Does Email Open Tracking Negatively Affect Deliverability? (2023)

Updated December 2023

Tracking email open rates negatively affects deliverability.

There are many software tools that allow you to see how many people opened your emails.

The problem with these tools is that they aren’t accurate and they can also negatively affect your deliverability (thus making your emails go to spam).

In this article, I will explain everything that you need to know about email open tracking software, and I will also share an alternative method for tracking the success of your cold email campaigns that doesn’t negatively affect your deliverability:

What is email open tracking?

Email open tracking is a way to know what percentage of people opened your emails.

Most cold email sending tools allow you to track your email open rate by default.

screenshot showing an opened email in gmail

There are also extensions that you can install with Gmail and Outlook that allow you to track your email open rate.

How does open tracking work?

Open tracking software tools work by embedding an invisible 1x1 pixel image file into the emails that you send.

When a recipient clicks to open your email, this invisible image file will load upon the email opening, and this is then tracked as an open.

These tools use the image’s loading event to track when the email has been opened.

image of pixels

Is open tracking accurate?

Email open tracking is not accurate.

The reason is that in 2021, Apple released an update (Mail Privacy Protection) that “prevents senders from seeing if you’ve opened the email they sent you.”

Apple dominates the email client market with a controlling 58.96% share. This means that if you are sending cold emails, then open tracking will not work for the majority of your recipients.

image showing Apple logo

Also, since open tracking can negatively affect your deliverability, it isn’t accurate since your emails are more likely to go to spam. You are in essence tracking opens for emails that are going to spam, which is not the same as tracking opens for emails that go to the primary inbox. Obviously open rates will be much lower for emails that go to spam compared to emails that go to the primary inbox.

Why does open tracking negatively affect your deliverability?

The reason that open tracking negatively affects your deliverability is because email service providers, such as Gmail & Outlook, do not want to show their users marketing/promotional/spam emails.

Their job is to show their users only the most relevant and necessary emails, otherwise their users’ inboxes will become flooded with spam.

screenshot of spam folder in gmail

If your cold emails contain a 1x1 pixel image file to track opens, then email service providers will know that your emails are sales/promotional in nature, and are much more likely to send them to spam.

Alternative ways to track the success of your cold email campaigns

If tracking open rates can hurt your deliverability, then how should you track the success of your cold email campaigns?

In my opinion, the only thing that matters is your response rate.

You can know your response rate by looking at how many people you emailed, and what percentage responded.

I recommend that you send cold emails with Emailchaser, because it has a built-in analytics dashboard that shows all key metrics, including your response rate.

screenshot showing analytics page in Emailchaser

Open rates are a vanity metric that don’t actually contribute to your sales. If you have good deliverability, use a battle-tested subject line, and have good copy in your email, then your open rate will be high (80% plus).

You can read my article How To Send Cold Emails Without Going To Spam to learn how to improve your deliverability.

You can also read my other article 40 Best Cold Email Subject Lines to see which subject line is right for you.

And finally, my article How To Write A Cold Email That Gets Responses will teach you how to write great cold email copy.

If you follow the advice in the above articles, then your open rate will be as high as possible, meaning you won’t even need to track it.

Frequently asked questions

Does open tracking affect deliverability?

Tracking your email open rate will negatively affect your deliverability. Your cold emails are more likely to go to spam if you track your open rate.

Is it important to track your email open rate?

It is not important to track your open rate. The only metric that matters is your response rate, and you can track this using Emailchaser, without needing to track your open rate.

Final thoughts

If you track your email open rate, then your emails are more likely to go to the spam folder.

Fortunately, you don’t even need to track your open rate to have success in cold email. The only metric that you need to track is your response rate.

If you send cold emails with Emailchaser, then you can take advantage of our built in analytics dashboard that displays your response rate.

If you are interested in deliverability, then check out my article Does Email Warm Up Work & Is It Safe.

You will also enjoy my other article How To Send Cold Emails Without Going To Spam.

picture of George Wauchope

Article by

George Wauchope

Founder of Emailchaser.

I have been working in the sales & marketing industry for nearly a decade.

When I’m not working on my business, I enjoy eating sushi & doing jiu-jitsu.

About the author
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