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Gmail (the free email tool from Google) recently introduced changes to cache images on all emails, which should result in a faster experience.

Gone are the days you need to click “Display images” in Gmail! However, this has also sparked fears that it renders tracking used by email marketing companies completely useless. This isn’t true.

Many companies, including lots of our clients, use email marketing systems such as Campaign Monitor to manage mailing lists and send out emails to their customers. Such tools include useful reporting, including things like how many people have opened the email and where users are from geographically. Email open rates is particularly useful data which companies use to measure the effectiveness of their email campaign.

Technically this reporting is achieved via tracking images embedded in the email, and the fear was Google’s image caching would disable this. The image caching does affect the ability to track some data, but open rates are still available via most email marketing systems. Certainly this data is still currently available from many marketing email service providers as Andrew Bonar recently wrote on the issue. The image caching does, however, remove any geographic and device data for all users via Gmail. Campaign Monitor says this is around 3% of all email users, though this will vary depending on your mailing list subscribers.

In all, the change from Google doesn’t seem to have affected email marketing systems quite as much as some had thought. The change seems to be driven by Google wanting to create a better user experience for their users which is always a good thing. So keep on emailing!