Request Return Receipt (email)?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Peter C. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

How can I tell if a recipient has opened my email message? I have checked 'request return receipt' in my email program (is this the function I need)? I have sent a number of messages using the 'request return receipt' feature, but to this day I have have no indication that the person has read my emails. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. "

My response:

A 'Return Receipt' is a *request* which only works works if the person who receives your email clicks "OK" to acknowledge opening your letter. The problem is: if they answer "No" to your return receipt request, you'll have no way of knowing if they've opened your letter! This kind of defeats the purpose, don't you think? ;-)

Speaking from experience (and I'm sure many of you will agree!): whenever I see an unexpected PopUp window ask me something, I immediately click "No" without ever reading the dialogue so that I can get back to what I was doing previously. My reasoning for automatically clicking "No" is simply because I'm used to clicking "No" whenever I'm surfing the web for fear that clicking "Yes" may install a virus on my computer or lead me to an undesirable web site. Hence, I believe the same ideology holds true for email Return Receipt Requests. People just automatically click "No!"

Getting back to your question --

Is there a better way to Request Return Receipts for email?

The answer is: Yes. But the only true way to do this is to insert a tracking mechanism (an invisible graphic, for example) into your email. When your letter is opened up on the recipient's computer, the invisible graphic -- which is hosted on a remote web server -- is requested for viewing and is then displayed in the recipients letter. The remote web server then notifies you that the special invisible graphic has been requested and therefore your letter has been opened.

Since the invisible graphic must be available at all times (so that it can be requested and therefore tracked), there is no way to get around the fact that you need a remote web server to do the tracking. There are a few programs I've seen out and about that can track emails using a remote web server, and by far, the best service to date is offered by MsgTag Status. A while back a did a review on the program, and you can read about that here:

MsgTag Status Review

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