Why a Gmail Read Receipt Is Actually The Worst (And What to Use Instead)
A gmail read receipt is like a vampire —
It can’t do its job unless it’s welcomed in.
Vampires have other doors to try, but your email doesn’t. It needs a “yes” from your recipient to get any insight.
It’s not an ideal system. But it’s also not your only option.
Enter – email tracking. Accessible as a gmail extension, it’s the quickest, easiest way to see when your emails are being opened.
1. Your Recipient Has the Same Experience as with Any Other Email
With email tracking, your recipient won’t know you’re tracking their emails. It requires nothing from them.
A gmail read receipt, on the other hand, puts the control in their hands — and asks them to do something for you.
Here’s why that’s a problem:
- Sets you up for failure with cold outreach where you haven’t built any trust with your recipient. They have no incentive to lend you a hand raise, letting you know they’ve received your email.
- Gives them an out. As people, we want control of what we do and don’t share with others. When we’re in charge, we often opt for privacy.
2. You Get Totally New Insights with Minimal EffortEmail tracking goes beyond just letting you know when your email has been read.
- Where and on what device your message is read;
- When a link within your email is clicked;
- When and for how long your attachments are being viewed (i.e. 5 seconds on the first page of your PDF, 2 seconds on the third page, etc.).
To get this information, only one person needs to take action: you, not your recipient. And the action is spending 60 seconds up-front to add the plug-in to your Gmail inbox. From there, tracking happens automatically.
You don’t need to set anything up, because the Compose box defaults to checking off the track option for you:
3. See Each Time Your Email Is Opened — In Real-Time
A gmail read receipt only reveals the first time your email is read. Email tracking flags each open (and reopen), so you can better gauge their interest.
Bottom line: Why stay in the dark wondering whether your messages are being opened? With email tracking, you can turn on the lights and see their engagement in real-time.
In the past, I would send an email and it would disappear into a black hole. I wouldn’t know if it was received, opened, or viewed. Now I have visibility into how my audience is interacting with my email, which allows me time to communicate better (I don’t want to pester), and if I haven’t received a response but I know that the recipient is viewing my email, it could be a cue to try a different approach.
4. Know When Your Recipient Is On the Move or Your Email Is Being Forwarded
Location information can change your world. Take it from this Yesware user who sent an email to a client in New York:
Last week, I had sent out an email to a client as a follow up. It included a presentation on one of our new products. I got the notification that he’d opened the email, and I got the notification that he had looked at the presentation, which was awesome. He’s in New York, and it said he opened it in New York.
Almost immediately after that, I got notifications that the attachment was being opened but in Atlanta, and by multiple people. I could tell that, because the client’s headquarters is in Atlanta, he had forwarded it to his leadership team, and there’s no way I would have gotten that information if it wasn’t for Yesware.
Not only does email tracking show you forwards to headquarters, but it also tips you off when your recipient is on vacation or has just returned.
This way, if you’re waiting on a time-sensitive answer, an overdue deliverable, or a contract sign-off, you’ll stay up to date on their whereabouts.
5. See What Devices They’re Reading On (So You Know Where to Reach Out)
If you call a desk phone and no one’s there, did you really call at all?
Email tracking shows you what device they’re on (desktop vs. mobile) so you know whether to follow up via desk or cell phone.
6. Start Testing Your Send Times to Get More Opens
You don’t want your email to get buried in their inbox.
Email tracking lets you schedule your email according to your recipient’s time zone, then tracks opens (and replies) so you can find out when they’re most likely to open.
A Yesware analysis of 500,000 sales emails shows you’re most likely to get a reply when send volume is the lowest. Think: weekends, early morning (between 6 and 7 am) and evening (around 8 pm).
7. Test Your Messaging with Templates (From Your Inbox)
You can save different versions of email messaging to see which gets the most opens & replies. It’s easy to save each variation as a different template and then insert it into a new email. Here’s what email tracking records for you:
Next steps: Try sending two different subject lines with the same body to see which gets the most opens. Or, play around with the length of your email or its organization to win you the most opens and replies.
Looking for more ideas? Grab 18 AB test ideas here.
8. Schedule Self-Reminders Based on Reply Tracking
When a Gmail read receipt drops the ball, email tracking doesn’t. It keeps tabs on who replies and who doesn’t, letting you set next-day reminders to yourself that trigger only if they don’t reply.
Email tracking tools like Yesware let you add a note to yourself so you have the right context handy when you need it. At the designated time, a reminder pops up in your inbox, flagging future you where you knew you’d be working.
Why does following up matter?
Because 89.74% of emails that get replies do so within the same day.
When you remember to follow up next-day, your chances of a reply rise to 21% (your likelihood of a reply the next day without a follow-up is 3.06%, based on an analysis of 500K tracked emails).
9. Put Follow-Ups Entirely on Autopilot, So They Send to Recipients Based on Engagement
If you already know what you want to write in your follow-up, you can automate your entire email sequence.
Because email tracking logs opens and replies, you can set any secondary stages to send to those who haven’t opened your first email or those who haven’t replied.
It’s called Mail Merge.
You write your messages upfront and then schedule it with send criteria for when you want it to go out.
The best part?
You can schedule each stage to go out to multiple people at once, scaling the output of your writing. Users simply upload a CSV file (or Salesforce list) as their recipient list, and include text fields in the email body that personalize to each person:
From there, you can add secondary stages by drafting new messages or inserting existing follow-up templates (try one of ours):
See who opened, clicked, or replied to emails in the Yesware Mail Merge module:
10. Find Out Where People Are Spending Time on Each Page of Your Attachments
Want to see how engaged your audience is with your content?
Presentation tracking peels back the curtain for any PDF, PPT, or PPTX document.
If you use Yesware, simply add your attachment using the green paper clip icon in your compose window:
After you send, you can see who’s looking at your presentation (and for how long) by clicking “View Report” in Email Tracking.
- How many people accessed the presentation
- The total number of views it received
- The average time spent viewing
You can also see how long it’s been since each person viewed and their completion rate:
11. Send Their Opens and Replies to CRM Automatically (So You Don’t Have to Each Time)Four of the sweetest words in the English language: No more data entry.
Email tracking collects recipient engagement and auto-syncs it to CRM.
No more setting aside hours out of your day. Start pushing emails, calls, and meetings to the correct Salesforce.com record in real-time without any customization work.
3 Exclusive Alerts and Reports You’ll Get as a Yesware User
Yesware is a gmail tracking tool that makes working out of your inbox easy and gives you insights that a gmail read receipt can’t.
We’re here to make your life easier.
Below are three ways users receive email tracking data — from real-time push notifications to in-depth reporting on our app site.
1. Real-Time Desktop Notifications
The moment a Yesware users’ email is opened, we send an instant desktop notification letting them know.
Bottom line: You don’t need to have gmail open; you’ll see the push notification wherever you are on your computer. Every notification shows the subject line of the email that’s been opened and the recipient’s name
^Yesware Desktop Notification
2. Gmail Tracking Module: Keep Track of Clicks, Opens, & More
Yesware also has an email tracking module that offers a more in-depth look at tracking data.
The best part? It’s located right at the top of your gmail inbox and lets you sort your sent emails by those that haven’t been opened at all vs. opened emails with no replies. So you can prioritize next steps — like varying your subject line on follow-ups to those who haven’t opened, trying a new email body for those who opened but didn’t reply, or calling anyone who’s opened and clicked.
^This plugs right into your Gmail inbox.
3. App Site Graph: Know Your Clicks/Opens Over Time
Our app site graph (located at app.yesware.com for users) provides a closer look at clicks and opens over time:
^Yesware Tracking Report
Yesware email tracking works by taking an invisible pixel and inserting it automatically into your emails so you know what happens after you press send.
What It Means for the Recipient & Sender
The experience of email tracking is very different for receiver and sender.
Recipient: Unlike a gmail read receipt, email tracking doesn’t require an invitation. Your recipient sees nothing different.
Sender: You send emails the same exact way, but have a new advantage with reporting and instant alerts. The only effort you need to invest is 60 seconds to download the plug-in.
Sending an Email That Doesn’t Require Tracking?
You can stop receiving notifications about yourself (Sender Events) or colleagues (Colleague Events), in three quick steps:
- Click on the Yesware menu in the top-left of Gmail.
- Choose Preferences > Compose Options
- Toggle off Sender Events. This will turn off notifications when you open a tracked event and/or Colleague Event.
Bottom line: You get extra benefits without making the effort.