Being an Internet marketer keeps ruining my dating life

Last week, my girlfriend dumped me. The breakup was triggered -- as most of these things are, I’m sure -- by a stupid argument. She claimed she never received an email I swore I’d sent. A few minutes after she had huffed out of the room, my email tracking tool told me the message I’d allegedly never sent was opened. “Fine,” I thought to myself, “now I know she’s seen it.”

At dinner later, I asked for an answer -- the email was about visiting with some mutual friends from college -- and she again claimed she’d never received it.

“Yes you did,” I insisted. “You read it at 3:38 this afternoon!”

That was the wrong thing to say. I enjoyed the moral victory of catching her in a lie for about five seconds before the implication of what I’d said became clear.

“Why the f**** are you spying on my email account?” she yelled as she stormed out of my apartment.

To be fair, this particular relationship wasn’t destined for two kids, a dog, and suburbia. Still, I wasn’t spying on her. I’m a web marketer. I have tools that tell me things like when someone reads my emails. If she had stuck around long enough, I could have shown her.

But, since she walked out, and I’m still pissed, I’m going to vent my frustration the best way a web marketer can: by posting a blog! (Yes, I’m a nerd.)

For all you non-web-marketer women out there whom I might, at some point, start dating, consider this list a giant PSA about some of the ways I -- and, by extension, every company in the world -- can follow you on the Internet whether you realize it or not.

1. I know when you read my emails

Let’s start with how I knew my girlfriend read my email. There are a bunch of email plugins that track email opens and clicks. I use RocketBolt because it’s free and works with Gmail. It literally pops up a notification on my computer when someone reads an email:

That fateful desktop notification. RIP Jenny… wherever you are.

2. I know when EVERYONE reads my emails

All bulk emailing tools (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and whatever other services marketers use to send annoying promotional emails) track email opens. Every time you open one of my messages, it’s like an invitation to keep annoying you. “This person is clearly interested enough to read what I’m sending,” I think to myself, “so I’m going to send EVEN MORE!”

Analytics screenshot from my Mailchimp account

And don’t even think about clicking on a link. If you show that much interest in one of my promotional emails, you’re automatically going to start getting at least three emails from me every week.

3. I can get your personal contact info with just an email address

We don’t need to be connected on social media. Heck, we don’t even have to know each other. I can still get everything I want to know about you from your email address using services like Full Contact.

If I don’t have your email address, I can usually find that, too. If it’s not available from one of the dozens of data aggregation services (, Salesgenie, etc.), there’s a 70% chance I can guess it.

Quick question: is your email address some combination of your first name/initial and last name/initial @ your employer’s domain name?

4. I’ll know when you’re on my website and the pages you’re looking at

Most people will happily stalk their ex-girlfriends/boyfriends on Facebook, but they won’t do it on LinkedIn because LinkedIn has that “who’s been viewing my profile” feature.

Well, I’ve got bad news for you. Using tools like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, and the aforementioned RocketBolt, I can see if you were checking out my website. I can also see what pages you were looking at. And I can see every time you come back.

There’s even a tool called Clicktale that let’s me watch a video recording of everything you’ve done on my website.

5. I can find you again

Have you ever noticed that a product you were looking at yesterday on Amazon “magically” appears in your Facebook feed today? That’s not a lucky coincidence. That’s called retargeting.

Retargeting lets me, the web marketer, show my Facebook and Google ads specifically to people who have already been to my website. In other words, I can follow you around the Web no matter where you go.

6. I can find you even if you’ve never been to my website

If you think you’re safe so long as you’ve never been to my website or opened one of my promotional emails, think again. I can give a site like Facebook your email address -- which, remember, I can almost always get -- and it’ll let me show you whatever ad I want.

In other words, welcome to the 21st century, people. If you don’t know that the internet makes you immensely trackable, and if you basically buried your head in the sand during that whole Edward Snowden thingy, then one thing is for sure: you and I definitely shouldn’t start dating.