Tracking user activity via email

Many of our members never visit the website and simply use the email digests. As a result we get zero metrics on who has actually read a post via email.

Is is possible to add a feature that uses a tracking pixel in emails that is tracked through the admin interface so we can get a better insight into user activity.




Not a bad idea! But I don’t know if it will find traction here.

Personally, I use for transactional email and like to use that to keep an eye on who’s opening and clicking links. But it’s not integrated in discourse activity tracking at all.

I’ve changed my mind, based on what @erlend_sh wrote in another topic.

Erlend’s idea, if I understand it correctly, adds on to yours by treating reading posts and messages by email the same way as reading posts and messages by web interface. So members would not see gazillions of notifications when logging in after a long period of using mailing list mode. They would also be taken to the correct spot in discussions based on what they’ve already seen by email.

Don’t know if this can be pulled off, but I like it.

Also, as I wrote there:

It is not really possible to reliably track email “opens”. So it is dangerous to pin your hopes on this.


Using Discourse as a mailing list is already a power-user type feature, so it’s fair to expect site owners to provide their users with some extra educational material on best practices.

Here’s some docs from Mailchimp:

My open rates seem high.

Here are some common issues that can cause your open rates to be too high.

A spam filter is causing high open rates.

Aggressive spam filters will click links in incoming mail before delivering them to make sure there isn’t any malicious content. Our system automatically tracks clicks as opens, and we have no way of differentiating when a click is from a spam filter. This can sometimes lead to an unusually high number of opens from a single domain. If you notice this on your report, it’s likely the result of a spam filter. We recommend you ask your subscribers to whitelist MailChimp’s servers.

Your subscriber forwarded your email.

When your subscribers forward emails through their email client, any opens for the forwarded email are recorded as additional opens for your subscriber. Encourage subscribers to use the Forward to a Friend link instead to accurately track your opens.

Private email domains tend to have more aggressive firewalls and spam filters than Gmail or other free webmail providers. Sometimes, these network firewalls and filters can block your campaigns.

If subscribers from a certain company or private email domain have trouble receiving your MailChimp campaigns, ask them to whitelist MailChimp as a possible solution.

In this article, you’ll learn about whitelisting.

Maybe it’s too niche for core, but I’m sure a lot of email-centric communities would love to have this as a plugin.


What about this instead?


Is there somewhere within Discourse to pull the open and click rates of our digest emails? Or does it have to be hooked up to a third party to pull those numbers? Is it possible for Discourse to pull and send that data to our admins?

At the moment there is nothing built into Discourse. The general practice is to:

  1. Include a “hidden” gif in all emails and use it for tracking, but unfortunately even that has a bunch of false positives cause programs like gmail will preemptively cache images.

  2. Re-wrap all links with a special “tracking” param so you can see who clicked on what link.

I can see us potentially addressing (2) so you can figure out who clicks on which links. But am a bit uneasy about (1).


Thanks Sam! Does Discourse track that information on the backend at all? Or do you know the average open and click rates for digest emails?

Does your email service not provide a dashboard with open, bounce, etc. stats ?

Digests are sent via us for hosted customers.


I have had massive problems with this in a CRM software when the links original url is shown in the email because the re-wrapped url will look like a phishing attempt.

So changing The Discourse website to The Discourse website works fine, but changing to will be eaten up by spam filters (note the underlying urls in these links).


Hi guys, looks like this thread is over two years old, so following up. I’m wondering if we’re still unable to track send size, open rate, and click through rate for Discourse emails?

Correct - this is not built in.

Jeff’s post is still highly relevant.


Great. Thanks for confirming @justin :slight_smile:

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What could be done, perhaps, is to add Google Analytics into email template:

This works, for tracking email opening at least.

Hello! Got a bit of a puzzle happening with setting up GA4 tracking on notification emails.

I’ve tried appending the tracking code to the end of keys sent via email (i.e. %{invite_link}), but Google doesn’t seem to like tracking the source, medium or campaign that I add. I used the Google Campaign URL Builder just to be sure I had everything right, but still no joy.

The resulting link looks like this: URL/invites/sQFAD7aZmE?t=NUMBERNUMBER&utm_source=forum_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=forum_notifications

The traffic shows up in GA as (direct)/(none) when I look for the source/medium. Any ideas?

(I’ve tried cache clearing, using a different browser/computer, etc)