Andrew Milich / 12.01.2022Home / guides

Email marketing and tracking privacy protection

Your email inbox is home to your most sensitive personal and professional communications. Yet, emails are constantly exposed to invasive trackers, spam, and phishing. How can you protect your email?
Holiday promotion email with spying magnifying glass.
Email marketing, spam, and transactional mail have introduced new methods for invading privacy and posing cybersecurity risks. As marketers attempt to optimize metrics and open rates, individual email users - for both personal and corporate emails - are forced to find and use products that protect their privacy.Tracking pixels - tiny images or other content - are frequently embedded in all outbound sales or marketing emails. Beyond tracking email deliverability and conversions, they may also track pernicious and privacy-invasive information, from ip address and location to device type (desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android) and email client used (Gmail, Outlook, etc.).In a world where everything online is tracked, knowing how to protect your privacy, online activity, and email engagement is critical. We’ll cover how email tracking works, how digital marketing relies on invasive tracking data, and how you can protect yourself against this technology using better email clients and settings. During the holiday season, this is particularly important as your inbox is bombarded with offers, sales, and trackers.

What are email trackers?

Email trackers work by inserting a small piece of code into the email that is being sent. This code is invisible to the reader and does not affect the functionality of the email in any way. When the email is opened, the code is activated and sends a report back to the sender detailing when the email was opened and from what location.There are a few different ways that email trackers can be used. One common use is to track whether or not an email has been opened. Open racking can be useful for ensuring that important or marketing emails are being read and responded to. It can also be used to gauge interest in a product or service. If an email about a new product is sent out and no one opens it, that is a good indication that the marketing campaign was ineffective, consumers did not respond to the subject line, or the call to action was not well targeted.With this data collection method, marketers can conduct A/B tests on emails; for example, sending half of an email list subject A and the other half subject B. However, open tracking can be quite invasive; beyond simply sending information about email open rates, they can also include duration, location, device, and far more information, as a user’s device downloads the image or other content used for tracking.Another common use for email trackers is to track how long an email is read for. This information can be used to determine whether or not the recipient is actually reading the email or just quickly scanning it. If the email is only being read for a few seconds, that is a good indication that it is not being given the attention it deserves. A/B testing may also be performed using email content and open durations.Email trackers can also be used to track where the reader is located. This information can be used to determine whether or not the recipient is in the same country as the sender. This can be useful for businesses that want to target their marketing efforts to specific countries.

What are the best email privacy protections?

Email privacy is a major concern for any internet user. In an age where our every move is tracked and monitored, it's important to be mindful of the ways we can keep our information private. Here are some of the best practices for email privacy:1. Use a secure email service.There are a lot of email providers out there, but not all of them are created equal when it comes to security. When choosing an email provider, look for one that offers end-to-end encryption. This means that your emails will be encrypted from the moment you send them until the moment they're received by the intended recipient. This ensures that no one in between can read your emails.Skiff Mail is an easy-to-use, end-to-end encrypted email provider that builds in significant privacy features and protections. No one, not even Skiff, has access to your email content or subjects, and Skiff also proxies all email images to prevent your personal information from being leaked.2. Use a strong password.This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's worth repeating. Your email password should be long, complex, and unique. Avoid using easily guessed words or phrases like your name or birthdate. And never reuse passwords across different accounts. We wrote a longer blog here on using a password manager and strong password.3. Be careful what you click on.Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to gain access to people's accounts. These are emails that look like they're from a legitimate source, but are actually fake. They often contain links or attachments that, if clicked on, will install malware on your computer or give the hacker access to your account. So, be careful what you click on, even if the email looks legitimate.Clicking on a phishing email could inadvertently expose your personal data, account information, or more. Also, once you leave an email service provider inbox (Skiff, Gmail, etc.), you may lose the protections built into these services or into devices (such as Apple devices).4. Use an end-to-end encrypted email productBeyond just choosing a secure email product, choosing an end-to-end encrypted mail product guarantees additional protections. End-to-end encryption means your mail cannot be read by anyone other than the intended recipient. E2EE mail products, such as Skiff Mail, also add additional privacy features to keep your inbox free from invasive tracking; for example, you can add four free aliases that can be used for anonymous and private signup.There are a number of reasons why you should use encrypted email. First, it is a very effective way to protect your privacy. If you are sending confidential or sensitive information, encryption will prevent anyone from reading it except for the intended recipient. This is especially important if you are using email to communicate with clients or customers, as you can be sure that their information will remain confidential.Another reason to use encrypted email is that it can help to prevent identity theft. If your email account is hacked, the hacker will only be able to access your messages if they are also able to decrypt them. This is much more difficult to do with encrypted email, as even an email service provider does not have access to the content of your emails. In the remainder of this blog, we’ll cover more information about encrypted email products that are easy to use, like Skiff Mail.5. Make sure your email software blocks trackers and uses proxy serversWith a rise in tracking and privacy concerns, mail providers have had to go above and beyond in building privacy protections. Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is one example of this; MacOS and iOS users can opt-in to additional privacy protection features based inside their devices and operating systems. Similar to Skiff Mail, which proxies image downloads to ensure your IP address and other information is kept private, Apple’s MPP (Mail Privacy Protection) uses a proxy to download images and external content. Currently, this feature is available on MacOS Monterey and Ventura.To enable MPP, Apple users can visit the preference center on iOS or MacOS, and then navigate to mail settings. From there, Mail Privacy Protection can be enabled (on supported operating system versions).Other privacy features include clients that preload images. By preloading an image, information about the true open time, location, and other details may be obscured. A combination of image preloading and proxying adds significant privacy protections from marketing automations and email marketing campaigns.

What are email aliases and hide my email?

An email alias is an email address that is different from your primary email address but is still linked to your email account. Email aliases are good for privacy because they allow you to have a separate email address for different purposes. For example, you can have an alias for your work email and another alias for your personal email. This way, you can keep your work and personal email separate and your personal email address private.Email aliases are often used for the purpose of privacy. By using an alias, the user can keep their primary email address private. In addition, email aliases can be used to create disposable email addresses. This can be useful when signing up for services that may spam the user's primary email address. By using a disposable email address, the user can avoid having their primary email address spammed, and either unsubscribe via the alias or simply remove an alias from their account.Numerous products allow for multiple aliases, including Skiff Mail, which offers four free aliases; SimpleLogin, which offers a paid plan for extra aliases; and Apple’s hide my email, which creates email aliases that forward to a user’s email account.

Anti-tracking, privacy-first email accounts

Beyond simply adopting new privacy-first features inside your email, there are a number of reasons to want a fully privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted email provider. The most obvious is to protect the contents of your communications from being read by anyone other than the intended recipient. But there are other reasons as well. Encrypted email can also protect the sender and receiver from being identified, and can prevent email tracking.There are a few different ways to achieve end to end encryption for email. One is to use a dedicated email encryption service, such as Skiff, ProtonMail, or Tutanota. These services provide their own web-based interface for email, and encrypt all communications end to end using strong cryptography. This means that even the service provider cannot read your messages. Many of these services offer additional privacy benefits, such as Skiff Mail’s image proxy protection and support for multiple aliases.End-to-end encryption can also be used to ensure the authenticity of an email. This is because the sender's device digitally signs the email before it is encrypted. The recipient's device can then verify the signature to ensure that the email has not been tampered with.


There have never been more attempts to spy on your inbox via professional marketing software. However, email providers have adapted, offering more security, protection, and safety than a user’s typical Gmail or Yahoo client.As a result, we highly encourage switching to a privacy-first email product, like Skiff Mail, and enabling the other default privacy protections built into your device or browser.


What is image proxying?Image proxying for email tracking protection is a setting in some email clients that allows the user to prevent the automatic loading of images in email messages, or instead load content via a proxy server between the user and the remote content. This can help to protect the user's privacy by preventing email trackers from being able to collect data about the user's online activity.Does Skiff Mail block email tracking?Yes. Skiff Mail proxies all images and remote content to prevent tracking IP address and other open data. Furthermore, Skiff Mail supports four aliases per account on the Free plan, ten on the Pro plan, and fifteen on the Business plan, as well as unlimited aliasing using plus and dots (for example [email protected]).How can you use multiple email aliases for privacy?There are a few different ways you can use multiple email aliases for privacy. One way is to use a different email address for each person or organization you communicate with. This way, if one of your email addresses is compromised, the others will remain private. Another way to use email aliases for privacy is to create a separate email address for each online account you have. This way, if your main email address is ever compromised, your other accounts will remain safe.

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