
Email Tracking: The Master Guide
/ Last updated:
March 11, 2021
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How many times have you wondered what happened to an email after you sent it? Did the recipient receive your email? Did they open it? You simply don’t know.

Well, you can know that, with an email tracker app. In this guide, we'll see exactly how the technology behind email tracking works and how you can benefit from it.

Specifically, we’ll cover the following:

  1. What is email tracking?
  2. Main benefits of email trackers
  3. Practical applications of email tracking
  4. Recommended email tracking app for Gmail
  5. Getting the most from pixel trackers

What Is Email Tracking?

Here’s the speed-read version:

  • Email tracking notifies you when someone opens your email
  • It is different to read receipts as it happens immediately and without interrupting the recipient
  • The technology is similar to that used in email marketing applications

Email tracking tells you when an email recipient opens and reads your message. It works by adding a web beacon to the emails you send. This is usually a very small image pixel. It is invisible and doesn't impact or restrict the recipient in any way. In the vast majority of cases, the recipient won’t even know the web beacon is there. Once the person opens your email, the web beacon reports back and you get a notification.

email tracking notiifcation

What’s the difference between email tracking and traditional read receipts?

There are several differences between email tracking and traditional read receipts, actually. Email tracking works silently and in the background, so it doesn’t get in the way or hassle the recipient of your email. A traditional read receipt, on the other hand, is annoying. How many times have you frustratingly clicked no when asked if you want to send one back? Most people click no, not because they don’t want the sender to know they have read the email, but because they are annoyed at the interruption. So, a read receipt interrupts the recipient to ask them if it is okay to send a message back to the sender letting them know the email is read.

Email tracking, on the other hand, works immediately, seamlessly, and without annoying either the recipient or you, the sender.

The Technology

As already mentioned, it is also similar to the technology used by email marketing applications that are able to tell you open rates and click-through rates from your newsletters and email campaigns. Despite this, it is not used in day-to-day email very often. Most of the commonly used email providers, including Gmail, do not offer it as a feature. If you want the benefits that email tracking brings, you have to use a third-party application or software.

The way this is delivered varies according to the third-party provider, but the best advice is to use one that doesn’t require a change in email address or the addition of a CC address. The best email tracking tools easily plug into your existing email platform, and you continue using it as normal.

This is what Gmelius does with Gmail – you simply enable Gmelius in your browser, and email tracking is available.

Main Benefits of Email Tracking

  • Make more sales
  • Save time
  • Become more efficient
  • Improve communication and levels of engagement

Why would you want to track the emails you send?

Email tracking brings many benefits. At the top of the list is making you more efficient. If you are in business, that translates to better management and more sales. That’s right, email tracking can help you close more deals. Here’s an example:

You have a customer that you’re trying to close a deal with and have sent her your latest proposal by email. Normally, the next stage in the process would be a follow-up phone call. When should you make that phone call, though? Usually, you use some educated guesswork to determine the best time.

When you do finally call, early in the conversation you have to use that line again:

“So, have you read the email I sent you?”

With email tracking, this scenario plays out completely differently. Instead of waiting for an arbitrary amount of time before making your follow-up phone call, you wait until you see a notification that tells you the person has opened your email. Then you make the follow-up call – immediately if possible, as you are front of mind with the customer.

Instead of asking the dreaded question above, you will probably instead hear them tell you how good your timing was as they have just been reading your email!

Tangible Improvements

Here are some other ways email tracking can improve your business:

  • Makes the management of teams and employees more efficient
  • Saves time as people can follow-up when it is going to be most effective
  • Gives you an indication of engagement levels among employees, customers, suppliers, colleagues, peers, and others
  • Improves communication, much in the same way you tweak your mass emails to improvement open rates and click-throughs
  • Stops you being a nuisance to prospects who are not interested, and saves your energy as you can focus on those more likely to say yes

You can get all of these benefits with no effort as there is nothing to integrate, and no training required: once you enable email tracking, it simply works.

Practical Applications

To give you an understanding of the power of email tracking, here are some examples of how it is currently being used.

Email Tracking for Sales and Marketing

We have already outlined one example, but there are many others. This includes using email tracking in the lead qualification process, i.e. you send out 30 cold emails to potential customers and then focus your follow-up efforts on those who opened them.

You can also improve your upselling and cross-selling efforts with existing customers. You might even find that a recipient will open your email weeks or even months after you send it. This is a prompt for you to get back in touch with them as they are likely to be looking for a solution that you can provide.

Email Tracking for Management

Email tracking helps managers too as they know when important emails are read by members of their team. This includes rotas, memos, important notices, meeting requests, and more.

Better Transparency for Teams

Teams can also benefit from email tracking as it enhances collaboration. With email tracking in place, members of the team can check if everyone is up-to-date on issues and the progress of the project.

Peace of Mind When Meeting Deadlines

Email tracking also offers peace of mind when you have to meet a deadline. This could be submitting a tender or business proposal. It could also be submitting completed work, a job application, or an assignment at college or school. When the email is tracked, the notification will give you confirmation that it has arrived.

Track Important Documents

Email tracking is also useful when sending important documents as you know when the recipient has received them. This has applications in a number of fields including business, education, legal, accounting, and more.

The #1 Recommended Email Tracking App for Gmail:  Gmelius

The first step is to download Gmelius. It offers unlimited email tracking for free. In Gmelius, the email tracking feature is called read receipt, and the functionality is activated by default under your Dashboard.

When you want to know if a particular email will be opened, click on the check-marks icon next to the Send button. As soon as your email is opened, you'll receive a notification in your Inbox.

Email Tracking

You can see a summary of all of your tracked emails in your sent folder.

Team Pulse Email Tracking

In emails that have been opened, a green check icon appears next to the name of the recipient. By hovering your mouse cursor over the icon, you can see when and how often a particular email was opened.


Email tracking is a powerful tool that will make emailing much more effective, but there are two main limitations:

  • Hidden images – as mentioned at the start of this guide, the web beacon or pixel tracker that sends the notification when your email is opened is an image. Most email clients load images by default, but some don’t. If your recipient opens the email on a service that doesn’t load images automatically, the web beacon won’t be loaded either, so you won’t get a notification.
  • Plain text – some people choose to operate their email in plain text mode. Again, this is not very common, but when it does happen, email tracking won’t work.

Your Objectives

How you use email tracking depends on your objectives. You will get much more from it if you have a clear strategy in place. This could be something simple, like having the peace of mind that the recipient has seen your email. It can also be more practical and active, such as in the sales process when you will probably want to call the recipient as close to the time they open the email as possible.

You now know all there is to know about email tracking and why you should consider using Gmelius to know when the email you send gets read so that you can close more sales.

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