Why a Gmail Read Receipt Is Actually The Worst (And What to Use Instead)

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 from Yesware.

Accessible as a Gmail extension, it’s the quickest, easiest way to see when your emails are being opened.

Below are 11 ways that email tracking totally surpasses what a Gmail read receipt can do.

mailEmail tracking in your inboxReal-time engagement insights

What Is a Gmail Read Receipt?

A Gmail read receipt is when a recipient requests a read receipt from a recipient and they approve it. The read receipt is then sent as an email with the time and date of when the email was opened.

Gmail read receipts are only available on Gmail accounts for work or school that are set up by an administrator.

How to request a Gmail read receipt:

1. Click “Compose”

request a Gmail read receipt step 1

2. Type your email

3. At the bottom right of the compose window, click “More options”

request a Gmail read receipt step 2

4. Click “Request read receipt”

request a Gmail read receipt step 3

5. Send your email

Your recipient will receive this notification to either grant or deny the requested read receipt:

read receipt requested notification

11 Ways That Email Tracking Is Better Than A Gmail Read Receipt

1. Your Recipient Has the Same Experience as with Any Other Email

A Gmail read receipt requires action from your recipient. It puts the control in their hands and asks them to do something for you.

Here’s why that’s a problem:

  1. 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
  2. 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

With email tracking, your recipient won’t know you’re tracking your emails. It requires absolutely nothing from them.

2. You Get Totally New Insights with Minimal Effort

Email tracking goes beyond just letting you know when your email has been read.

Unlike a Gmail read receipt, email tracking shows exactly:
  1. Where and on what device your message is read;
  2. When a link within your email is clicked;
  3. 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.

Spend 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:

gmail read receipt

3. See Each Time Your Email Is Opened, in Real-Time, Without The Recipient Knowing

A Gmail read receipt only reveals the first time your email is opened. That doesn’t give you the full story.

Email tracking flags each open (and reopen), so you can better gauge their interest.

The 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.

Take it from this G2 Crowd user:

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.

Click here to set up email tracking in your inbox.

4. Know When Your Recipient Is On the Move or Your Email Is Being Forwarded

Location information can change your entire perspective on a sent email.

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?

gmail read receipt

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 could write the perfect email, but if you’re sending at the wrong time it could get buried in an inbox. We wanted to change that.

In the process of figuring out the best time to send an email, we looked at how reply rates varied across major metropolitan areas around the world when sent at different times (more on those findings here).

In turn, we made a free tool that shows a recommended time to send an email based on location.

This free tool:

  1. Identifies a time with the highest computed reply rates in a destination city
  2. Uses your origin city to suggest the best time to send in your own, local time zone

gmail read receipt

Pro tip: You can use our email scheduler Send Later to get your work out of the way.

gmail read receipt

databaseEliminate the guessworkKnow when recipients read your emails, click on links, and view attachments

7. Save Time Writing Messages With Email Templates

You can save different versions of email messaging to see which gets the most opens and replies.

Creating a template and inserting it into an email is super easy — check it out here:

gmail read receipt

8. Schedule Self-Reminders Based on Reply Tracking

With Reminders, you can add a note to yourself so you can have the right context handy when you need it.

At a designated time, a reminder pops up in your inbox, flagging future you where you knew you’d be working.gmail read receipt

Why does following up matter? About 90% of emails that get replies do so within the same day.

When you remember to follow up the next day, your chances of a reply rate rise to 21%.

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 Campaigns.

gmail read receipt

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 merge 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 Campaigns 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:

gmail read receipt

After you send, you can see who’s looking at your presentation (and for how long) by clicking “View Report” in Email Tracking.

Reporting shows:

  1. How many people accessed the presentation
  2. The total number of views it received
  3. The average time spent viewing

You can also see how long it’s been since each person viewed and their completion rate:

gmail read receipt

The data puts hard numbers on what works, so you can improve your message by focusing on what’s working.
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.

gmail read receipt

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

gmail read receipt^Yesware Desktop Notification

2. Gmail Activity Feed: Get Actionable Data to Follow-Up Smarter

Yesware also has an Activity Feed that makes tracking data more actionable.

gmail read receipt

Within the Activity Feed, you can also click into a message to see the expanded message view so that you can view the full context of an email exchange:

gmail read receipt

This way you can stay engaged with your recipients and know how to follow up with them effectively to increase email engagement.

3. Get Insights Within Your Inbox and Email Threads

The insights you need to do your job should live where you do your job. It’s that simple.

Use the Tracking Icons in your inbox/sent folders to see at a high glance who’s engaged:

gmail read receipt

If you’re in a thread, you can click on Tracking to see all Tracking activity on a thread:

gmail read receipt

What’s Next?

Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Yesware for Gmail to see what these tools can do for your inbox.

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