Email-Tracking Apps: Helpful or Harmful For Freelance Writers?

Email-Tracking Apps: Helpful or Harmful For Freelance Writers?

Email tracking apps are crucial to my pitching routine.

The apps use customer relationship management (CRM) to track analytics for the emails I send.

Major companies like Uber and Yelp use email tracking to improve their interactions with customers. The same concept can be applied for freelance writers working with clients or pitching new outlets.

For instance, the apps notifiy me every time a recipient opens my email. They also tell me which type of device the recipient used to open the email.

These apps tell me which editors who don’t reply to my pitches actually do open my emails.

If a specific pitch is opened with radio silence, even by editors who would typically respond, it likely needs to be honed and revised.

Email tracking also tells me which editors never open my emails at all.

Tired of wondering if your query fell into the email abyss? Here are three email-tracking apps to consider incorporating into your pitching routine.

1. MailTrack

“I’ve been using the Chrome extension of MailTrack and having a love/hate relationship with it,” explained freelance writer Ama Scriver.

“Since it’s the basic version, it embeds oddly into my email and leaves huge spacing issues,” she explains. “Or I want to take out the ‘tracked by…,’ but [the signature is] embedded in the bottom of each email. Sometimes, [it’s] in weird places that I haven’t been able to find it and sent with it on, which is frustrating.”

“Obviously, this is more user-error because I like how the tool works otherwise,” she said. “I will say this much: It’s not 100 percent accurate. Either way, it helps a lot.

Price: Free for basic version; $4.12 per month and up if you want to remove the “tracked by” signature.

2. Streak

Streak offers more complex features compared to MailTrack, because the app was originally created to increase sales. For instance, Streak offers custom templates to automate replies and the ability to share your inbox with colleagues.

“Streak is invisible and unlimited, or close to it,” explained independent journalist Ryan Lenora Brown. “I previously used Boomerang for read receipts, but it had a monthly cap on messages you could track.”

Similar to MailTrack, Streak also added an unappealing signature to the bottom of sent emails. “[Boomerang] also placed a piece of text in the bottom of the email telling the person it was tracked and that they could opt out,” Brown added.

Price: Free for the basic version that allows 200 tracked emails per month; additional features beginning at $19 per month.

3. Yesware

Like Streak, Yesware was created for sales and content management professionals. However, this particular app provides real-time analytics within your inbox, similar to a blogging dashboard.

Writer Meryl Williams uses Yesware because, ”it’s nice to see when things get opened.” The app allows her follow up with a current editor or decide to move on to another.

“It’s also a double-edged sword,” she adds.

There’s a lot of anxiety associated with who opens your emails and who doesn’t, especially when editors open your emails multiple times without replying.

Price: Starts at $15 per month.

Why some writers hate email-tracking apps

Williams isn’t the only one concerned with the extra anxiety email tracking apps can attract. Some writers stay away from email tracking apps intentionally.

“As someone with anxiety, I would never use it,“ said writer Shannon Luders-Manuel. “After all, it feels better to think something didn’t get placed because it got lost in a sea of messages than because an editor opened it and didn’t think it was worthy of a response.”

Additionally, at Contently, Julie Schwietert Collazo touches upon how these email tracking apps can do more harm than good: “While Streak may take away some of the mystery of what happens once a freelancer hits ‘Send’ on a pitch, it doesn’t do anything at all to promote a response, which is, after all, the ultimate end game.” She seems to lean toward the argument that ignorance is bliss.

How to use email trackers wisely

Undoubtedly, these tools are best used from a business lens.

It’s important to consider how often you’re pitching new-to-you editors. If you’re in frequent contact with a steady list of clients, you likely won’t need an email tracker.

In the end, you don’t need these apps to be a successful freelancer. However, it can come in handy if you’re curious to know if new editors ever open your emails.

Sometimes, I cold-pitch to larger, more mainstream outlets without any reply. Later, another publication will pick up my story. If my pitches are later getting accepted by other publications, I know they’re worth reading. The radio silence isn’t personal.

If an editor doesn’t respond to your pitch in a reasonable amount of time, consider bumping them further down on your list of places to pitch. Alternatively, pitch to a different editor at the publication if possible, preferably a deputy or managing editor.

Many editors are overwhelmed with other pitches and submissions, even from freelancers they already know and have previously worked with. Don’t take it personally; it’s not always the pitch itself that forces your email into a black hole.

Do you use email trackers? Do you recommend them to other freelance writers?

Filed Under: Freelancing


  • Mandy says:

    Do editors ever respond poorly to having the email tracked? I don’t want to make a poor first impression with a read receipt request, but it would go a long way towards helping me figure out what editors are opening my emails.

  • Ashri Mishra says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog .I liked the way that you wrote and presented this information.

  • Essay Maker says:

    great post dear, i will wait for your upcoming article in near future.

  • Very interesting! I never really considered using an email tracking app. I don’t think it would be necessary for me because I don’t have the volume of outgoing email that some of the freelancers out there do, but it’s definitely something to consider sometime down the line. Maybe once I start querying the next novel.

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