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A Better Sales Alternative to Sending Read Receipts in Gmail | Email Tracking

Email has been a useful sales tool for prospecting for decades. However, today’s digitally-savvy buyers expect more personalized approaches when it comes to vendor outreach.

Salesforce’s 2018 State of Sales report echoes this, with 72% of business buyers expecting personalized engagements suited to their needs.

Salesforce’s 2018 State of Sales report

One powerful strategy to give prospects the experience they desire, and supercharge your email campaigns, is implementing email read receipts.

G Suite offers a cost-effective solution through Gmail read receipts — although the feature has its limitations.

You’ll want to implement an email tracking tool like Cirrus Insight for a more robust and sophisticated experience.

To help you get familiar with Gmail read receipts and share a better email tracking solution for sales, we’ll be going over:

  • What a Gmail read receipt is
  • How to request a read receipt in Gmail
  • How to return a read receipt in Gmail
  • How to send an inconspicuous read receipt in Gmail with Cirrus Insight’s email tracking feature

What Is a Gmail Read Receipt?

A Gmail read receipt is a tool in the inbox that enables senders to receive an email notification if-and-when a recipient opens that specific email. It’s a powerful sales tool that allows you to gain insight into whether your prospect is opening the newsletters you send — including information regarding the time when they open the emails. Using this data, the sender can tailor email follow-ups accordingly.

To use this feature as a sender, you must:

  • Use a work or school Gmail account, not a personal address
  • Have the administrator (admin) of your G Suite business account enable user access
Screenshot of GMail

Only then can you request a read receipt when composing an email — which we’ll explain how to do shortly.Email read receipts screenshot.Please note, read receipts must be enabled each time you send a new email, and Gmail will only deliver receipts for messages sent to individual addresses in the To and cc fields.

It will not send read receipt requests to a mailing list, aliases, or recipients in the bcc field.

You can usually get a Gmail read receipt without the recipient knowing that you’ve requested it. However, some email clients require the recipient to return a receipt manually. In this case, they would be notified of your request and select whether they want to send you that information.

Advantages of Gmail Read Receipts

  • Cost-effective: This is a native Gmail feature for G Suite accounts, and does not incur extra costs like an email tracking tool would.
  • Delivery insights: Find out who opened your email newsletter and the time at which it was opened to help tailor your follow-up approach.
  • Better timed follow-ups: Understanding when a prospect has opened your message enables you to send more timely follow-ups when they’re thinking about working with your company.

Disadvantages of Gmail Read Receipts

  • Admin controlled access: The ability to use this feature relies on admin controls, which complicates the process.
  • No return notification guarantee: If the recipient’s admin controls don’t allow automatic receipts, there’s no guarantee that they will manually approve the request.
  • Time-consuming: With no bulk send or automation options, enabling the feature for each email and individual addresses can take a chunk of time — if you even remember to do it in the first place.

How to Request a Read Receipt in Gmail

To request a read receipt in Gmail, follow these simple steps:

1. Open Gmail on your computer and log in to your work or school account.

2. Click the Compose button with the + icon at the top left of your inbox.

Gmail Compose Message

3. Add the appropriate recipient email addresses in the To and cc fields (if applicable), then add your email subject line and body copy.

Pro Tip: To save time, use a carefully crafted Cirrus Insight email template and personalize it accordingly.

4. Click the three vertical dot icon at the bottom right of the Compose window to display more options.

Send Message

5. Select Request read receipt from the pop-up list.Request read receipt screeshot.

6. Click the blue Send button at the bottom left of the Compose window to deliver your message.

Important: If you’ve received a reply to an email, but the Gmail read receipt is not showing, Gmail offers a read receipt troubleshooting list.

How to Return a Read Receipt in Gmail

Depending on your G Suite organizational settings, your account may be sending read receipts automatically.

If you receive a request for a read receipt and need to approve it, here’s how to return the request:

1. Open Gmail on your computer and log in to your work account.

2. Go through your emails.

3. If a read receipt is requested for a specific email, a pop-up will appear after opening the email with the prompt: One or more senders in this conversation have requested a read receipt.

4. Click on the blue Send receipts button to send the notification to the sender immediately.

You can also select the grey Not now button to be prompted again the next time you open the email.

How to Send an Inconspicuous Read Receipt in Gmail with Email Tracking

The read receipt feature in Gmail is a great sales tool for beginners and small teams.

But how can you tell if an email has been read in Gmail without a read receipt?

Here’s the good news:

If you’re looking for increased functionality, less conspicuous tracking, and more intuitive email insights — email tracking is an excellent alternative.

What is Email Tracking?

Email tracking is a standard marketing and sales strategy that uses software to monitor and analyze an email’s delivery to an intended recipient.

It differs from a Gmail read receipt in that it works behind the scenes to inconspicuously send notifications to senders. Usually, it offers more insightful details (i.e., open rates, times, and link click-through rates).

How do software tools track an email?

An invisible tracker — really, a one pixel by one pixel image — gets downloaded when a user opens the message.

Cirrus Insight offers both email and link tracking to help you determine when a lead is hot with information to help you personalize your follow-up strategy and close more deals.

The Benefits of Email and Link Tracking for Sales

Email and link tracking offer many invaluable benefits for sales teams.

Here are a few key advantages to consider:

  • Specific context: If a prospect opens your email or clicks on a link several times, it can indicate higher interest.
  • Personalized follow-ups: If you notice a prospect has opened a specific link, you can provide more customized insight around that content.
  • Outreach methodology insight: If you notice a prospect never opens your email newsletters, it can suggest that cold-calling that contact is a better outreach method.

How to Enable Email and Link Tracking with Cirrus Insight

Here’s how to send an inconspicuous read receipt in Gmail with Cirrus Insight.

First, you have to enable the feature in your inbox:

1. Click on the wrench icon at the top right of the blue Cirrus Insight sub-navigation bar. This will take you to Settings.

2. Under the Email section on the left side panel, click on Tracking.


3. Check the boxes for both Enable Email Tracking and Enable Link Tracking.

Now you will receive relevant data from both of these features.

4. To turn email tracking on by default — rather than enabling it for each email — check the box that says: Track Emails by Default.

5. To receive real-time notifications when a recipient opens your email, check the box that says: Enable Real Time Notifications.


You will now receive browser push-notifications when an email has been opened.

6. Send your message to your prospects like normal.

Once enabled, these are just a few metrics you’ll get with Cirrus Insight’s email receipts:

  • When an email has been opened
  • How many times an email has been opened
  • The times at which the email was opened or a link was clicked
  • The location of the recipient when the email was opened
  • The reply rate

For a birds-eye view on email performance overall, Cirrus Insight offers an analytics dashboard in the blue Tracking tab at the top of your inbox. Here, you can analyze open rates, reply rates, and click-through rates.

Widen the search or get more granular by changing the time stamp to show:

  • The last seven days
  • The last 14 days
  • The last 30 days
  • The last three months

This information is provided solely to allow salespeople to personalize engagements and create more intuitive and efficient outreach strategies.

Final Thoughts: How to Send an Inconspicuous Read Receipt in Gmail

Read receipts are an effective sales tool for supercharging your email campaign strategy. Gmail read receipts are a great option for small teams or budget-friendly businesses.

But, if your question is “How can you tell if an email has been read in Gmail without a read receipt,” there are other, better sales alternatives that offer improved functionality and data insights.

With email tracking through Cirrus Insight, you can send an inconspicuous read receipt in Gmail and gain access to in-depth tracking analytics. Start your Free 14 Day Trial.

Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman

5+ years of content writing for companies such as Cirrus Insight, Automattic, HubSpot, Sprout Social, Bluehost, Wix, and more. My background in WordPress web design contributes to a well-rounded understanding of SEO and how to connect brands to relevant search prospects.

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