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Tracking if email is opened?

How to do it?

     
2:33 pm on Sep 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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HEllo everybody..

I want to know when a user open his newsletter E-Mail.. so i was thinkin how to do that..

so i thought i can do it by putting javascript in the email that call a php file xmlhttprequest code to update a row in DB and set 'yes' for opend assuming all that will happen without the user feel anything.

so is that the way to go? or there is simpler way?

Thanks in advance

3:08 pm on Sept 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Could you not simply place an image in the email, and make its URL some_image.jpg?john.smith@example.com or similar? That way you can pull users from your access logs.

Tracking email though is notoriously hard, and many people won't even view images in email, let alone have a JavaScript-enabled mail client as you suggest (obvious example: webmail).

J.

6:28 pm on Sept 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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j4mes wrote:
Could you not simply place an image in the email, and make its URL some_image.jpg?john.smith@example.com or similar? That way you can pull users from your access logs.

Yes, one could do that. But since spammers use this tactic all the time (to confirm valid e-mail addresses, which are then sold at a premium), more and more people are guarding against such activity.

smagdy wrote:

I want to know when a user open his newsletter E-Mail.

Why do you want to do this?

Eliz.

6:34 pm on Sept 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Because sometime users submit wrong email adress.. so if they never open specific adress for specific time i want to remove the email..

and for other reasons.. its not just for newsletter but its also for curiosity..

8:24 pm on Sept 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

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While such "tracking" may be interesting for the sender, the receipient may see this slightly different.

... more and more people are guarding against such activity.

Yes. And furthermore -- depending on the targeted audience -- it may generally be contraproductive to send mail in HTML format, which would be necessary to implement a "tracking" mechanism.

There are still oldfashioned people around -- this poster included -- who open mails in pure text mode only (which is not just old habits, but a very basic and mostly efficient way of avoiding any sort of scripting attacks, like getting worms or getting controlled if a mail has been read, too).
In text mode, however, it is annoying to wade through a cluttered mess of <xTML> tags and not seeing the content easily, which imposes a high risk for a mail getting moved to the trash bin before being read to its end.

And on top of that, the receipient's annoyance may increase (= even more quick disposing to the trash bin) on spotting any of the Big Brother's control measures like "img src=some_image.jpg?john.smith@example.com" or similar.
While it may be only a neglectable minority, who dislike their mail reading habits being controlled this rude way, they exist ...

So, all in all, "tracking" an email seems not always to be welcome, but may be contraproductive, as it adds to the annoyance level on the receiver side and may consequently hurt the reputation and trustworthyness of the sender.

Regards,
R.

9:08 pm on Sept 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is anecdotal, but I remember one of the creators of email being interviewed once about why there is not a return receipt in the original Internet email protocol.

He reply was something like:

1) If they receive the email, there is no guarantee that they open it.

2) If they open it, there is no guarantee that they read it.

3) If they read it, there is no guarantee that that comprehend it.

So the only way to tell if someone opened, read and comprehended your email is by their reply.

Therefore, if you do not get the result you expected from your email, then you need to try again, perhaps via different avenues of communication.

2:14 pm on Sept 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Thanks but i still want to do it even if i wont use it.. just for the love of programming it ;)
2:49 pm on Sept 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Striclty speaking you would have to code something that would get past the fact that they may open their mail when not connected and therefore you would wish for their machine to tell you the next time thet they connected that the mail had been opened ..

What you need to code would then have to get past their outgoing firewall settings in order to tell you this ..

So you would need to write a trojan that phoned home ...

This could get you into trouble ..and there is enough of this stuff out there anyway ..

However gator may still be hiring ...;)

rjonas

9:18 pm on Oct 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It is important to see if the subject line of the email catches your reader's eye. If one subject line catches the eye of 20% of readers, and another catches the eye of 10% of readers, then twice as many people will ultimately buy your product as a result of the first subject line.

I would suggest sending out a pilot of any email to one random sample group of about 50 people with one subject line with the tracking, and another to a different sample with a different subject line. Open rates can be tracked - you should get statistics quickly, and any differences can be noted. You can then send out the email to everyone else without the tracking (possibly in plain text) and you should get a better response rate.