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Automated Email Tracking

The following sections describe the built-in automation for email marketing and tracking.

Tracking the Number of Emails Opened by Recipients

The method for tracking emails opened by a recipient is implemented by including a 1x1 pixel image in the body of the email.  When a recipient opens the email, this image is requested from the server and each request for this image is tracked.  This is the standard way most email marketing software tracks the number of emails that have been opened by recipients. 

This methodology is unfortunately inherently unreliable, as Outlook and many other e-mail clients do not download images from unknown senders by default.  If the image file is not loaded when the email is opened, there will be no request for the image file sent to the server, and it will not be possible to track if the email was opened or not.  This is a problem faced by all standard email marketing software and unfortunately cannot be avoided.

Having a trusted relationship with the people you market to will make it more likely that they have enabled images from your company in previous emails or that they will download pictures for your marketing emails to see what you have to say.

When an email is successfully captured as opened using the above method, the Email Status field in the email is updated to Opened, the Email Activities field also has an Opened value appended to it - it is a multivalue field - and the Last Email Status Update field is updated to the current date/time in the Email record. The fields in the Campaigns record that include a count of number of opened emails are also incremented by 1. The Email Status field in the record from which the email was sent is also updated to Opened.

Note that using this technique can lead to warnings from the email client. To disable email marketing image tracking, edit the Disable Marketing Email Image Tracking global variable.

Tracking the Number of Bounced or Undelivered Emails

Another tracking challenge is to capture bounced or undeliverable emails.  Bounce emails are sent back to the return-path address when an outbound email is rejected by the receiving server.  This necessitates setting up an inbound account that will capture this information, as described above under Setting up Bounced Mail Handling. 

When a bounced email is received by the inbound account, it will mark the original outbound email as defined in the inbound email settings and may forward the information to any identified person or team as per the inbound settings.  If you chose the default configuration for bounced emails, it will also change the Email Status field to Bounced.  It will also increment a number field in the linked campaign tracking the number of bounced emails by 1.  It will also set the field defined as the Email Status field for the record from which the email was sent to the status of Bounced.

Once the Email Status of an email recipient has been marked as bounced, they will be automatically excluded by default, based on the default checkbox in the email dialogue that says to exclude previously bounced addresses, in future marketing emails. 

Tracking the Clicking of Links Within Emails

Agiloft can track the links clicked by a recipient in an email they receive. The links may be either normal URL hyperlinks, or they may be Agiloft hyperlinks.  When email marketing is turned on, any hyperlink that is included in an email within a command is formatted with some additional code that makes that URL a redirect from the Agiloft Server, so that the click can be tracked.

If you simply insert the text for a hyperlink in in the body of your email without enclosing it in an HTML 'a href ' link, as in adding the text "www.agiloft.com", while the mail client may still display it as a link that can be clicked, the link clicks will not be tracked.

Whenever a link is clicked, the information is passed to the Agiloft server and a new record is created in the Email Clicks table.  The Email Clicks record will contain the actual URL the link redirected to, the linked campaign, a link to the source record from which the email was sent, and links to other fields in the outbound email - the Lead Name, Email, and so on.  It is also possible to add other fields to this table and populate them using a default value or rules to get more information into the records.

The Email Click records are shown as an embedded table within the source tables, so you can see all the links a particular lead or a particular contact clicked within their contact record. They are also shown within the campaign record, so you can see the links that were most popular for a particular campaign.

The Email Clicks table is configured by default to link to the source Lead or Contact record, using a field called Source Record ID.  This field is of the type "link to single field from multiple tables".  If you have other tables from which you plan to send marketing emails, you should edit this field to add those tables and their ID field.  That way, the system will be able to track the source record for your own tables as well.

In addition to creating the Email Click record, the system updates the Email Status fields in the Email table and in the Contact or Lead table from which it was sent to Link Clicked and increments the number field counting clicked links in the campaign. In a given campaign, it is possible to have a larger number of Email Clicks than the number of sent emails, because there may be multiple links in a single email and users may click on more than one link.  Any link they click is represented by a separate Email Click record, while the field called Number of Recipients who Clicked links will be limited to only one count per email. 

Tracking Unsubscribes

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 states that a person or company may be sued or fined for sending unsolicited email that does not include both the organization's physical address and a way to unsubscribe or opt out of receiving future emails. The Email Marketing module includes a way for recipients to unsubscribe from emails.

Unsubscribe behavior is defined when configuring outbound email per table on the Marketing tab. Depending on how the unsubscribe behavior is defined, the server will not only mark a given email's Email Status as Unsubscribed when a user clicks the Unsubscribe link, but it may also update a designated "opt out" field in the corresponding table and record to which the email was sent. 

Either way, the source lead or contact who requested the unsubscribe can be eliminated by searching for an Email Status value of Unsubscribed or by searching your custom opt out field, and any future mass emails will automatically exclude the contacts whose Email Status is Unsubscribed. 

If the email that was unsubscribed was linked to a campaign, the Number of Unsubscribes field in the campaign will also be incremented when the user unsubscribes.

Unsubscribing and updating the fields does not actually prevent manual emails from being sent to these contacts, of course, so if you want to ensure that they are never emailed, you might design a rule that blanks out the email address of contacts whose Email Status is changed to Unsubscribed so they may not be emailed inadvertently by a user.