Email Open Tracking using Google Analytics

It is really amazing feature if we can track email opening by using Google Analytics. Previously, there is no suggested way to submit HTTP request to Google Analytics. But now Google has introduced new feature Universal Analyticss . The main focus for introducing this feature is to track mobile app uses. Interestingly we can take benefit of this new feature for tracking Open email and other area.

We should follow below basic step for open mail tacking,

  1. Sign up Google analytics and create a GA tracking account
  2. Create HTML encoding email.
  3. Append “<img>” tag at top/bottom of the mail body content. “<img>” tag src will be point to Google Analytics url with required parameter.
  4. Monitoring tacking from Google Analytics dashboard.

First, we can create request URL for tacking data submission. Below is a sample URL with required parameter.

If we hit above URL directly by web browser, GA will receive data under provided GA account ID(tid=your GA ID). All useful Parameters documentation can be found from Measurement Protocol. Below I only described some required parameter for email open tracking task.

v= GA version number

tid=tracking ID / web property ID (Google analytics account ID)

cid= Customer ID(Any unique number)

t= Hit type.

ec= Event Category.

ea= Event Action

el= Event Label

cs= Campaign Source

cm= The campaign medium.

cn= Campaign name

“tid” is Google Analytics account tracking id. It need to be updated by your GA account ID.

cid is generally application user ID or any other unique id. Here is a nice video to understand the reason of this parameter.

Below is GA “Real Time” dashboard live response after hitting above URL directly in browser.

GA Live Tracking
GA Live Tracking

Figure 1: GA Real Time dashboard

Sending HTML Email:

I previously noted that we can track only HTML emaill. So to test our created tracking URL, We have to send a  HTML email. We can use GMAIL to send a test HTML. Outlook is not recommended for HTML email sending. Below tracking “<img>” tag will have to append at top/bottom of the HTML mail content.

<img  src=”

”  />

Here is a helpful video to learn how to send HTML mail using Gmail.

Now GA “Real time” dashboard will show response as soon as email open (figure 1). One special note is that by default Gmail and others mail client trim email body “<img>” tag. So email receiver must have to click “display image” link to show images in mail consent. If user does not click “display image” link, tracking request will NOT send to GA. This is a classic limitation of “one pixel” image tracking technique.

View Analytics tracking report:

By “Real Time” dashboard we can ensure that the tracking is working during development time. GA can be taking some hours to prepare actual GA report. We will get our email tracking report under Traffic “Source>Overview> Campains>open_email_tracking”

GA tracking dashboad

                       Figure 2: Open Email tracking report

Please don’t forget to post comment if you need further assistance 🙂