Why we do not recommend link tracking

Link tracking – what's the trouble?

Link tracking (also called click tracking) is great for knowing who clicked the link in your emails – this is great for statistics, as well as determining who might be interested in your offer. This might, however, negatively affect the deliverability of your emails, since such links are being filtered by email service providers.

Think about the link such as woodpecker.co that takes you to amazon.com when you open it – not very cool, is it? There can be literally any website in the place of amazon.com, including a plethora of harmful ones. The problem is, link tracking needs this same redirect mechanism to work properly.

Here's how it works: a user who opens the tracked link is taken through a kind of web gateway. The user cannot see that gateway (only the web address changes in the process), and is taken to the actual website right away, but this is enough for the system to record a "click" from a user for you.

Redirects can be used to track link clicks this way, but they are also used by spammers and scammers to take advantage of unaware users, redirecting them to dangerous web content. For that reason, companies like Google protect their users by monitoring and filtering out messages that contain redirect links. (You can read more about Google's "Spam and suspicious emails" policy here.)

With a little bit of know-how, you can easily distinguish between "clean" and tracked links. (Remember, so can your prospects.)

How to check if a link is tracked (contains a redirect)?

  1. Move your cursor over the link in the message.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, you will see a the full address of that link, whereas:
    • if the link is going to redirect you to another page (for the purpose of tracking or otherwise), it will be different than what it appears in the message itself.
    • if the link is "clean", with no redirects, and goes straight to the specified page, it will be about the same as the one displayed in the message.

Is there some better practice for link tracking?

Yes: a link might be added to a text fragment, just like this one.

While the one here simply takes you to a related article, you can also use this to your advantage with link tracking – text fragments containing tracking links do not pass through strict filtering, and they won't impact your deliverability as much.

You can read more about link tracking in Woodpecker in the following blog post: How to Safely Track Links in Cold Emails

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