E-mail tracking has been done since the early 1990s. Sometimes when we open an e-mail, there is a marketer on the other end tracking your location and which links you click. These marketers are usually using tools that cost $100s a month to use. But what about the personal user? What is the best e-mail tracking service for personal use?

There are a handful of free e-mail tracking services. GetNotify.com, MailTrack.io, and BananaTag.com were three I covered for the purpose of writing this article. GetNotify.com works simply by adding .getnotify.com to the end of any e-mail. The other two integrate with your e-mail through the use of extensions. All three of them came with caveats or didn’t work.

GetNotify.com was the first e-mail tracking service I tested. It sports an outdated interface but is frequently talked about on blogs. I found it in LifeHack’s article titled, “29 Incredibly Useful Websites You Wish You Knew About Earlier.”

After signing up, the service will work by appending .getnotify.com to the end of an e-mail address. Like all e-mail tracking services, GetNotify adds a tracking pixel to the e-mail. When the pixel is downloaded from their server, they then know that the e-mail is opened. The problem, in our tests, was that Gmail was blocking the pixel until the user clicked “Display images below.”

GetNotify E-mail

There were a few other problems too. The e-mail was unencrpyted (hence the little unlocked icon in the e-mail picture above). Also, the e-mail was sent by GetNotify’s e-mail server named email81.com. The overall appearance of the e-mail was spammy. GetNotify also caps your e-mails to 5 per day.

Since GetNotify didn’t really cut it we kept looking (as we always do). I found two alternatives named MailTrack and BananaTag that had free plans. MailTrack didn’t work. And BananaTag only worked when sending an e-mail to an Outlook account and not a Gmail account.

So although MailTrack and BananaTag looked the most promising with their fancy user interfaces and Chrome extensions, GetNotify ended up being the most reliable.

So I’ll stop here because I’m not particularly excited about writing about services that don’t work properly. You’ll have to keep looking for the best e-mail tracking service for personal use. Either that or fork over $12/month for Yesware.