5 Tips to Accurately Track Email Opens in Outreach

Created On:
January 1, 2024
Updated On:
February 26, 2024
5 Proven Tips to Accurately Track Email Opens in Your Cold Outreach | Smartlead

You may be sending personalized bulk cold emails to a targeted lead list, but your efforts will go in vain if you don’t track the essential metrics. You may ask, why?
Well, cold outreach is all about improving and optimizing your strategy to scale your business. And for this reason, you must keep a close eye on cold outreach metrics. 

One such metric is email open rates. It means the number of people who have opened your emails. However, there’s a twist. Email open rates are not a solid metric to rely on anymore. 

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the essential metrics for your cold outreach. We’ve added 5 proven tips to accurately track email opens in your cold outreach and how you can leverage other metrics to scale your campaigns. 

Understanding Email Open Rates for Cold Outreach

Email open rate is a metric that tells you how many recipients opened the emails you sent. 

The next question is how do you calculate it? 

Email open rate = The number of emails opened / The total number of emails sent

For example, if you sent out 200 emails and 100 folks popped them open, you'd have a 50% open rate.

But why does this matter, you ask?

The Goal Behind Open Rates for Cold Outreach

Even a few years back, the primary goal of open rates was to see if your prospects were genuinely interested in what you had to say. It was a metric to understand if your prospects have opened your emails or simply got ignored in their inboxes. 

Email open rates not only help you figure out if your messages are landing in the inbox or spam folder. Although the average email open rate differs based on the industry, companies should aim for 17-28% email open rates.

Sadly, that’s not a reliable metric anymore. Open rates are losing their relevance as the go-to metric for email deliverability. Don't worry, we'll discuss it in a moment.

Open rates also give you an idea of how well your subject lines are doing. If an email gets opened, you can safely say that the subject line or the first line of your email has worked well. 

While open rates are a great indicator of the performance of your cold email outreach campaigns, they can sometimes be a bit misleading. The number doesn't always give you accurate data on how many people opened your email.

Why Open Rates are Misleading?

Email inboxes have become a bit tricky now. For privacy and security reasons, some inboxes have built-in bots and filters that simulate opens and clicks on your links. So, even if your prospect never laid eyes on your email, it gets counted as an open.  

And then there’s the preview mode. Some email providers let recipients "open" an email without really opening it, which gets marked as open.

Inflated Email Open Rates

So, what’s happening with the inflated email open rates? Well, it turns out, that email service providers (ESPs) often add a tiny pixel to your emails to track opens. But recently, Google updated their algorithm, and now, using tracking pixels can actually increase your chances of landing in the spam folder. 

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection

With its Mail Privacy Protection feature, Apple now allows its email users to hide their IP addresses and keep their open stats under wraps. MPP makes it almost impossible to generate accurate data on email opens from Apple Mail users. As we have discussed before, Apple preloads every email in its own proxy server, so there’s a high chance that you will see 100% email open rates for Apple Mail users. 

Keep in mind that different ESPs such as Gmail, Hotmail Yahoo, or professional email addresses also work with Apple Mail. So there’s a high chance that It will show you inflated email open rates that can deceive your tracking process. 

With the declining reliability of email open rates, it's inevitable that click-to-opens will also show tampered metrics. For example, false opens (emails that are not opened by the recipient but still show as open, thanks to Apple’s proxy servers) can drastically reduce the number of click-to-opens as the email open rates are inflated.

Regarding cold email campaigns, relying solely on open rates is like trying to drive a car with a flat tire. 

A Better Metric for Cold Email Outreach: Link Tracing

Link tracking is a way to monitor how people engage with the links you include in your emails. This includes tracking KPIs like clicks, shares, and opens of a link.

Every time you send an email with a link, a special code is attached to it. This code is like a fingerprint that helps identify where the link came from. When someone clicks that link, your cold emailing tool collects data about the action, like their IP address. 

How Does Link Tracking Work?

There are a couple of ways to do ink tracking. One way is by setting up a custom domain tracking system. It's like giving each of your emails its own address. This lets you see exactly when and how many times an email was opened. It's super handy for keeping real-time updates about your campaigns. 

Advantages of Link Tracking

Link tracking offers some serious benefits to your cold outreach campaign: 

1. Sender Reputation & Guaranteed Delivery 

Using custom domain tracking boosts your sender reputation, making sure your emails land where they're supposed to—in the inbox, not the spam folder.

2. Increased Visibility

Link tracking gives you specific data on which leads are opening your emails and engaging with them. This helps you spot the hot prospects and prioritize them for follow-ups. With Smartlead, you can create subsequences to target specific leads for follow-ups. 

3. Personalized Links

You can create special, one-of-a-kind links for each person you email. It's like giving them a tailored experience, and it makes a big impression. As these links or specific wordings directly target your prospects’ pain points, it increases the chances of conversions 

4. Brand Visibility

Custom link tracking with your own domain builds trust among prospects. It helps build brand recognition and makes you stand out in a crowded inbox.

5 Proven Tips to Accurately Track Email Opens (and Beyond) in Your Cold Outreach

This is the elephant in the room, right? Without tracking your cold email for email open rates, you can’t measure the success of your cold email campaigns. However, thanks to inflated open rates due to Apple Mail Privacy protection, you need to focus on other trustable KPIs to measure cold outreach performance. But, first things first, let’s talk about cold email open rates. 

1. Open Rates Tracking

 You can track your cold email open rates with Smartlead.ai by including trackable links in your cold emails. When the recipient clicks on these links, Smartlead offers a real-time update that they have opened your email. 

As we’ve said before, email open tracking is not a viable KPI anymore, let’s focus on other metrics to accurately track your cold email efforts. 

2. Click-Through Rates Tracking 

Smartlead provides a master inbox where all your conversations with prospects are organized for easy management, and you can monitor the click-through rates of your campaigns. Click-through rates give you an idea of how many people have clicked on the link provided in the email. This is a reliable indicator of campaign engagement. 

3. Email Deliverability Rates Tracking 

Email deliverability rates give you an idea of how many of your emails sent actually landed in your prospects’ inboxes and how many of them were (possibly) marked as spam. With Smartlead.ai, you can effectively track email deliverability rates.
Besides, Smartlead offers a fully automated email warmup with human-like sending behaviors to keep deliverability rates high and maintain a high sender reputation for your domain. 

4. Bounce Rate Tracking 

The bounce rate (hard bounce and soft bounce) shows how many of your emails remained unsent. A high bounce rate is a clear indicator of poor list hygiene and issues with email deliverability. 

As Smartlead offers you bounce rate data analytics, you can promptly address the issues to ensure all your emails land in the primary inbox and maintain low bounce rates. 

5. Attachment Activity Tracking 

Unique to cold emailing tools, Smartlead offers another metric tracking—attachment activity tracking. It shows the number of times an attachment in your email was downloaded or viewed. With this metric, you can monitor what content is getting traction and create optimized cold email campaigns. 


Data analytics is an essential part of cold outreach success. If you can’t see it, you can’t improve it! Tracking cold emails helps you measure the success of your email campaigns and make data-driven decisions to optimize your outreach efforts. With Smartlead, you can track your cold outreach campaigns and necessary metrics to optimize the existing campaigns and create an effective new strategy. 

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Author’s Details

Sattwik Das

Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at Smartlead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.


Edited by:

Sattwik Das


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Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is Smartlead's cold email outreach software?

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Smartlead's cold email outreach tool helps businesses scale their outreach efforts seamlessly. With unlimited mailboxes, fully automated email warmup functionality, a multi-channel infrastructure, and a user-friendly unibox, it empowers users to manage their entire revenue cycle in one place. Whether you're looking to streamline cold email campaigns with automated email warmups, personalization fields, automated mailbox rotation, easy integrations, and spintax, improve productivity, or enhance scalability with subsequences based on lead’s intentions, automated replies, and full white-label experience, our cold email tool implifies it in a single solution.

How does the "unlimited mailboxes" feature benefit me?

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Our "unlimited mailboxes" feature allows you to expand your email communications without restrictions imposed by a mailbox limit. This means you won't be constrained by artificial caps on the number of mailboxes you can connect and use. This feature makes Smartlead the best cold email software and empowers you to reach a wider audience, engage with more potential customers, and manage diverse email campaigns effectively.

What do you mean by "unibox to handle your entire revenue cycle"?

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The "unibox" is one of the unique features of Smartlead cold email outreach tool, and it's a game-changer when it comes to managing your revenue cycle. The master inbox or the unibox consolidates all your outreach channels, responses, sales follow-ups, and conversions into one centralized, user-friendly mailbox.

With the "unibox," you gain the ability to:
1. Focus on closing deals: You can now say goodbye to the hassle of logging into multiple mailboxes to search for replies. The "unibox" streamlines your sales communication, allowing you to focus on what matters most—closing deals.

2. Centralized lead management: All your leads are managed from one central location, simplifying lead tracking and response management. This ensures you take advantage of every opportunity and efficiently engage with your prospects.

3. Maintain context: The "unibox" provides a 360-degree view of all your customer messages, allowing you to maintain context and deliver more personalized and effective responses.

How does Smartlead ensure my emails don't land in the spam folder?

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Smartlead, the best cold email marketing tool, ensures your emails reach the intended recipients' primary inbox rather than the spam folder. 

Here's how it works:
1. Our "unlimited warmups" feature is designed to build and maintain a healthy sending reputation for your cold email outreach. Instead of sending a large volume of emails all at once, which can trigger spam filters, we gradually ramp up your sending volume. This gradual approach, combined with positive email interactions, helps boost your email deliverability rates.

2. We deploy high-deliverability IP servers specific to each campaign. 

3. The ‘Warmup’ feature replicates humanized email sending patterns, spintax, and smart replies.
4. By establishing a positive sender reputation and gradually increasing the number of sent emails, Smartlead minimizes the risk of your emails being flagged as spam. This way, you can be confident that your messages will consistently land in the primary inbox, increasing the likelihood of engagement and successful communication with your recipients.

Can I integrate Smartlead with other tools I'm using?

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Certainly, Smartlead is designed for seamless integration with a wide range of tools and platforms. Smartlead offers integration with HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, Clay, Listkit, and more. You can leverage webhooks and APIs to integrate the tools you use. Try Now!

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What type of businesses sees the most success with Smartlead?

No, there are no limitations on the number of channels you can utilize with Smartlead. Our multi-channel infrastructure is designed to be limitless, allowing you to reach potential customers through multiple avenues without constraints.

This flexibility empowers you to diversify your cold email outreach efforts, connect with your audience through various communication channels, and increase your chances of conversion. Whether email, social media, SMS, or other communication methods, Smartlead's multi-channel capabilities ensure you can choose the channels that best align with your outreach strategy and business goals. This way, you can engage with your prospects effectively and maximize the impact of your email outreach.

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Do you provide me with lead sources?

Smartlead distinguishes itself from other cold email outreach software by focusing on limitless scalability and seamless integration. While many similar tools restrict your outreach capabilities, Smartlead offers a different approach.

Here's what makes us uniquely the best cold email software:

1. Unlimited Mailboxes: In contrast to platforms that limit mailbox usage, Smartlead provides unlimited mailboxes. This means you can expand your outreach without any arbitrary constraints.

2. Unique IP Servers: Smartlead offers unique IP servers for every campaign it sends out. 

3. Sender Reputation Protection: Smartlead protects your sender reputation by auto-moving emails from spam folders to the primary inbox. This tool uses unique identifiers to cloak all warmup emails from being recognized by automation parsers. 

4. Automated Warmup: Smartlead’s warmup functionality enhances your sender reputation and improves email deliverability by maintaining humanized email sending patterns and ramping up the sending volume. 

5. Multi-Channel Emphasis: Smartlead places a strong emphasis on multi-channel outreach. You can reach your prospects where they are with the LinkedIn outreach feature.   With Smartlead’s cold email automation software, you're always one step ahead in your outreach efforts, enjoying the freedom to scale your initiatives and seamlessly integrate with other tools—all while maintaining a focus on maximizing the impact of your outreach.

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How secure is my data with Smartlead?

Ensuring the security of your data is Smartlead's utmost priority. We implement robust encryption methods and stringent security measures to guarantee the continuous protection of your information. Your data's safety is paramount to us, and we are always dedicated to upholding the highest standards of security.

How can I get started with Smartlead?

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Getting started with Smartlead is straightforward! Just head over to our sign-up page and follow our easy step-by-step guide. If you ever have any questions or need assistance, our round-the-clock support team is ready to help, standing by to provide you with any assistance you may require. Sign Up Now!

How can I reach the Smartlead team?

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We're here to assist you! You can easily get in touch with our dedicated support team on chat. We strive to provide a response within 24 hours to address any inquiries or concerns you may have.

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