Spy Pig….The Name Says It All

  • SumoMe

I am a sucker for new and cool gadgets! I also like to know how my marketing, communication efforts, and time allocation is paying off. Now I do not want to be too big brother, because like everyone else out there I have avoidance and procrastination issues, but knowing when someone has read my email could be useful. In marketing I moved away from mailers because I couldn’t tell when people received the mailer and I didn’t get enough feedback telling me what people thought of the “item of value.” I switched instead to email campaigns and most especially video email campaigns so I could see when my clients/business partners watched the video. The change was astounding, I got more business, and incredible feedback so much so that I have never looked back.

Now after reading a blog post at Creativebits.org I have a new toy that may come in handy. It is called SpyPig, the name alone makes me want to use it. Does anyone ever tell you that they didn’t get your email? Usually it is the email they didn’t want to get. Now you can find out when your email has been read by the recipient! No more guessing: “Has he or she read my email yet?” I know you can send out a read receipt with your email but who really clicks a response when that pops up…I know I don’t. SpyPig is a simple email tracking system that sends you a notification email as soon as the recipient opens and reads your message. It works with virtually all modern email programs: Outlook, Eudora, Yahoo Email, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Email and many others.

I am still playing with this new and cool gadget but so far I would say that it is a something you may want to use here and there and not on your bulk emails. The website says you can use it on bulk emails you just won’t know who read the email, but you will get notified when it is read.

Best of all, SpyPig is FREE! No spam, no virus, no adware, no spyware. You can use it as often as you like, and there’s no catch.

SpyPig Requirements

Both you and the recipient must use an HTML-formatted email, not a plain-text or rich-text formatted email. SpyPig works by using a tracking image (SpyPig image) whose reference to its location on our server is embedded in your HTML email message. When the recipient opens your email, the tracking image will be automatically downloaded from our server, triggering the “email opened” alert on our system.

If you are using Outlook as your email software, you need to change the way it sends a downloadable image in your email, or SpyPig will not work!

  1. Under “Tools” in the main menu, go to “Options”
  2. On the tab, click “Mail Format”
  3. On the entry “Compose in this message format”, select “HTML” from the pulldown menu
  4. Click the “Internet Format…” button and a new pop-pop window will appear
  5. Under “HTML options”, uncheck the checkbox that says “When an HTML message contains pictures located on the Internet, send a copy of the pictures instead of the reference to their location”
  6. Under “Outlook Rich Text options”, select “Convert to HTML format” from the pulldown menu
  7. Click “OK” on the pop-up window
  8. Click “OK” again on the main “Options” window

This will make sure your Outlook will send the reference (the address or link) of the tracking image instead of a copy file of the image itself in your email. The recipient’s email software will then use the address to locate and download the tracking image from our server.

SpyPig General Limitations

SpyPig relies on the image download as the tracking device. Therefore, there are some limitations:

  • Insensitive PigThere are times when SpyPig does not know if the email has been read. That’s mainly due to the failure of the tracking image from being downloaded by the recipient. Contributing factors may include the following:

    • You or the recipient uses a plain-text email or rich-text email instead of HTML-formatted email
    • You use an HTML email, but somehow your software turns the SpyPig tracking image into an inline attachment instead of a downloadable remote image coming from our server (See “Tested Software” below)
    • The recipient disables or blocks the automatic image download on their email software
    • The recipient’s firewall, anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-spam or anti-whatever software may mistakenly block or alter your email that contains a downloadable image (See “Tips” below)
    • The recipient’s or your email provider or network does not allow a downloadable image in the email and delete or alter it
    • and so on
  • Overreacting PigSpyPig sends you a notification email everytime your email is opened (unless the image download fails). That means the following situations may also result in getting a notification:

    • You open your own email perhaps from the Sent folder
    • The recipient opens your email multiple times
    • The recipient responds to your email with your original message enclosed and the SpyPig image still intact, and then you open that email
    • The recipient forwards your email to others and they open your email (but you won’t be able to tell if your email has been forwarded)
    • and so on

If getting too many notification emails becomes a problem for our users, we may limit in the future the number of notifications you will get for each email you send.

UPDATE: We now limit the number of notification emails to 5 for each email you send with SpyPig.

Group Emails

If you send out a group email with multiple recipients with a SpyPig in it, you will still be notified everytime a recipient opens your email (up to 5 notifications), but you will not know which recipient. To get an individual notification from each recipient, send a seperate email with a different SpyPig for each recipient.


It’s often better to use SpyPig with the recipients you have been emailing before than with those you never have. That’s because these known recipients’ firewall, anti-spyware or anti-spam software may have “learned” about your emails, put your email address into their whitelist, and therefore let your emails with SpyPig through without any problem.

In addition, try to avoid sending a very short message and/or gibberish in your email along with SpyPig as this may be mistakenly thought as a spam by the recipient’s anti-spam software.

No Notification? Check Your Spam Folder

If you didn’t get your notification email, check your junk email or spam folder as it may have gone there. You may also need to adjust your junk email filter to allow emails from the spypig.com domain.

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