Complete Guide to Email Tracking: 11 Ways to Track Sales Emails

Once upon a time, a salesperson sent an email and then waited…. not knowing if the email was opened, if the attachment was viewed, or the email landed into the spam folder. 

Fast-forward to 2020, a salesperson is much more equipped with email tracking data like email open rates, click-throughs, attachment viewing, et al. Sales email tracking has empowered the sales team to take control and build long-term relationships with prospective buyers. In this article, we will look into 10 ways to track a sales email and how it can empower your customers and your business to stand out in this competitive environment. 

What is sales email tracking? 

Sales email tracking enables a sales team to know how and why a prospect engaged with their emails. Engagement metrics like a number of times email is viewed, open rates, click-throughs, inbox placement rates, geo-based data, and attachment viewing help in making data-driven business decisions. When a recipient opens an email, an email tracking software automatically detects the exact time and date the email is opened. Before we look into how to track an email, below are a few benefits of sales email tracking. 

Benefits of Sales Email Tracking 

Rorie Devine, CEO and Founder of Gro.Team says – “It is very essential to handle sales emails and keep track of your sales and leads because if you get a boom in your sales then it would be a difficult task for you to manage it effectively without having your pipeline to get affected.

On implementing best practices to get maximum benefits, Rorie recommends integrating your CRM with Gmail.  

Having a CRM integrated with your email will make you more efficient because you will not be wasting time using another program outside of email that becomes out of date the moment you get a new email.

Other benefits of tracking sales emails include:

1.Track a prospect and know its marketing/sales stage

Each prospect goes through multiple marketing and sales stages as it proceeds from being a visitor to a prospective buyer. Email tracking helps pinpoint the exact stage in which a prospect is, allowing the sales teams to drive more relevant sales email campaigns. For existing users or returning buyers, you need to track email activities more closely to trigger customer engagement and retain it (making way for recurring sales). 

2. Identify the buying intent

Sales email tracking comes in handy when you are trying to convert a prospect into a paying customer. Based on email engagement tracking, it is possible to pinpoint a prospect’s taste and preferences and simultaneously draw a conclusion on the buying intent of the prospect. It can either be ready to pay immediately or take some more time to understand your product or services. 

3. Get an overview of email engagement

Sales email tracking gives you a bigger picture of how your sales email campaigns are performing. You will know your email open rates, delivery failures, click-throughs, downloading of attachments, or viewing attachments. Based on this data, you can set up automated sequences like adding lead scores to your prospects or streamlining them in your CRM based on email activity. 

4. Follow-up with prospects that matter

Imagine getting several follow-ups on an email that you haven’t even opened in the first place. You don’t like it and eventually, you might straightaway delete it. Email tracking helps your emails avoid such a fate. You know when a recipient opens an email giving you a cue to send the next follow-up. If the recipient clicks in an in-email link or downloads an attachment, you know you have a better chance at conversion than someone who just opened your email. Email tracking helps you identify the most potential prospects and provides you with valuable insights.

5. Create automated responses based on email engagement

35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor, and following up within an hour increases your chances of success by a factor of 7 – says Jayson DeMers, CEO of EmailAnalytics. To be the first-responding vendor, you HAVE to automate your sales process so that you can focus on things that matter.  

Sales email tracking gives you detailed insights into how and when your recipients are engaging with your email, and what are they looking for. Using this data, you can set up automation sequences to catalyze a prospective lead to move forward in the sales funnel. For instance, you can sync your Google Calendars with your CRM to automatically set up reminders for a sales call or a demo call. 

Reaching out to your target buyers at the right time with the right message is the motto of any sales team. From finding the email address to syncing sales strategy with the marketing and product team, a sales team has a lot on the plate already. A simple email tracking can cut down on blind efforts and instead turn your focus on what matters. To leverage the benefit of this process, you must know how to do it. The catch is to not overdo it. 

Carol Li from Cocofax recommends not to be pushy. Li says

Don’t be too pushy and repetitive sending emails to the same person. This might lead to blocking your email address or reporting it as a spam.” No one likes that. 

So, here are the 10 best ways to track a sales email and enable your sales team to never slip through the crack. 

11 Best Ways to Track a Sales Email 

There are primarily three methods to track an email:

1.Through Read Receipts

Many email clients like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail offer the ‘read receipt’ option for recipients to opt-in. If your recipients have opted in and turned on this option in their settings, you will know automatically when your email is read. However there are two major challenges here: First, you and your recipients both have to use the same email client; and secondly, it is an invasive notification system. You cannot much rely on this because you don’t know if your recipients have turned on this feature or not.

2. Through Image Pixels

Compared to using read receipts to track, image pixels are a more common way of tracking emails. Image pixels are added to your email from a tracking server with a coded filename. When a recipient opens this email, the image is called from the server and is regarded as ‘open’. Again, this is not a very reliable method because email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and Apple Mail often don’t load these images. It is up to the recipient to download the image manually after opening the email. This means, the recipient can read the email but it won’t get registered as ‘open’ if the image is not downloaded.

3. Through Trackable links

Using trackable links gives the maximum edge to the sales team when it comes to email tracking. The email content is linked to content stored in a cloud-based repository, which when opened or clicked, gives reliable engagement metrics. 

Now that you know the methods of email tracking, let’s see how to implement the methodology and successfully track your sales emails. 

Best email tracking practices you must start implementing

4. Use CRM with email tracking functionality(+ integrates with all email providers)

Pick a CRM that has advanced features including the email tracking feature. Using a cloud-based CRM makes it a lot easier to track your email activities and engagement metrics. 

Tarah Darge from TimetoReply believes that

When it comes to tracking sales emails, speed matters most. Sales agents are 7x more likely to close a lead when responding in 1 hour than 2. Therefore, using cloud-based software is your best bet.

Darge goes on to explain why –

You can track your team’s reply times (first and average), contact success rates, the ratio between these two stats (your ‘time to reply Ratio’), and reveal emails that still need replying to so that no leads or important queries slip through the cracks.”

5. Create an email and test it before sending

Email tracking’s purpose is to ensure emails are relevant and personalized. Hence, it is important that you run an A/B test for your emails before you send them out. You get a clear almost picture of how your recipients will engage.

6. Set up email tracking feature inside your CRM 

Make sure you set up what you want to track and how inside your CRM. Your specifications will dictate the kind of results you will see. Every CRM that has this functionality will need manual setting up first. For instance, inside Freshsales, you will find this option in your profile settings.

Email tracking in Freshsales


7. Figure out the right moment to follow up

Not all recipients will engage in the same way. Some may not open your emails at all, others may open but not engage further. Each prospect is different, whether it is their buying intent or engagement metrics. So, you cannot have a one-email-for-all template here. Look into your email tracking insights – and decide when is the optimum time to follow-up. For instance, if a recipient has opened your email, clicked an in-mail link, viewed your attachment, and then visited your feature-page or landing page or blog, you may be on the top of their minds at the moment. Here, you must immediately follow-up before they forget about you. Again, if there is a recipient who never opens your emails, you might want to remove it from your email list.  

8. Analyze email engagement data

Your email engagement data is your key to proper tracking, monitoring, and personalized email campaigns. Generate detailed reports for your email campaigns and analyze how they are performing – from open rates to in-email clicks, delivery failures to read-receipts – everything needs to be analyzed to understand how to effectively track email campaigns. Analyzing also gives you an overview of the metrics that you need to measure and monitor. 

9. Create segments inside your CRM and schedule bulk email campaigns

Segmentation inside your CRM is one of the most foolproof ways of sending out relevant emails and trigger engagements. You can create segments based on email engagements like opened emails but did not engage, opened emails and engaged, no engagement at all, inactive for 30 days, inactive for 60 days, and so on. This automatically segments your prospects based on their behavior, which further helps you create personalized automated email responses for each of these segments.

Creating customer segments

10. Know if your email reached the right decision-maker 

Let’s say you are targeting a company of more than 150 people to sell your product and convert them into long-term clients. Such an organization is bound to have multiple hierarchies which means you will need to find out if you are targeting the right decision-maker in the organization. Using an advanced CRM with tracking features, you can get a 360-degree profile of each target person. Using the profile details and email engagement data, you can analyze and see if you are targeting the right person or not. In the case of a startup with, say, 10 people in it, targeting the CEO or any senior salesperson does the job. But for a large organization, you need to route your emails to the right person at the right time. 

11. Polish your communications based on email tracking data

Your goal with email tracking is to make a conversion and also retain the new (and existing) users. Email tracking gives you ample insights into how each recipient is behaving and engaging with your emails. Based on this data, polish your communications as well. 

Patrick Jeter from Groove suggests using pain-specific language –

When prospecting into new accounts, open and engagement rates are extremely critical in understanding who is interested, and also who might need to be contacted in a different way, like a phone call or LinkedIn request. When adding hyperlinks in our messages, we always use pain-specific language, because looking at clicks on those phrases allows us to identify which challenges resonate (or don’t) with each contact. 

Since you are using a CRM as well as tracking engagements with it, you already know what the user wants, why, how, and when. Use this data to design a conversation that shows that you have done your homework and is now merely showing how beneficial it can be for the user to become a paying user of your product or services. Don’t use the same pitch everywhere, every user has a different kind of problem and you can use data to give them relevant solutions. 

email analytics


While it’s great to try and get the majority of your recipients to interact and engage with your emails, at times it is also okay to just let them be. Many recipients won’t engage at all in the first go. That doesn’t mean they won’t do it ever. You can send one follow-up to check and then let it be. If the recipient is inactive for over a month or more, then you may consider removing it from your list. But taking action right-way isn’t always necessary. A smart salesperson will know when to stay silent. In other cases, here are the email engagement metrics you must track.

Email Tracking System: Metrics to track

  • Email Open Rates
  • Email Click-throughs
  • Number of times email was opened
  • Location in which email was opened
  • Device(s) used to view email
  • Attachment viewed or downloaded
  • Next set of action after viewing the email
  • Email bounce rates
  • Spam folder placement and inbox placement rates

Email tracking does not just end with email engagement metrics. After viewing an email, your recipient will still be browsing. It can either be visiting your website or feature page or pricing page. It can also be viewing other alternatives to your product or services. Tracking browsing data and tying it up with the lead profile and email engagement data gives you the complete picture of your recipient’s buying intent, problem statement, and whether your email content was good enough to push the recipient forward in your sales funnel

Wrapping Up

Email tracking systems have put a definite end to uncertainty around emailing. You know exactly when your prospects read your emails and when is the best time to follow-up with each of them. Both you and your customers benefit simultaneously. You get insights to make your emails more relevant and personalized, while your customers know that you won’t be spamming their inboxes with unnecessary emails.

Have you started tracking your sales emails yet? I’d love to hear how you are doing it and the benefits you have seen. 

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