How are opens tracked. And why they may not be tracked 100% of the time.

PoliteMail, like all email marketing software, uses standard web page image tracking to determine *opens*.

An open tells you when your recipient has viewed your message content, either in the preview pane or by double-clicking to actually open the message.  When the content is displayed, the pictures are quickly downloaded from the PoliteMail Server, and that event signals an open.
You may have noticed that gray box with the red-x in some email you receive. This occurs because images are blocked by default in nearly all email programs (including Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc).  When the recipient clicks the bar at the top of the message to “download pictures” or “display content”, then the recipient gets the images and the sender gets an open confirmation.

The industry average email open rate is between 10-15%. Most PoliteMail users see rates in the 20-40% range. PoliteMail users sending internal corporate communications (employee email) can see open rates of 100%.

If the sender is on the recipient’s safe sender list (or in their contacts folder), or is sending internal email, then images are displayed automatically and you automatically get the open confirmation.

Therefore an *open* is not really telling you if someone read your email or not. It is telling you who definitely displayed your content. This is still good information, as you know for sure that these people have seen your message, these recipient are more engaged with your email as they have either elected to display images or have you added you to their address book.

Link clicks however, are 100% accurate, and are a much more reliable indicator of interest than opens. If a receipt clicks a link without displaying pictures, PoliteMail is smart enough to also register an open.

What if I don’t include pictures in my email?

If you include an image in your email, like a logo in your signature, then PoliteMail will use that image as the tracking image, otherwise, PoliteMail will include a tiny, transparent tracking image (sometimes called a beacon), and when that image is requested from the server (to display pictures) then you receive the open confirmation.

Considering most people are annoyed by (or completely ignore) read-receipts, this method of open tracking is transparent and requires no additional steps. With PoliteMail you will not interrupt the recipient with an annoying pop-up. However, as people may read the text of an email without displaying images, your open rates may never be 100% accurate.


Why you get higher open rates in corporate environments

If your company uses Outlook and Exchange, email content sent from other Outlook users within the corporation is not blocked.  In corporate communications environments, internal Outlook email can effectively provide you with 100% open tracking.

By default, Outlook does not download external content such as pictures, except when it comes from a Trusted Sites zone or from an address or domain specified in the Safe Senders List. You can change this behavior so that content from any of the zones (Trusted Sites, Local Intranet, and Internet) will be downloaded automatically.
Automatic content download settings can be configured by default for users, or locked down by group policy settings.  To deploy default settings for users, go to the Change Office User Settings page in the Custom Installation Wizard. The settings to customize automatic content download behavior are in the same location in the Microsoft Office Outlook tree in the Custom Installation Wizard as they are in the Microsoft Office Outlook tree in the ADM template viewed in Group Policy.


To configure options for automatic picture download behavior in Outlook

  1. In Group Policy, load the appropriate Outlook template (Outlk11.adm, Outlk12.adm, Outlk13.adm).
  2. Under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office Outlook 2003\Tools | Options\Security, click HTML Mail External Content Settings.
  3. To change a policy for the automatic picture download feature, double-click an item in the Setting column.

For example, to lock down disabling automatic content downloading from all sites, double-click Block all external content.

  1. Click the Enabled radio button to enable configuring the policy.
  2. Select the check box in the policy, and then click OK.