Boomerang adds Read Receipts to Gmail!

Posted By on Jan 28, 2013 | 13 comments


You sent out an important email, and two days later, you haven’t received a response. Did the recipient read the message and choose not to respond, or was it buried in a full Inbox, never even opened? Wonder no more! With Boomerang, you can now request a read receipt for any message you send out! Here’s a video explaining how the new feature works!

Need to download Boomerang again? Just visit http://www.boomeranggmail.com and click the Download button!

To add a read receipt to Gmail messages, just click the Request Read Receipt and Track Clicks button in the bottom right of the compose window. You will need to use the New Compose experience in Gmail to access the feature. Boomerang will add a read receipt notification to the bottom of the message, and will also track clicks on any links you include in the message. Shortly after the message is read, you’ll receive a notification email from us that the recipient has read your message.

Read Receipt Screenshot

We’ve also added a new tab to the Boomerang Manage page that provides more detailed information about how many times the message has been read and which links have been clicked. To get there, click the Boomerang link in the black bar at the top of your Gmail window, then click the Manage Scheduled Messages menu item. You can also choose to have the message return to your Inbox after a period of time if it hasn’t been opened, or if the links have not been clicked.

Managing Tracked Messages

Note: some mail clients are not compatible with this feature, so they will not send a read receipt even if the recipient opens the message.

While the Gmail Read Receipts feature is in beta, it will be available (with unlimited use) for all Boomerang users, regardless of your plan. The update should have already made its way to you, but if you don’t see the new button yet, click the Reload button in your browser (next to the address bar) while on the Gmail page.

Read Receipts vs Open Tracking

We’ve had dozens of requests for this feature over the past few months. We wanted to share our thinking for how we have implemented the feature.

There are two approaches we could have taken – read receipts vs open tracking. Open tracking hides a transparent one-pixel image (about the size of a period) somewhere in the message. When someone opens the email, open tracking notifies the sender of the exact time the message was opened and provides the IP address of the computer that opened the message. If you’re out of town, all a tech-savvy burglar needs to do is have you open one of their spyware-laden messages and see that the location of your IP address is in a different country. Or, more commonly, an aggressive salesperson can call you or send you a follow-up saying that he noticed you read his email 32 seconds after 9:28 this morning. Creeptastic!

Read receipts are different, because they respect the recipient’s privacy. The recipient sees an explicit notification and has an opportunity to choose not to provide a read receipt. We also do not collect the recipient’s IP address, location, or the exact minute someone opened the email. Unlike read receipts in Outlook, however, Boomerang defaults to providing the read receipt — the recipient must explicitly choose not to do so.

Even more important, our early data shows that including a read receipt in an email you send out may increase the chances that you’ll get a response to your message. Try doing that with open tracking!

Please enjoy the new feature, tell your friends how to see if an email is read in Gmail, and let us know how it works for you!

13 Comments

  1. How is this technicaly implemented? Do you still use “Open tracking” (1×1 pixel image etc) but with just the possibility of opt-out?

    Or do you use another method in order to register a “read”? Please provide some more details. You didn’t share very much on your actual implementation.

    Oh, does this still work if you send emails in plain-text?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Brandon –

      We still embed an image, but it’s not 1×1 – instead it is fully visible in the email and explains that the sender requested a read receipt and that the recipient can opt out by clicking the link in the image. That way, the default read receipt behavior is to provide it, but the recipient still has the option to opt out.

      It will not work if you send email as plain text, unfortunately.

      Post a Reply
  2. Once this feature is out of Beta, will it be available to users with the Personal level subscription, or only to those with the Pro level?

    From your explanation above, I’m assuming that people who don’t display external graphic images won’t generate a return receipt.

    For such situations, do you also embed a conventional link to allow the email recipients to explicitly send a read receipt?

    Thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • We’re not sure yet. We’ll be evaluating the feature’s usage levels and will set plan permissions accordingly.

      You’re right – if you don’t turn on images, it will not generate a read receipt. Right now, there’s no way to enable one, except to enable images.

      Post a Reply
  3. I do notice that sometimes I get a “mail read” notice shortly after I have opened an email that I sent. Is it possible that my opening the email I sent is triggering a false “read” indication?

    Post a Reply
    • It’s definitely possible. We do a little bit of black magic to try to make sure that your own opens don’t show up, but the techniques are squarely in the camp of voodoo!

      Post a Reply
  4. Certainly with your thought.Thank you for your sharing.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the comment! Much appreciated.

      Post a Reply
  5. So I’ve noticed that it only tracks whether the message was opened or not. It doesn’t track WHO opened it? If I have 10 receipients on the email, how do I tell who opened / read vs who did not?

    thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Michael,

      That’s correct. We cannot track who has opened the email out of 10 recipients on the same email. There isn’t a way to do it technically that will be accurate. Our suggestion is to send those emails separately if knowing which recipient has read the email is critical to you.

      Post a Reply
  6. what if the recipient chooses not to provide a read receipt. Will this automatically exclude them from read receipt when future email being sent to him or her? Is it possible to find out?

    Thank you

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Phuong,

      It will not exclude automatically from future emails being sent to the same recipient. They will have to opt out of read receipt for every email.

      Post a Reply
  7. If someone does not open the email per say and just clicks the box to forward to someone else and they read it would that show up? Make sense?

    On mobile gmail there are little click boxes. You can click box and move to folder or delete or forward. It they choose to forward without opening the email what we get in respects to that?

    Thanks

    Post a Reply

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