Do you like cookie banners? You don’t – and you ignore them by clicking on “Accept all” to read the content of the website. These cookies are trackers that follow you around the internet and record your browsing patterns. This is mass surveillance and it is industry standard. If you care about your privacy, you can install apps and browser extensions that block these trackers. Ok, that’s common knowlege for most – but do you know that many companies and individuals invaded your email inbox too?
That’s right, they use spy trackers in emails and they use them without your consent. These spy trackers report when you open an email, how many times you open it and they collect all the data that they can record. This data includes your location, your email client, your operating system, your device type and your IP address.
Based on this information, companies send pushy emails to people who open an email multiple times to trick them into buying things that they don’t need. They increase prices on their website if they know that you use a brand new phone or sell your data to other advertisers by ranking your email address. If you get multiple newsletters, your email address is probably flagged as a good buyer and so they send you more newsletters than other customers.
A spy tracker is a small and transparent image that is in your email. When you open the email, your email client or browser downloads the image and tells the spy everything about you.
The email client requests the image from a server and this request includes the name and type about the requesting application. With this information, these surveillance companies can detect which operating system, device and app you use to download the image. The request also reveals your IP address because this is required to establish a connection to the server.
IP addresses are sold in blocks to providers all over the world and this information is publicly available. This means that if your provider is from Germany and uses their IP block dedicated to customers in Berlin, the surveillance company knows your geographic region.
Unfortunately, that is not the only way of spying on you.
Companies go beyond this invasive pixel and track every click on every link in an email. So if you use an email provider or email client that filters spy trackers, they still get your data if you click on a link – and you can’t do anything about it.
If you click on a link, that looks like trustworthyshop.com/fancy-product, you first visit a website like spying-service.com/4b98ebca-1b30-4d7d-8aed-e22151840844.
In this case, 4b98ebca-1b30-4d7d-8aed-e22151840844 is an identifier that their marketing platform created for you and this link. It is unique for every subscriber and every link and when you click on the link, they can collect the same information about you that they collected with the spy tracker.
When they got your data, they redirect you to the requested website and this process happens so fast that you don’t even realize what they did. At the end, the company that uses this surveillance-based marketing knows how many times you opened an email and which links you clicked. Based on this information, they can show you more ads and push you into buying things that you don’t need.
If you are reading this article and publish your own newsletter or just think that marketing teams need data to create better products, let’s be honest. Products won’t be improved because someone opened an email 5 times and clicked on a link 3 times. The only reason to collect this data is sending you additional emails until you buy, but this data is not required to improve anything.
There are more ethical ways of getting useful information about the performance of your emails without spying on individual users. Let’s introduce UTM Tags.
As a sender, you can add UTM parameters to links and receive their data on your website. That means that your website can collect data about the links in your email – without knowing who clicked on a link in detail. This makes anonymous tracking possible and ethical. If you pair these links with an ethical and privacy-oriented analytics service like Fathom Analytics, you get useful data and learn if your email performed well without spying on users.
So is it enough to disable open- and click-tracking for your emails? Nope – you spyed on your subscribers and lost their trust. You invaded their inbox without their permission and it’s just a click of a button to activate your old spying tactics again.
We at SendStack believe that individual open- and click-tracking are surveillance methods of subscribers and we fight for a better internet. This is why we don’t offer these spy tactics to our customers.
Being the only newsletter platform that puts the privacy of subscribers first allows our customers to connect with their audience and build meaningful trust with them.
For subscribers, Sent with SendStack is a unique seal of trust for your brand and exposes your values directly in the opt-in email.
As a writer, SendStack provides all the tools that you need to write editorial style newsletters. You can write your emails in Markdown, segment your subscribers with tags and build your audience with confidence.