How to Track Email Opens with Mail Merge for Gmail

Published in: Mail Merge for Gmail

Mail Merge for Google Inbox and Gmail lets you track email opens (know when an email has been read) and it records the information when your email message is viewed or opened by the message recipient. The campaign reports show how many subscribers opened your campaign and how many times were the emails viewed.

How to Enable Open Tracking with Mail Merge

To use open tracking in mail merge, you need to enable the Track Email Opens option in the Mail Merge configure window. You also need to specify a Campaign Name as shown in the screenshot below.


What is Campaign Name in Mail merge

When you create an email campaign inside mail merge, you need to associate a name with that campaign. This name will be used for email reporting and all campaigns with the same name will be grouped under the same reports.

For instance, if you are informing customers of a new offer in your store, you can set the campaign name as “Summer Sale.” The Campaign name is for internal use only and will not be visible to the email recipients. Later, if you send another email blast to your mail merge subscribers, you can use the same campaign name and the email open reports will be grouped together for that campaign.

How Email Open Tracking Works in Mail Merge

When you enable email open for your campaign, Mail Merge insert a 1x1 pixel transparent GIF image (or web beacon) in your outgoing email messages. This hidden image file is downloaded on the recipient’s computer (or mobile phone) and the open event gets recorded in Mail Merge reports. This works on both computers and mobile devices.


How to Access Email Open Reports

Inside the Mail merge sheet, navigate to Addons > Mail Merge with Attachments > Campaign Reports > Open and Click reports to view your email campaign reports.


This will show you all a list of all email campaigns that you have sent via Mail Merge with email tracking enabled. Select the Campaign Name from the dropdown. You may (optional) check the “Include detailed tracking information” checkbox to see a detailed report of email opens.

The email open reports, which are added as a separate sheet in the same Mail merge sheet, will include the following details.

  • Date when the email message was sent
  • Email address of the subscriber
  • Date and time (timestamp) when the email was last opened (or viewed)
  • IP address of the computer / mobile phone where the message was opened
  • Email Client or web browser of the user, interpreted from the user agent string

Sample Mail Merge Summary Report


Mail Merge Email Tracking - Limitations

  • If your mail merge campaign is not listed in the campaign drop-down, it is likely that “track email opens” option was not enabled when sending the merge.
  • Email Open tracking is only available for HTML Mails since images are not downloaded when a user chooses to open the plain text version of an email message.
  • Some email recipients may have blocked image downloads or they maybe offline when the message was opened. In such cases, the open event cannot be recorded as the tracking image will not download on the recipient’s computer.
  • If you see multiple opens for the same user, they’ve either opened your email message on different machines (like a computer and mobile phone) or their email client has downloaded the web beacon multiple times. Sometimes subscribers may forward your email and thus may result in multiple opens.
  • If your email message is very large, Gmail may sometimes clip the message and that may block the pixel image from downloading on the client’s computer.
  • Gmail website and Gmail apps may download the tracking image on Google’s proxy server for caching. The open website will be recorded in this case but the IP address may be listed as one of Google’s servers and the web browser / OS will not be recorded.

When you send an email via Mail Merge, a copy of the email is saved in your Gmail Sent Items. If you open the email in Sent Items, the open event will be captured since the tracker will not know if you have opened the email or one of the recipients.

Tip: If you are not a Mail Merge user, you can still track email opens with Google Analytics.

Published in: Mail Merge for Gmail

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Web Geek, Tech Columnist
Amit Agarwal

Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in GSuite and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India. Read more on Lifehacker and YourStory

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