Email pixel tracking is the practice of inserting a 1px-by-1px transparent image (usually a GIF or PNG file) into the header, body, or footer of an email. When the email containing the image is opened, the image sends a message to the server indicating that the email has been opened. This information includes the most essential data, like the time, location, operating system, and device used to read the email. SharpSpring includes a tracking pixel in every email that is sent out of the platform -- that's how you're able to access all of the analytics and automation features when recipients engage with your emails.
As such, tracking pixels are effective tools in developing personalized or targeted content, as they provide information based on individual email opens. Leads may open emails with certain content while disregarding others. Leads may be more apt to view specific email content at a specific time or at a specific location. Well-crafted designs or relevant content may have a recipient open the email multiple times. The information that tracking pixels provide can prove valuable.
However, there are certain things that cannot be done through pixel tracking. When an email is forwarded, the tracking pixel is stripped from the email. (SharpSpring does offer the feature to track certain forwarded emails.) As the pixels are images, recipients that automatically block images from loading or otherwise display all content as text in received emails will block the tracking pixel, preventing it from providing information. More web-savvy recipients could have certain browser plugins that disable tracking pixels from activating altogether, whether or not the pixel has loaded in the email.
It is also important to understand that pixel tracking only reports information of opened email, and that is not a measure of click-throughs, form fills, or other interactive engagement. The tracking pixel can report an email was opened, but not provide certain context clues as to whether or not the recipient clicked a link or otherwise cared for the content. This adds a certain risk to repeated engagement, as subsequent emails may be unsubscribed from or marked as spam.
That said, tracking pixels present a means of obtaining information that would otherwise be unknown. For information on using email pixel tracking in conjunction with Google Analytics, please refer to Google's documentation on the feature.