Email Open and Click Tracking

Deliver provides automatic open-tracking and click-tracking of all transactional and marketing communications sent through Slate.  These metrics provide useful indicators about who is interacting with your communications and how they are interacting with them.  Like other analytics, understanding how open-tracking and click-tracking work is essential to interpreting the data that they provide.

Key points:

  • A message "open" event is not available for all circumstances.  It is normal for it to not reflect absolutely all messages that were opened.
  • A message "click" event is not available for all circumstances.
  • Geographic and browser data is not available for Gmail recipients if they have not yet clicked on a link.
  • The "mx.technolutions.net" URLs are a necessary component of the tracking.  This is the same mechanism employed by other email marketing providers.
  • Third-party email filtering (e.g., Gaggle) used to pre-scan messages are ignored. Opens/clicks that are opened by the filtering software won't count in metrics.
  • In order to mitigate the blocking of mailings, click activities, and open activities by firewalls, Slate does not track opens and clicks for referral-type mailings.
Open Tracking

Messages sent through Slate are sent with two body types.  The first provides a plaintext representation of the email, which is often used in message previews and with older email clients and smartphones.  The second provides an HTML rich text representation of the email.  Inside this HTML message, a transparent image is added that loads from a Technolutions server.  As part of this URL, a unique identifier is included that indicates to us the specific message in which this particular image URL was included.  When the image is loaded, it is recorded that the message has been opened.

If the message is opened in plaintext, no open event can be recorded.  If the message if opened, but the email client blocks the external loading of images (as is the default case with Microsoft Outlook and other email clients), the image will not be loaded and no open event can be recorded.  If the message is opened by a Gmail user, as of December 2013, Gmail will load the image from its servers, which enables greater open-tracking but eliminates the ability to identify the browser or location from an open event.

The images are served from the domain mx.technolutions.net.

When a message is opened, we record message ID, the date/time, and the IP address and user agent of the browser.  The IP address provides information on the location and network provider of the recipient, and the user agent provides information on the browser, platform, and device used.

Email Click Tracking

Most email clients do not allow scripts to be run that might provide asynchronous tracking of what URLs are clicked.  Therefore, email systems use a process of link re-writing to capture the message on which a link appears and has been clicked.  For example, a link to http://www.google.com/ might be translated to something like http://mx.technolutions.net/wf/click?upn=12345 where the "12345" is a long series of alphanumeric characters that uniquely identify the message and link.  Upon clicking on this translated link, the user is immediately redirected to the destination URL.  The stopover at mx.technolutions.net, which lasts only milliseconds, is transparent to the recipient.

For maximum readability, you should make the text action a link instead of including the entire URL.  For example, instead of writing "Use Google to search the Internet at www.google.com", you should write "Use Google to search the Internet", where "Google" is the link itself.

Due to the unaesthetic appearance of these URLs in plaintext communications, where links cannot be masked as they are in an HTML message, we do not currently rewrite URLs for the plaintext message part.

When a link is clicked, we record message ID, the link, the date/time, and the IP address and user agent of the browser.  The IP address provides information on the location and network provider of the recipient, and the user agent provides information on the browser, platform, and device used.

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