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Open Tracking (Pixel Tracking) accuracy

From Mail Campaigns v2+, and from the core CRM v2.9+ Jetpack CRM has built in open tracking for emails. This has been appreciated by our users, but needs a general note about the accuracy of the technology.

TL;DR; Any email tracking is limited by what the end user uses to open the email. If they don’t display images, the ‘open’ event is not tracked.

How open tracking works

There’s a huge market of email providers out there, but ultimately we’re all bound to the same protocols for sending and receiving email.

To tell when a contact opens your email the other side, a tiny, translucent (invisible) 1×1 pixel image is added to your email.

When the contact opens your email, their browser (or email app), goes to retrieve the image, asking your server ‘can I have the 1×1 pixel image please’.

Your server returns the blank image, but Jetpack CRM notices this event and logs it agains the contact.

This works fantastically…

For many contacts this will “just work” fantastically, adding a log to the contact record (if you’ve enabled auto-logging), and recording the activity in the email history. In Mail Campaigns you’re able to see opens, clicks, unsubscribes via the campaign summary pages.

Where this falls short is when a contact is using ‘no-image’ mode (not loading images from your emails), or a text-email browser (not common anymore). In these cases it is technically impossible to ‘track the opening of the email’. No other platform could do this as we’re all reliant on the same process here.

As a result you can assume an amount of your emails get opened even when the system says they haven’t been. If you’re getting a 40% open rate (which would be good), you could potentially be getting 50%, 60%, or more – just that a slice of the contacts will have not allowed images in their emails.

How Jetpack CRM tries to extend & improve the model

Mail Campaigns v2+ has a full tracking system which catches clicks of different links, unsubscribes, as well as send  & open events.

This actually helps us give you a more accurate open rate, because if a contact clicks a link (totally unique to them), it’s a given that they have opened the email, so we can log that, even if they’ve not allowed images.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

In September 2021, Apple launched Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), a new feature which impacts how open rates are measured for Apple device users. This means open rates and click-to-open rates (CTOR) will become less reliable.

When toggled on, MPP prevents email senders from seeing a user’s tracking details, including:

  • IP address
  • Email opens and forwards
  • Time stamps (including those for open times)
  • Geolocation
  • Device type
  • Browser or platform

Read more about MPP.

Two of the best ways to counteract this are to keep your contact list clean and your emails fresh.

Updated on January 12, 2023

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