Back to main menu


Here’s how to track email opens in Gmail with email tracking

Sending email campaigns doesn’t have to feel like you’re throwing darts into a black hole. Email analytics are a great way to determine the health of your ecommerce campaign and if your current email marketing strategy is working. But how do you get these analytics? Simple: Email tracking.



Sending email campaigns doesn’t have to feel like you’re throwing darts into a black hole. Email analytics are a great way to determine the health of your ecommerce campaign and if your current email marketing strategy is working.

But how do you get these analytics? Simple: Email tracking. We’ll explain what email tracking is and how you’ll benefit from it. Then, we’ll discuss how to track messages in Gmail.

What’s email tracking?

Email tracking collects data on how your email performs. Is your email delivered? Do your readers spend a significant amount of time on your emails? Do they click through to your web page? Email tracking software can be part of an email service provider’s (ESP) toolkit, an in-house app-based solution, or an extension on your web browser, like Chrome.

Here’s a list of some things you can track in your emails:

  • The device used to open the email: Do your readers open your messages on a mobile device, tablet, or laptop? How many of them are running Android systems versus iOS?

  • How many people open your email: Email open rates are a key marketing metric to see if email campaigns are working. After all, an email open is the basis behind other metrics like click-through rate and conversion rate.

  • The number of people who click on your links: The click-through rate (CTR) determines if your email content is persuasive enough to encourage your customers to follow your call-to-action (CTA) to your landing page.

  • How long do readers spend on your email: Determining how long your emails are open helps you gauge how much time your readers spend engaging with your content. This gives you insight into whether or not your email content vibes with your audience or if you need to try a different tactic.

  • Where and when your users open your emails: Geo-location is a great way to know your demographic better. After using geo-location and tracking subscribers’ whereabouts, it’s easy to create targeted content based on their location. For instance, if it’s snowing in New York, an email selling flip-flops probably isn’t the best idea.

Of course, we can’t discuss tracking and obtaining data without mentioning data protection laws like the GDPR. These regulations protect your customers from unethical business practices exploiting their personal data. In fact, some major email clients have implemented their own consumer protection functionalities. For example, Apple offers a Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) feature to allow its users to hide their IP addresses. When implementing email tracking, stay within the bounds of data protection laws.

What are the benefits of email tracking?

As you can see, email tracking tools help email marketers gain deep insights into the performance of their email marketing campaigns. Email trackers help marketers measure open rate, click-through rate, click-to-open ratio (CTOR), conversion rate, and engagement rate.

But, email tracking goes beyond these basic insights. Here are some more benefits of email tracking:

  • Email segmentation and personalization: Marketers use email tracking insights to segment their mailing lists and improve email personalization. By reviewing users’ engagement with emails and determining how long they spend with content, marketers determine what content is best for each user. Then, marketers deliver content their users prefer.

  • Monitor deliverability: Everything starts with landing your email into your reader’s inbox. Email tracking helps you determine if your emails are bouncing back or if an email client’s spam filter is flagging your messages.

  • Time your follow-up emails: Improve your marketing strategies by optimizing when to send follow-up emails. Email tracking allows you to determine if your reader has even opened your first email before you send follow-up messages.

What’s Google’s image policy, and how’s it important for email tracking in Gmail?

Google’s image policy Gmail caches images on its servers. Since ESPs and email marketers often track email open rates by embedding a tiny image pixel in their emails, Google’s image policy changes the data ESPs, and marketers receive.

But what exactly does this mean for email tracking?

We ran a quick test at Mailgun and recorded the results. Previously, pixel tracking provided data on geo-location and email opens. Following the implementation of Google’s image policy, you still have access to information on open events. However, the geo-location and user agent strings show Google’s data instead of your reader’s.

While you’re not going to receive the same kind of information before Google implemented its image policy, you still can gauge your open rates and other important marketing metrics.

How can I track an email in Gmail?

Now we know a bit about mail tracking; how does email tracking work in Gmail? Let’s go over a few ways:

  • Read receipts in Google Workspace

  • Tracking pixels

  • Google Analytics

  • Mailgun Analytics

What are read receipts in Google Workspace?

Let’s start with one of Google’s in-house tools to track emails in Gmail: read receipts. With this tool, it’s much easier to track open rates. However, it’s limited to Gmail, so this is most useful when sending internal messages within your organization. Follow Google’s directions to allow your readers to turn on read receipts to alert you when they’ve opened your emails.

What’s an email tracking pixel?

A tracking pixel is a 1px by 1px square image generated by a line of code in an email. It tracks your readers’ interaction with your message and delivers personalized marketing as your subscribers browse the internet. This harmless and secure 1-pixel square is usually placed in the email header or email footer. Unlike cookies, which are very noticeable and can be disabled, tracking pixels are virtually invisible to email subscribers.

Email tracking pixels are excellent email marketing campaign tools. As a tracking device, it reports back key email marketing metrics for email marketers to gauge their campaign’s health. It tracks your users’ preferences to continue to show them your products when browsing the internet, driving more traffic to your landing page.

But remember, Google’s image policy affects what data you can obtain through tracking pixels. However, you can still determine open rates with tracking pixels.

How can I use Google Analytics to track my emails?

If using your own tracking pixel doesn’t quite provide you with the information you’re looking for, Google actually has a solution to supercharge your tracking pixel. Use your tracking pixel in conjunction with Google Analytics to track email opens and more. Learn how to boost your tracking pixel with Google Analytics.

How does Mailgun Analytics do Gmail tracking?

Tired of homegrown solutions or hacking together an email tracking tool that works for you? Mailgun offers a free email tracker providing analytics to track all your email metrics. As a full-service ESP, we can help you:

  • Monitor how your customers engage with your emails: Do your subscribers engage with your content? How so?

  • See trends to gauge email performance: Does one email template vibe better with your audience than another?

  • Track email performance split by mailbox providers: See how your emails perform in different email clients, whether this is Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Outlook, or AOL.

  • Use send-time optimization: Determine the best times to send your email campaigns and schedule emails ahead of time.

Our Events API helps you track new email events in real-time, like opens and clicks, while our Logs feature provides an overview of your email analytics. Learn how to make email tracking part of your workflow.

And that’s it

Hopefully, you’ve learned some tips to track emails in Gmail.

Ready to get started? Try email tracking with Mailgun for free today or upgrade for unlimited tracking.

Related readings

Why is Gmail blocking my emails? How to prevent it

It's frustrating as an email sender when your messages don’t get through. Especially if you don't know why it's happening. In this article, we’ll dig into why Gmail may be blocking...

Read more

Key takeaways from Sinch Mailgun’s Email and the customer experience 2024

No one denies that email is an important connecting point between businesses and consumers as well as applications and users. Now, a new study shows just how crucial...

Read more

An expanded Mailgun product suite to transform email deliverability

Today marks a special day for Sinch Mailgun. For over a decade, our focus has been to provide the best email experience for businesses all around the world. Now, we take...

Read more

Popular posts

Email inbox.

Build Laravel 10 email authentication with Mailgun and Digital Ocean

When it was first released, Laravel version 5.7 added a new capability to verify user’s emails. If you’ve ever run php artisan make:auth within a Laravel app you’ll know the...

Read more

Mailgun statistics.

Sending email using the Mailgun PHP API

It’s been a while since the Mailgun PHP SDK came around, and we’ve seen lots of changes: new functionalities, new integrations built on top, new API endpoints…yet the core of PHP...

Read more

Statistics on deliverability.

Here’s everything you need to know about DNS blocklists

The word “blocklist” can almost seem like something out of a movie – a little dramatic, silly, and a little unreal. Unfortunately, in the real world, blocklists are definitely something you...

Read more

See what you can accomplish with the world's best email delivery platform. It's easy to get started.Let's get sending
CTA icon