Gmail emailLast Friday, we covered the welcome news that Gmail will start caching email images on its own servers in order to speed up the process with which they appear in recipient’s email clients.

This is great news for both recipients and email marketers alike, but one particular concern has been raised: will these changes impact negatively on open rate reports?

It’s easy to see the thinking here. Typically, email marketing applications such as mailingmanager will rely on the loading of images in order to track opens. Thus, if those images are actually coming from elsewhere (in this case, Google’s servers), that tracking information is lost… no? Not quite.

We have done some extensive testing since Gmail’s latest update and can happily confirm that open reports are still accurate, despite the change to the way Gmail handles images. Google’s stance on this is a bit of an unknown quantity, but we believe it is because the image URLs still make a call to the mailingmanager servers when loaded automatically by Gmail.

Google have been very busy with their webmail client this year and the changes they’ve made have all followed a pattern. The tabbed inbox, for example, which automatically sends emails to what it believes is the most appropriate tab based on their content, had marketers rather hot under the collar, claiming that email marketing would die as a result. Not so. Reports have suggested that tabbed inboxes have actually assisted with open rates due to the way in which they encourage users to click on the ‘promotions’ tab.

Similarly, it seems that the new way in which they handle images is nothing but good news for marketers.

It is also important to grab some perspective here. The market share for Gmail, in terms of opens, hovers at around the 3% mark, globally. There’s certainly no doubt that they often lead the way, development-wise, but, equally, there’s no need to panic when they make changes to their service – particularly when they work out for the better!