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Newsletter Open Trackling

We send out newsletters by email every month (pandemics permitting) to inform of coming events.  Sometimes people miss these and so a copy is often sent to those who have not opened the message a few days after it was initially sent, but how do we know whether someone has opened the message ? And how come a few people get the second copy despite reading it first time around ?

Within each newsletter we embed a tiny invisible graphic image at the bottom. This open tracker graphic, or web beacon, is unique to each newsletter. When someone opens it with images turned on, that graphic is downloaded from the mail server, and that download is recorded as an open. Automated replies, such as out-of-office messages, generally do not download this graphic, so they shouldn't count as opens.

Web beacon trafficking is the industry standard for open tracking and is a great tool to give a general overview of subscriber engagement, but it does have some limitations. Because it relies on a hidden graphic embedded in the message, open tracking won't work

  • If messages are received as plain text (rather than HTML enhanced)

  • If your email client (e.g. Thunderbird, Outlook, Apple Mail) is set not to display images. This is sometimes set by default but can be overridden in Settings or by adding the sender you your contacts list or address book.

  • If the message is read in 'preview' mode where graphics are suppressed.

  • If the message is read in a web browser with image tracking blocked by an add-in

  • If only the top of the message is displayed and the 'view entire message' link is not clicked.

  • If a spam filter does not allow the message to be seen - this can be countered by training the algorithm, typically by right clicking the message and marking it as not spam/junk.

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