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Local company develops an independent email tracking service that tells businesses who is opening their messages and who isn't
Bananatag provides metrics that include whether emails are opened on desktops or mobile devices

If you're in sales, marketing or public relations, you have probably experienced the frustration of sending out emails and not knowing if the recipients opened them or clicked through some of the internal links.

Bananatag, a new locally developed email tracking service, promises to shed some light on the exercise of fishing in the dark.

"By knowing who opens the emails and who clicks the emails, they can save a lot of time by not following up with people who are not interested, and following up with people who are," said Bananatag co-founder Corey Wagner.

"When they click the link, you can get notified of that. You know that they looked at the information and you can change your followup, based on that."

In addition to telling users if their emails were opened, Bananatag provides such metrics as whether the email was opened on a desktop computer or mobile device.

The freemium service gives subscribers five emails per day for free. A premium service offers 100 emails per day for $5 per month.

Currently, it works only as an extension for Gmail and Microsoft Outlook, which is one more email service than Bananatag's main competitor – Yesware – which is available for Gmail only.

In other words, to use the service, the user (not the recipient) needs to have either a Gmail or Outlook account.

Bananatag was borne out of frustration. Wagner was head of operations at Axxess Industries, which provides signage and devices for the hotel industry.

Because the company's products and services are fairly technical, after the company's sales people made calls, they would follow up with emails containing internal links to help explain the products to potential clients.

"We sent these emails with the information, and you would never know if they looked at it or not," Wagner said. "Sometimes people told you they did look at it when they hadn't."

Wagner helped develop an in-house tracking application.

"It became so useful, and they started to rely on it so much within the office, that a couple of us thought we could actually build this as a service and offer it to other companies," Wagner said.

Cybele Negris, founder of and small-business columnist for BIV, points out that Outlook already allows users to receive a notification if an email has been read, and there are plenty of newsletter and email marketing services that allow for detailed tracking, including ConstantContact, MailChimp and AWeber.

But Wagner said those services are for "shotgun type" campaigns – not everyday email.

"For big campaigns, I would still use one of those services," Wagner said. "Bananatag is meant to fill the gap, giving you analytics and stats on your daily one-on-one interactions."

The one thing Bananatag has going for it is its price, Negris said.

"The product is not expensive, and at $5 per month, many people may give it a try," she said. "For the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, if a user gets good intel on a few emails that they wanted more info on, they would certainly keep that subscription going." •