For the longest time, Gmail and many other web-based e-mail providers have disabled showing pictures by default. This, of course, has everything to do with security. Many security and anti-spam operations figured out that one of the best ways to deliver their payload, which is basically a URL in front of a million of eyeballs, is to send a picture. You have to send links because they are automatically filtered from the deemed suspicious by web-based e-mail providers.
Providers would, however, show the pictures thus providing many spammers an even bolder way to spread their garbage: link the pictures. This strategy has even come to the point where pictures that look like those of official banking websites are attached, thus fooling unsuspecting victims. The moment you click or access the site that you’d go to, your personal information gets stolen.
Web-based e-mail providers got sick of this so they started turning off message images by default. This, of course, has major consequences. One is that, it makes it more difficult for many auto-responder services or e-mail distributor services to track the effectiveness of the email campaign e based on the placement of the small pixel image in an e-mail. If, for example, Gmail doesn’t automatically open or show the images, you would think that the e-mail sent was not opened even though it was.
For the longest time this caused a lot of confusion in the email marketing business. People didn’t know how much of the e-mail was actually being opened since all they can see are the people who clicked on the link. This has a very dramatic impact on how marketers would compose their e-mails and the elements that are being added on their emails.
Thankfully, Gmail has reached a secured enough stage that can show pictures. As a result, more and more marketers are seeing accurate numbers regarding their open rates. The higher the open rates, the better campaign, of course- this is good news.
The bad news, however, is that Gmail has automatically filtered promotional e-mails. So, if you’re being under a promotional tab of your recipient, chances are, e-mails will not be read. Google takes away and Google gives. This is the price to pay for dealing with Gmail. Still, this breakthrough of being able to track open rates using images can really be a powerful reference for many email marketers.