Emailing is the basic way of corresponding in the 21st century and while there are a couple of good serving engines out there, including Yahoo, Outlook and Hotmail, we tend to believe that Gmail is the best all-around option for personal use, that’s why most of these email tracking services are meant for Google’s email service. But there are plenty for those that have chosen to be faithful to other services.
While emails are usually sent between students and teachers, friends, or family, sometimes important relations bound and cases are born where you must know when an email has been sent. Today, we will take a look over the best email tracking tools that we could find and explain how you can be notified your emails are read.
How to track emails
There are more ways to skin a cat and the first one we will approach today is the official option. While Google Mail is the perfect option for personal use, the search-engine giant has embedded a tracking feature only for business use. Therefore, to automatically receive reading receipts from Google itself you will have to sign up for an Apps for Business account, which will set you back around $5 per month with a free trial promotion.
While reading receipts is the obvious advantage for our purpose, Google Apps for business includes a couple more features which may prove worthy for someone truly involved. After signing up for an account, receive receipts can be asked for mails within your organization or, between external systems like Outlook. Now here’s how to track read Gmail messages:
- We will first have to enable receipts for the whole domain, and this can be done by navigating to Google Apps -> Email – Settings.
- Now go to the email read receipts section and tick the last radio box, saying to allow read receipts to be sent to any email address.
- Open a casual Compose window.
- Underneath the recipient field, tick the “Request read receipt” box, just like in the picture above.
- Complete the rest of the fields as usual and send the email.
- When the email recipient reads the message, a Google pop-up like below will appear. From point on, it lies on the recipient to send a notification or not.
- If a receipt has been sent back, the originally sent message will be automatically update with the exact date and hour when the email was read.
RightInbox is a tweak applied to the original Google Mail Inbox, which customizes the interface a bit and adds several interesting features, including an easy tracking feature. The service also allows users to send delayed emails using a simple scheduling function and comes with an email reminding alarm which will prompt users of important messages. Moreover, RightInbox can track click on links inserted in messages and even more.
The service is free of use but limits its benefits to 10 messages a month, those wishing full access being resorted to pay around $5 per month. Here’s how to track Gmail messages using RightInbox:
- Sign up for a RightInbox account and install the extension.
- Open the Gmail Compose window and complete all the fields as in a usual message.
- Tick the “Track” box as shown above and send the email.
- When recipients open the message, you will receive an additional email with related information.
WhoReadMe is a free online email tracking service specialized at doing one job, and one job only. It works by embedding a transparent tracking image with a unique identification number inside the email, which I consider being a non-abusive method. The recipient will not notice and the email body will be left untouched. Here’s how to do it:
- Register a free account on the official website.
- Write the email as usual, but leave the recipient field untouched.
- Add the recipient address with the “.whoreadme.com” suffix, like this: email@example.com
- When the addresser reads the message, the sender receives a notification email containing the exact date of reading, the location of access and when were attachments downloaded.
The service can also extend to a certain length, allowing people to receive those notifications via Twitter and other services like that. Unfortunately, WhoReadMe is limited for 20 emails, a day.
A similar alternative is GetNotify, which functions following the same principle, a couple more limitations but free accounts can enjoy intensive analytic functions, such as geographical location, using own images as tracking hooks, link tracking, email delivery confirmation and many others.
Although an unfortunate choice of name, Bananatag is probably the best tool to track email messages. It relies on a extension to complete its work and it’s also compliant with several mail clients, including Outlook, Google Mail and others. For each of these services users have to install a different package but, at the end of the day, the job is done quite nicely.
Feature wise, Bananatag can easily tag emails for tracking purposes and analyze various data in a central dashboard, located also in the Google Mail panel, for example. After messages have been sent, you can check the analytics tool in which Bananatag displays information about the opening status, links clicked within the message, the medium from which the email was access and even more. Also, notifications can be received if users wish so.
Here’s how to use the system:
- Install the appropriate extension by checking the services page.
- Navigate to Gmail and press the Compose button.
- Write the email as usual and instead of sending the message using the usual Send button, click on Tag instead (this will send the email with some tracking magic within).
- Analyze all the data by clicking on the Bananatag button, in the upper Gmail section.
Sadly, this solution is also limited to five emails a day, for free users. The Pro package extends that reach to almost 100, for $5 a month.
- Link tracking – find a workaround by embedding a short, trackable URL towards something of note. For instance, force the recipient to click this link by integrating relevant information, such as details about a company a stuff like that. Afterwards, check if the link has been clicked with the help of embedded tracking tools such as Goo.gl. and Bit.ly
- Use tracking images – services like SpyPig allow users to insert a specific, smiley-like image in emails which will be used as a tracking object. The adding process is rather simple, users only have to complete a couple of steps and when people read emails, senders will receive other interesting details, like the IP address of the recipient and the exactly how many time was the email read. Unfortunately, it looks a bit unprofessional.
- Boomerang – a service of similarity with those mentioned above, Boomerang allows users to be notified when a Google email has been read through the use of tagging, in a fashion similar to Bananatag, including limitations but sparing on the wide feature range.