Back in the days of Outlook Express running on Windows XP, you had a handy feature that requested a read receipt when an email was sent. When the recipient opened the email you got a notification to say that it had arrived safely.
It was not perfect and it required the email client at the other end to cooperate, but it was still very useful. What happened to that feature? Why did it never catch on? Support for it just seems to have been abandoned for no reason.
Now we don’t have a clue whether an email has arrived and it is frustrating if it is an important message. Sometimes we even go so far as to send another email asking the person if they got the first one!
That is crazy. What if they don’t reply to the follow up? Do you assume that they did not get either of the messages?
Hubspot has the answer and it is an extension for Chrome called Sidekick. It works with Google Mail and when you compose a new message, there is a Sidekick tick box to say whether you want to track an email. Tick it and the normally blue Send button is changed to Sidekick’s orange to let you know it is active.
When the recipient of the email opens it, a Chrome notification appears on the screen to tell you that it has arrived OK and has been read. It is not 100% perfect and I have occasionally had emails that did not trigger the notification, but this is quite rare and Sidekick nearly always correctly notifies when emails are read. Not just once, but every time they are read - some people seem to open emails several times, perhaps to read them again.
It also has another trick up its sleeve and when an email is opened in Gmail, a contact information panel appears at the right hand side. Where possible, this shows extra information about the person, a history of the emails from you that they have opened, and sometimes more.
So how much does this cost?
It is free for up to 200 emails a month, so if you are a light email user then it will not cost you anything. Sidekick can be turned off and on very easily, so even if you send more, you could track only those messages that are important.
There is a Power User account with unlimited emails for $10 a month and a Business account costing $50 a month and that has a few extra features.
The free account is fine for me because I don’t send that many emails. We are nearly half way through the month and I have had just 75 notifications so far.
It works well and if you want to try it then go to www.getsidekick.com and get the Chrome extension and sign up.If you can get friends to sign up, you get a free month of unlimited emails.