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How Does Email Click Tracking Really Work?

· Email,All In One CRM

Click tracking is becoming more and more important to sales and marketing professionals, but how does it work and how reliable is it? We'll dive into those questions so you become an expert. If you haven't yet seen our article on email open tracking, it is a great companion piece to this write up.

Like email open tracking, email click tracking started with email marketing. Eventually, the exact same technology made its way into sales software. And now the effectiveness really comes down to ease of use of the email sending system.

Email Click Tracking Overview

At a high level, how click tracking works is pretty simple - and is implemented the same way across all click tracking systems. The link you want your recipient to visit is replaced with a trackable link, which when clicked, redirects to the original link.

For example, say I email you a link to www.vipecloud.com and want to know if you click on that link. While the recipient would see www.vipecloud.com in their email, when they click on the link it might first go to "https://v.vipecloud.com/v/ak9pc5yv6u8gc4ksckcd8rgvljejkk40w48s" and then redirect to www.vipecloud.com. Go ahead - try clicking the trackable link above (don't worry, we can't know who you are).

Because the above example situation occurred in an email, the tracking system associates the "ak9pc5yv6u8gc4ksckcd8rgvljejkk40w48s" code with your email. And as such, you can be alerted when that recipient clicked on your link.

But The Real World Isn't That Simple

The outbound part of this whole process is pretty simple. By that I mean adding the redirect link to the email is a known and often-used process. However, once that email is sent, the complications begin. All too common scenarios can cause the unfortunate false positive or worse: throw your email into the recipients spam filter.

False positives. Sometimes links are marked as clicked when they were not actually clicked. Some email recipient systems have started aggressively checking inbound emails for potential threats. In some of those checks the Exchange server artificially visits every single link in your email before delivering the email to the recipient. This unfortunately results in a false positive and it is not possible to know if the link click redirect was caused by an automated system or a human being. (This can also throw a falsely positive email open event by downloading the open tracking pixel).

Avoiding the spam filter. Another concern is that you can inadvertently increase your chances of having your emails with trackable links end up in the spam folders of your recipients. Why? If the domain of your email address does not match the domain of your the trackable link, that can throw a red flag.

This can be avoided by "whitelabeling" your email tracking service to your DNS (e.g. GoDaddy). Here's what it means to whitelabel your trackable links:

  • Bad. Your email = roadrunner@acme.com. Your trackable link to acme.com first goes to mailtrackingsystem.com, then redirects to acme.com. Because mailtrackingsystem.com does not equal acme.com, recipient email systems can throw a red flag. 
  • Good. Whitelabel your DNS so your trackable links look like "mailtrackingsystem.acme.com" so your domain matches your email. (VipeCloud supports this for all customers, and we invite you to try us out :). 

How Should You Approach Email Click Tracking?

How to approach email click tracking depends on your role (or if you are a small business, the task you are evaluating).

Email marketing. The key word here is relative. A single click data point isn't very valuable to you as a marketer. However, as you continue to send your blasts outs, your audience profile is likely not changing a whole lot. So the best thing you can do is compare click rates from one campaign to another.

Email tracking for sales. Whether or not the link click alert was caused by a system or a human, we suggest it is still a great excuse to reach out to the person. Even if they say they didn't click the link, you still had reason to call them and might have just started a great conversation.

That's how email click tracking works. If you'd like to try out a system which supports email click tracking for both sales and marketing, we invite you to try VipeCloud.

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