You’re here because you want to start email tracking, and you need to know the best tool for the job. Right?
Well, you’ve come to the right place 😎
I’m going to show you everything you need to know. Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
- What is Email Tracking?
- 7 Best Email Tracking Apps for Gmail & Outlook
- How does Email Tracking Work?
- Tracking Email Opens Using Google Analytics
- Tracking Email Opens Using Gmail Read Receipts
- Tracking Email Opens & Clicks in Outlook
- Email Tracking for Productivity: 7 Essential Metrics
What is Email Tracking?
Email tracking is the process of monitoring actions taken on sent emails. The most common metrics tracked are email opens and email clicks.
Most email tracking tools report on dates & times of events captured, and some report location as well.
Email tracking can serve several important functions. Depending on which tools you use and how you use them, you can use email tracking apps to:
- Determine your team’s workload (and rebalance it)
- Identify unproductive patterns in your own work
- Analyze your sales efforts to see which strategies are most effective
- Track email opens and clicks
7 Best Email Tracking Apps for Gmail & Outlook
Using a third-party app is the easiest way to get started with email tracking in Gmail or Outlook.
After testing each of these, here are my picks for the best email tracking apps.
1. RightInbox (Gmail only)
RightInbox is a Gmail productivity plugin. Along with email open tracking and click tracking, it also gives you easy options to schedule emails to send later, reminders on un-answered emails, recurring emails, sequences, signatures, templates, and much more.
It’s reasonably priced at $7.95/month, and easy to learn and use.
2. MailTracker by Hunter (Gmail only)
MailTracker is a free email tracking tool by Hunter.io, a popular email finder & verifier (and one of the tools that consistently seems to find its way near the top of my rankings of various email-related tools).
It’s a Chrome extension that’s clean and simple. When you send an email, there’ll be a little check-mark next to the “send” button that’s enabled by default.
That means tracking is enabled. You can disable it for any email by toggling it off.
Whenever someone opens your email, you see a notification. Easy peasy.
3. SalesHandy (Gmail & Outlook)
SalesHandy is a free email tracking app that empowers you to track and schedule unlimited emails in Gmail. There is no branded email signature at the end of the email, which isn’t true for most other tools.
SalesHandy sends a real-time desktop notification for every email open and links click. Along with this, you can create and save up to 5 email templates that can be used to send similar emails quickly and easily.
4. Mailtrack (Gmail only)
Mailtrack is a simple app that functions as a plugin for Chrome. It’s free and easy to use, but it only has one core feature: tracking when your emails are opened and clicked.
It puts a checkmark next to any email you’ve sent, and an additional checkmark beside it when your email is opened.
There’s also a pro version that removes the Mailtrack signature and offers reminders and daily reporting.
5. Vocus.io (Gmail only)
Vocus.io is an email tracking tool that offers various features and some unique benefits. It tracks email opens and link clicks, so you know whether your message has been received or not.
It also allows you to create a sequence of soft reminders and follow up emails which you can schedule to be sent as the right time until you get a response.
It also helps find email addresses and is one of our top-rated email lookup tools.
6. Yesware (Gmail & Outlook)
Another tool designed to help salespeople, Yesware integrates with Gmail or Outlook 365 as an extension to help you track what happens to your emails after you send them.
You’ll get to measure and report on factors like email open and reply rates, attachment opens, and even pageviews of your presentations.
7. MixMax (Gmail only)
MixMax bills itself as a Gmail-based productivity app. With it, you’ll be able to track who opens your emails (and when), and follow up with those people efficiently thanks to automatic reminders.
There’s also a handful of other features, like creating polls and surveys, integrating with SalesForce, and setting your emails to send later, so you can use Gmail even more productively.
Bonus: EmailAnalytics (Gmail only, Outlook coming soon)
Our own namesake (#shamelessplug) isn’t like the other email tracking apps on this list. Rather than tracking opens and clicks, EmailAnalytics is an email activity monitoring app for teams.
With it, you’ll get to view a full analysis of important email metrics like how many emails you’ve sent or received, average email response time, who your top senders and recipients are, and what your busiest email times are.
How does Email Tracking Work?
There are three types of email tracking:
1. Open tracking
Email tracking apps automatically place a 1-pixel, invisible image in your outbound emails. When the recipient opens your email, their email client calls the server where the tracking pixel is located in order to load the image.
The server logs the exact moment this call occurs, which is the moment the recipient opened the email.
2. Click tracking
Link click tracking works similarly. Links in emails are automatically changed to a tracking URL that redirects the user to the intended location.
EmailAnalytics Visualizes Your Team's Email Activity
- 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor.
- Following up within an hour increases your chances of success by 7x.
- Salespeople spend an average of 13 hours per week on email.
When the redirect occurs, the server records the event as a click.
3. Activity tracking
Email activity tracking is an entirely different kind of email tracking. Instead of monitoring when recipients open your emails or click your links, you actually track the overall activity of your inbox (or that of your employees).
For example, you can track metrics like the following for each of your employees:
- Number of emails/sent received per day
- Average email response time
- Busiest days of the week
- Busiest times of day
- Top senders & top recipients
Email activity tracking is the newest type of email tracking and is what we do here at EmailAnalytics.
Tracking Email Opens Using Google Analytics
We’ve got a whole guide on how to use Google Analytics to track email opens. Though I wouldn’t recommend it when you could just use one of the third-party apps above and save yourself a bunch of time and frustration 😉
After setting up Google Analytics, you can create a trackable URL, which you can then embed into an image in your email. From there, you’ll be able to track when people open your email.
You can also set up custom URLs to track when people are visiting your site—and see where they’re coming from.
Tracking Email Opens Using Gmail Read Receipts
You can also request a Gmail read receipt, but only if you have a work or school account (ie, G Suite). The Gmail read receipt option is not available for users of the free version of Gmail.
See our guide to Gmail read receipts for an overview on how to set them up.
Tracking Email Opens & Clicks in Outlook
If you use Outlook, you can use one of the Outlook-enabled tools above.
Alternatively, you can enable read receipts. Here’s how to set them up:
- With a message open, click Options.
- Then, in the Tracking group, you can click Request a Delivery Receipt or Request a Read Receipt (or both).
A delivery receipt will tell you the message was delivered successfully. A read receipt will tell you that your recipient has opened your message.
However, this is in the control of the recipient, and they may choose not to send you a read receipt when they open the email.
There is no built-in functionality to track email clicks within Outlook. For that, you can use the Google Analytics trick I outlined in the previous section, or just use a third-party tool from the list above.
Email Tracking for Productivity: 7 Essential Metrics
Email tracking is evolving to include more metrics than just opens and clicks. Using EmailAnalytics, you can visualize and track many more email metrics, such as the ones below:
1. Emails sent and received.
Measuring the number of emails you send and receive tells you how your workload increases or decreases over time.
If you measure this stat for your employees and teammates, you can easily see who’s falling behind and who’s overloaded with work, then rebalance workloads appropriately.
2. Email response time.
Faster email response time is better for business.
35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first, and you’re 700% more likely to close a sale if you respond in under 60 minutes.
There’s no way to track email response time in Gmail, so you’ll need to use a separate email tracking tool like EmailAnalytics.
3. Emails by label.
You’ll also want to track how many emails you’re getting in each of several categories, and how many emails you have in each section of your inbox (such as inbox, trash, or various labels).
4. Popular times and days.
You’ll learn how your email traffic volume changes over time, both in terms of time of day and day of week.
You might find that Monday mornings open the floodgates for email, making it virtually impossible to do anything else, while Friday afternoons are a bit of a lull.
With this knowledge, you can optimize your workflow to take advantage of the least active times (and avoid scheduling things for your busiest times).
5. Top senders and recipients.
It’s also good to learn who your most common senders and recipients are. You may find that some people in your network of contacts require more interaction than others.
If you have a problematic client or teammate, you can talk to them about their ongoing email habits, and hopefully reduce your workload.
6. Hourly traffic breakdown.
What time of day does the bulk of your work happen? See your activity graph over the course of 24-hours. Here’s mine, below!
Looks like I am most productive around 9am, with a slow drop-off throughout the rest of the day.
7. Team email tracking.
If you’re managing a team, you’ll benefit from tracking the email habits of everyone on the team—not just yourself.
It provides the transparency necessary to balance your team’s workload, while providing insight into issues that could compromise your team’s performance.
Having access to these email tracking metrics will make you not just a better manager, but also a more productive professional.
You can get all these metrics, and more, by using EmailAnalytics. Sign up for a free trial today, and see your email stats in less than 60 seconds!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.