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Handy "How Tos"

How to track “mailto” link clicks in your email campaigns.

  Gregg Blanchard     January 10, 2024    

So you've that email campaign built beautifully, you've tested it in your favorite pre-flight tool, your segment is clean and perfectly targeted, you hit send and sit back to watch the juicy stats roll in.

Everything looks good but for some reason you don't see any stats for that mailto link you included. You pull up the test email again to double check, but instead of that mailto link being converted to a slick tracking link like all your other links, it shows up as a plain, ordinary mailto link!

Maybe it was up in the hero area or maybe it was just a link to support in the footer, but you are really curious how many people are clicking on that link. So, what do you do if your ESP doesn't support that?

How to Track Mailto Link Clicks

You've got a few options when it comes to tracking clicks on the mailto links in your email campaigns, but the most effective I've seen is to use the TinyURL link shortening service.

Now, before you run off any try this on Bit.ly or T.ly or whatever, I've tested mailto links on over a dozen different link shorteners and the only one that can correctly handle mailto links is TinyURL. There's a certain way you've gotta handle these and they've figured out that certain way.

There are three steps.

Step 1: Create Your Mailto Link

First, create a simple mailto link by placing the email address you want folks to be able to send messages to after mailto and a colon. So - mailto:me@mydomain.com - for example.

Step 2: Paste That String Into the TinyURL Shotener

Head over to https://tinyurl.com/app and paste your mailto link into the "Shorten a long URL" field and click "Shorten URL".

screenshot of tinyurl

Third, use the new URL instead of a mailto in your campaign.

TinyURL will generate a shortened link for you. Just use that in your email campaign in place of your traditional mailto link and you'll be all set. Your ESP will track that link like a normal link, but when folks click they will be forwarded to the mailto link.

screenshot of confirmation

You're good to go!

The Catch

So what's the catch? Well, keep in mind that your recipients are reading this in their inbox. If they click a normal mailto link their inbox will just open the "compose email" window right then. But because the link tracking happens in the browser, not the inbox, clickers will be taken to a browser window first, the link will redirect through the tracking info, and then they'll be taken to the "compose email" window.

On mobile, it will likely prompt them with something like this.

On desktop, depending on whether they're using a browser-based on desktop application email client, it may send them back into the app or it may just open the "compose email" window in a new tab like this.

gmail compose window

In other words, there are small tradeoffs.

  • A normal mailto link won't be trackable, but will be a smoother experience for the clicker.
  • A trackable mailto link will give you data, but it won't be quick as smooth for the clicker.

There's no right answer here, you've just gotta look at your own situation and decide on the best approach for your team. This post can't answer that for you, it's simply meant to show you how to track those mailto clicks. Hopefully it's done that so at least you know it's possible.