- Outreach Admins
There are multiple reasons to why the open rate for emails may be inflated. Typically, we see that an open rate approaching 100% is the result of some program opening and viewing the emails to search for and protect against spam.
We track email opens using an invisible tracking pixel that's inserted into each email. Every time that pixel is loaded, our system gets a ping that counts an open against that specific email. Because that ping is sent whenever this pixel is loaded, not only when the prospect opens the email and reads it, there are a few possible causes of false-positive opens.
- Outgoing mail server filters: If your own IT admins have set up outgoing mail scanning, these scans can count as an email open. This happens especially often with emails that contain hyperlinks or attachments, as security filters typically check these for malicious content. This is the most common reason that you'll see many emails all opened simultaneously, especially if the messages were sent to different recipients at different companies
- Email Service Providers scanning outbound messages. This is most often performed for new mailboxes, those who have a recent uptick in mailing activity (such as through Outreach automated messaging,) and those mailboxes that have been flagged for suspicious/spam activity. Email Service Providers conduct random scanning on a temporary basis for a certain percentage of mailboxes, this is not something that can typically be disabled and is done to prevent the use of their platform by spammers
- Recipient spam filters: If you send an email to a recipient who has email scanning set up (as many do), the spam filter itself may "open" the email during the security scanning process
- Opening emails from the 'Sent' folder: If the sender opens the email from their Outlook/Gmail Sent folder, the tracking pixel may be loaded and can register an Open. To review sent emails, open them in Outreach itself, not in your email client, as opening messaging within Outreach will never generate an open notification
- A tracking pixel was copied from an email already sent to a prospect accidentally and embedded somewhere else. This can happen if a sender copies content from one of their sent emails to paste into a new template or sequence (or even their signature.) Typically if this happens, anytime a message was opened, there will be an open attributed to the initial prospect. To avoid this, messaging should never be copied from a message already sent to a prospect without pasting-as-plain-text to remove the tracking pixel
- A CC/BCC'd recipient opened the email: If anyone opens the email, even if they were not the primary recipient, it will load the tracking pixel and count as an open for the primary recipient prospect
- Opening bounced messages from your inbox: This is less common, but if an email bounces and the sender opens that bounce notification, the full email is often embedded below which includes the tracking pixel.
- A recipient forwarded your email: If a recipient forwards your email to another person, each forwarded view counts as an open since the tracking pixel is sent along as well.
- The sender or recipient viewed the email from a preview pane: If anyone viewed the email by hovering in a preview pane (such as the one in Gmail), this can count as an open since the pixel can be rendered in that panel.
- A third-party integration or browser extension is opening and scanning your outbound messages to check for spam or for its own reporting purposes. Unfortunately, any time an email is opened, this will register as an open on this message, even if it is from a scanning / tracking tool. In order for the data within Outreach to be accurate surrounding open tracking, we must be the only tool that is tracking opens on your messaging, as any other tool may be causing false-positives.
- Apple's Mail Privacy Protection Program: This program involves downloading outbound messaging to Apple's servers and then the messaging being loaded from Apple's servers when the recipient opens the message. This can result in an open notification when the messaging is initially downloaded to Apple's servers. This is a feature that some Apple devices and versions of iOS offer, so if your mailbox is connected to any Apple device, this function needs to be disabled within your device settings to allow these messages to be accurately tracked
The technology we use for tracking emails is industry standard and provides great overall insights, but because there is a possibility for false-positive opens being generated by a spam filter or another mechanism, open tracking is best used to determine trends at scale, not to say with 100% accuracy whether a prospect actually opened and read a specific message.