Google Analytics is normally used for tracking visits to your web pages but did you know that the Analytics service can also be used for tracking your outgoing email messages in Gmail. You can add the Google Analytics tracking code to your Gmail messages and you’ll instantly know if your email message has been seen or opened by the recipient.
This is like getting a read receipt for your email messages but, instead of cluttering the mailbox, the receipt is automatically logged as an event in your Google Analytics.
Know when people open your email with Google Analytics
The idea is simple. We’ll insert the Analytics tracking image to our outgoing email message. When the recipient opens the message, the image file will download on their computer and the “visit” will be logged (video demo). And since Google Analytics supports real-time reporting, you’ll see instant activity in the Analytics dashboard when an email is opened or read.
Here’s how you can add Analytics tracking to your Gmail messages:
- Go to your Gmail and compose a new email message. You can also include attachments and inline images in your message. Once the message is ready, let it stay in your Drafts folder and do not hit the Send button.
- Open this Google sheet and choose the Initialize option under the Email Tracker menu. This is a one-time requirement as you’ll have to authorize the sheet to send your Gmail messages with the tracking image included.
- Once the script is authorized, choose Email Tracker -> Send Mail, select your Gmail draft from the drop-down, enter your Google Analytics Profile ID* and hit the Send button. Your mail will be delivered to the recipient.
When the recipient opens your email message, the event will be logged in your Google Analytics. Here’s how you can track the email open activity in your Analytics report.
Tracking Gmail Opens in Google Analytics
Open Google Analytics and choose Events under the Standard Reports group. There you should see new events with the category Email Open as people open your Gmail messages. You can click the category to see the email address of the recipients who have seen your email and also the subject line of the message that they have just read.[*] The Google Analytics profile ID looks something like UA-xxxx-yy and you can easily find this ID in your Analytics Dashboard (Admin -> Property Settings -> Tracking ID). It will be a good idea if you create a separate web property for tracking Gmail messages.
Internally, when you send an email through the Google Sheet, it adds the tracking image to your Gmail message with the help of a Google Script. This tracking image is a 1×1 pixel transparent gif that will not be visible in the message body.
Also see: Track Email Clicks with Google Analytics
The tracking method will obviously not work if the recipient has not enabled images for messages originating from your email address. URL shorteners, like goo.gl, can also help you know if your message has been read.