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I noticed that SalesForce adds this to the very bottom of my outbound HTML emails:

<br><img src="http://na8.salesforce.com/servlet/servlet.ImageServer?oid=11D4ABCDEFGH9Lo&esid=1234567890ABCDE"></body></html><br><br><DIV style="display:none;"></DIV>

(cluster farm, OID, and ESID have been renamed to protect the innocent :-) )

My templates are in plain-text (I occassionally switch to HTML so I can add things like indentation or bullet points). In any event though, I'm not explicitly adding the portion above. What is it for?

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This image is used by Salesforce to track how many times an email is opened by the recipient. When the recipient views the email the request back to Salesforce to get the blank image results in the "# Times Open" count being incremented.

(Security conscious recipients may choose to not download the image and so will not be counted.)

See the additional information in Email status is not tracking too. Its only HTML emails that can support this feature (as its a HTML tag that fetches the image).

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    Slightly more subtle than "track how many times", it also provides a way to implement 'ReturnReceipts' even if a recipient declines to send them... and even if the e-mail is forwarded. – user2338816 Nov 29 '14 at 0:50

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