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Granicus Insights

How are Opens Tracked?

When you use Communications Cloud to send a bulletin, the system tracks how many of your subscribers are opening your bulletin. This article covers what exactly counts as an "open", how open-tracking works, and answers some common questions around this subject.

What Constitutes an Open?

With the way modern email inboxes work, defining an "open" isn't as simple as saying that a subscriber clicked on your email. For an open to be recorded, the embedded web beacon included in the bulletin must render. This means that the subscriber must download images in the bulletin they receive in order for the open to to be tracked. Some inboxes are configured to display only a preview of emails, with no images displayed. The subscriber must click a link to download or display the images.


Embedded Web Beacon - A small 1x1 pixel image that is automatically inserted into your sent bulletins. Each subscriber receives a unique web beacon. When the subscriber downloads the web beacon, it is tracked as an Open. Web Beacons are the industry standard for tracking email open rates.

How are Opens Reported in GovDelivery?

You can see how many of your subscribers are opening your bulletin by viewing the Bulletin Detail Report for your sent bulletin. Opens are tracked on two metrics, "Unique Opens" and "Total Opens."   

  • Total Opens - Number of times a bulletin has been opened by email recipients.
  • Unique Opens - Number of bulletins opened by recipients for the first time. If a subscriber opens a bulletin twice they would have one Unique and two Total Opens. 

When are Opens Not Tracked?

If a subscriber does not download images in a bulletin or receives a text-only version of the email, they do not download the web beacon and we are unable to track an open for that subscriber.

Additionally, please note that by default, most Communications Cloud accounts have open- and link click-tracking enabled. However, if your organization requested this feature to be disabled, these metrics will not be available in your reports.


Q. How is it possible for a subscriber to have a link click but not have an open recorded? 

If a subscriber does not download images we are unable to track the open but if they click on a link we are still able to record the link click as that is tracked through a different method. 

Q. Why do some of my subscribers have a much higher number of total opens? 

The web beacon sent to a subscriber is tied specifically to their subscriber profile. If a subscriber forwards the bulletin that they receive to a group of individuals (or if you are emailing a distribution list email which delivers the bulletin to multiple individuals), every person who opens that bulletin is opening the same bulletin sent to the subscriber. This means they are also downloading that same web beacon. As a result, all of the opens are recorded as belonging to the original recipient of the bulletin. 

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