Believe it or not, there are a number of technology solutions currently on the market that can provide you with this information, as well as offer a whole lot more advanced tracking capabilities and functionality--- all of which are typically transparent and undetectable by the email recipients. For example, some of the applications will not only notify you of the exact data and time your email was opened, but will also provide you with the physical geographic location and IP address of the recipient’s computer (Nigerian scammers beware!), the apparent email address of the recipient (useful if people use free email accounts and then forward the email to their business accounts or vice versa or use email aliases) , any URL’s contained in your email that are clicked through (great to monitor the effectiveness of your latest email campaign), the duration that the email was read, and if your email was forwarded or read on a different computer (very useful to track confidential of proprietary information that might be passed onto a competitor).
Some of the more advanced applications can also provide all of the above tracking information on your individual email attachments to include PDF’s, Word and Excel documents. So, if you sent a prospect a proposal as a PDF, not only would all of the above be capable, but you could receive this information at the page level! In other words, you would be able to determine the duration and frequency that each page was read. Hmmmm, why was this prospect spending so much time reading the section that contained our pricing?
In addition, some applications even allow for the restriction of certain activities. For example, you can restrict a recipient from printing or forwarded your email. Or, some allow for the sender to specify a time duration in which the email will self-destruct within an elapsed time after it has been read. Poof, now you see it, now you don’t!.
Most offer some type of Outlook plug-in that allows the sender to specify the “treatment” level for each email and well as turn-off the tracking features. Since most companies charge on a per email tracked basis (usually fractions of a penny per email), you may want to track only important emails.
Lastly, there are a number of ways to receive these notifications. Web portal sites are common, as well as the ability to receive alerts by email, Instant Message or SMS to your cell phone.