Friday, August 19, 2016

Now you can set or request your own tracking domain in GMass

I've written extensively about the importance of having a dedicated tracking domain for your GMass account. Previously, to get your tracking domain into GMass or to request one, you had to email our Support team. Now, you can either set your tracking domain or request one all on your own.

SET: If you have added a DNS record and set up your own tracking domain:

Compose a new message in Gmail, put trackingdomain@gmass.co in the To field, and put the tracking domain you created in the Subject. Then hit the main GMass buttonDo not hit the Send button.

In this example, my Google Apps email address is ajay@wordzen.com, and I'm setting track.wordzen.com as my tracking domain. I must hit the GMass button, not the Send button.

Note: For instant approval, your tracking domain must contain the domain of your Gmail email address. Meaning, if you are john@abcwidgets.com, your tracking domain should be something like track.abcwidgets.com. If your email address domain and your tracking domain don't match, your request will be accepted but will need manual approval.

REQUEST: If you are requesting that we provide you with a dedicated tracking domain:

Compose a new message in Gmail, put trackingdomain@gmass.co in the To field, and put the word request in the Subject. Then hit the main GMass button. Do not hit the Send button.

In this example, I am requesting GMass to assign me a dedicated tracking domain, because I don't want to bother with DNS records. I must hit the GMass button, not the Send button.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How many emails can you really send with GMass and Gmail?

Gmail officially claims that with a regular Gmail account you can send 500 emails/day and with a Google Apps account you can send 2,000 emails/day. In fact, I've even claimed that with GMass, if you're a Google Apps user, you can send a 10,000 recipient campaign, where GMass will evenly distribute the campaign at 2,000 emails/day for 5 consecutive days.

So if you're using GMass, you should be able to send 60,000 emails/month (2,000/day x 30 days in a month) from a single Google Apps account, right? As it turns out, that usually isn't the case.

In working with over 40,000 accounts in the last year, we've noticed that Google often throttles the number of emails a particular account can send based on a variety of factors, including:
  • How old the particular Gmail or Google apps account is (the older, the better)
  • How many conversations exist in the account (may existing conversations are better)
  • Whether the account has sent mass emails before (if it has, then you're better off)
  • The content of the mass emails (non-spammy content)
  • The bounce rate of the overall account (the lower the better)

We don't have exact rules on how Google decides how many emails an account can send at a particular time, but here's what we've observed:
  • A brand new Gmail account (ending in @gmail.com or @googlemail.com) with no history has very limited sending ability. Sometimes you are limited to 10 emails right when the account is created.
  • A brand new Google Apps account, where the organization itself is new to Google Apps, also has very limited sending ability.
  • A brand new Google Apps account, where the organization has a history with Google Apps, can send near the 2,000 emails/day limit almost right away

So what happens when you try to send, and Google decides you are over limit?

Using GMass, you'll notice that Gmail will start bouncing the emails and the bounce notification will look like this:

This is the Bounce you'll see if GMass sends an email when your account is over limit.

If you are in the Gmail interface, and you try to send a regular email with the regular blue Send button, you'll be stopped with a popup that looks like this:

This is the error you'll get if you try to send an email with the regular Gmail Send button when your account is over limit.

What does GMass do when it detects that your account is over limit?

GMass looks for bounce notifications like the one shown above to determine if your account is over limit. In fact, while it's sending your campaign, it's also simultaneously monitoring for these bounces. If the bounces start to appear, and you are technically under the 500 or 2,000 limit, then GMass pauses your campaign for an hour and tries to continue sending later.

Does GMass re-send the emails that have already bounced?

No, GMass won't automatically re-send the emails that have bounced with an over-limit message, but you can easily re-send these messages if you feel like your account has more sending power. Use the manual follow-up tool, the @ button near the Search field, choose your campaign, and choose the "Over Limit" category. A Compose window will launch with the email addresses of those that bounced previously. Then load the campaign using the Load Content dropdown in the Settings box, and hit the GMass button to re-send to those people.

Special Privilege for Google Apps Users

If you have a Google Apps account, and you've reached your limit and are unable to send emails, you have the option of having your Google Apps administrator "reset" your account. This is done through the Google Apps admin console. By resetting your account, your daily quota is immediately reset. This option, however, can only be used 5 times per year per account, so use this sparingly...only in situations where you've hit your limit and you absolutely need to send more email, whether it's through GMass or person-to-person email with the regular Send button.

Does subscribing to a paid GMass account improve my ability to send?

No, it does not. Whether you have a free or a paid GMass account, your overall sending limit per day is the same and is determined by Gmail, not by us. A free GMass account limits you to 50 emails at a time, but only Gmail imposes restrictions on total emails sent per day. We've had users express surprise that they subscribed to GMass, yet still couldn't send as many emails as the Gmail published limits, so it's important to know that GMass has no ability to control how many total emails you can send per day.

So how many emails can I really send with GMass and Gmail?

If you have a Gmail account with an excellent reputation, you'll usually get your 500 email limit for the first 24 hours but only a subset of that for the second 24-hour period. Meaning, if you send 750 emails, where GMass sends the first batch of 450 now (so you have a buffer of 50), and the remaining 300 24 hours later, that usually works. Avoid sending 900 though, because then you would need your full sending ability during the second 24-hour period.

If you have a Google Apps account with an excellent reputation, you'll usually get the full 2,000 email limit for the first 24 hours but only a subset of that for the second 24-hour period. So, you can probably send 3,500 emails, where 1,950 go out the first day, and the remaining go out on the second day, but if you were to send 4,000 emails, you might get some bounces on the second day.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Spammers, GMass, and why your legitimate emails are ending up in Spam or being flagged as scam

We've had several users in the last few days report that emails they are sending with GMass to their own Gmail addresses are ending up in the Spam folder or even worse, are flagged as being as a scam.



Why is this happening?

As we've mentioned before, because GMass has been a free email marketing system for so long, it attracts a plethora of spammers. GMass is an unmonitored system, and when you send emails with open and click tracking, the domain that gets inserted into your emails is the same domain that gets inserted when a spammer sends. If Google flags that domain, then this results in emails ending up in Spam or being flagged as a scam.

What is this domain you are talking about? Do you mean the domain in my email address?

No, that's separate. We are referring to a domain that gets inserted into the body of your email in order to make open and click tracking work. This is what we call a "tracking domain". Typically it is something like gmss10.net. Here's an example:



How do I separate my legitimate emails from the spammers' email?

You need a dedicated tracking domain for your GMass email campaigns. If you implement this, you essentially guarantee yourself 100% deliverability. If you don't, you are risking the chance of getting poor Inbox deliverability.

I want a dedicated tracking domain. What's my next step?

If you are able to add a DNS record for your domain...

You can easily set up a branded tracking domain for your GMass accounts that is based on your OWN domain name. Just add a CNAME record for the tracking domain you choose (track.abcwidgets.com for example) to point to "gmass.co". Detailed setup instructions here.

If you can't add a DNS record or this is too technical for you...

If you don't know how to manage DNS records, I can provide a dedicated tracking domain for your accounts.

Which is better: setting up a dedicated tracking domain based on my own domain, or having you provide one to me?

If you know how to manage your domain's DNS settings, as mentioned in the prior question, it is preferable that you set up a tracking domain based on your own domain. The "hover effect" is optimized here -- when your recipients hover over a link in your email campaign, and notice where it points before they click, they are more likely to click if they recognize your domain. The GMass-provided dedicated tracking domains will never look as polished as your own, but it's simply a matter of cosmetics. The 100% deliverability is achieved either way.

Why do you let spammers use GMass?

GMass by design is an unmonitored system. I chose to do it that way because Google already shuts down spammer accounts for us, so there's really no need for GMass to have its own monitoring in place. That said, even Gmail's spam and abuse detection isn't perfect. So some spam does still get sent by Gmail accounts, and when that happens, domains included in those spam messages get flagged, including the shared tracking domain that GMass uses to implement open and click tracking.

If the shared tracking domain gets flagged, can't you just switch it out for a different one?

Yes, we do switch out the shared tracking domain periodically, but inevitably, spammers will cause the new shared tracking domain to get flagged, causing the issue to surface again.

Is this a new issue for GMass, or has this been happening for a while?

This is a relatively new issue. In the past, even though the shared tracking domain would get flagged, emails would bounce with a block notification. We can then detect that and assign a dedicated tracking domain to the affected user to eliminate the issue going forward. Now, however, we are noticing emails are still getting delivered, but just going to Spam. That wasn't happening before.

Can you detect if my emails are being flagged?

In some cases we can, and in some we can't. If your email is flat out blocked by a recipient, then a bounce is generated. GMass then detects the block and reports it to you under the GMass Reports folder. We also send a daily report to those users experiencing a lot of blocking encouraging to get a dedicated tracking domain. However, in cases where the email isn't outright rejected, but is instead routed to the Spam folder or is flagged as a scam, we have no way of knowing this, so we can't detect it and then inform you. That's why it's best to be proactive and get a dedicated tracking domain even if you're not having delivery issues.

If I turn off open and click tracking, will that solve the issue?

Yes, you can also achieve 100% perfect deliverability by turning off open and click tracking, but you really don't have to if you go through the simple process of setting up a dedicated tracking domain. Then you get the best of both worlds: perfect deliverability and detailed analytics.

This is too hard. I don't understand. Can you just set this up for me?

Yes, just tell me that's what you want. If you're unable to create a dedicated tracking domain based on your own domain, you can have one of ours. Just email me at support@gmass.zendesk.com and request a dedicated tracking domain, and I will take care of all the setup for you.

If you can easily set this up for me, why don't you just do it for every GMass user?

Because that would be really expensive and time consuming. Over 45,000 accounts have signed up for GMass, and it's only been available for 11 months. If we had to register 45,000 domains, one for each user, we'd be incurring huge expenses. If we just do it for the people that ask, it's much more manageable.

I sent some test emails with GMass and they landed in Spam, and then I used a different service, and they went to the Inbox. Doesn't that mean that people are blocking GMass?

No. People are blocking the shared tracking domain that GMass uses, which is why its advantageous for each legitimate GMass user to use their own dedicated tracking domain, one that nobody else uses. That way, you can never get mixed up with a spammer's emails, and your emails will sail through to the Inbox. The reason it may not happen with another provider, is because the other provider hasn't been a free service, and therefore detracts spammers rather than attracts spammers.

What about GMass's IP addresses? Do they have a good reputation?

No email is actually sent from GMass's IP addresses, so GMass IPs are irrelevant. All email is sent from our users' own Gmail accounts, meaning the emails are sent from Gmail's IP addresses, and Gmail's IP addresses have the best email sending reputation in the world.

I'm an experienced email marketer and have used other platforms prior to GMass and never had this issue. Why does GMass have this issue?

Because GMass has been a long-time free and unmonitored system. No other email marketing system in the world is free and would dare be unmonitored. Every service from MailChimp to Hubspot has systems in place to prevent spammers from sending email. GMass does not. This was decided intentionally, because GMass is a unique service in that it's built on top of Gmail rather than a standalone service.

I find it hard to believe that if I take this one step, I can achieve 100% perfect deliverability. Are you being serious?

Absolutely. If you have a dedicated tracking domain and you send with GMass, you will achieve 100% deliverability (except for invalid addresses that legitimately bounce).

Isn't GMass about to start charging for services? Will that change anything?

Yes, on Monday, August 15, when GMass places limits on free accounts can do, this issue will be substantially mitigated. However, it is still a best practice to set up your own dedicated tracking domain.

So other than getting a dedicated tracking domain, do I need to do anything else to ensure my email goes to the Inbox?

As a best practice, you should set up SPF if you're a Google Apps user. If you have just a regular @gmail.com or @googlemail.com account, you don't have to do anything.

I have received confirmation from you that my dedicated tracking domain is in place. How do I use it?

Don't do anything differently -- just send as you normally would. The dedicated tracking domain will be inserted automatically into your emails.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

GMass Pricing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

First, here's the GMass Pricing page.

Q: I thought GMass was free. Why is it not free anymore?

A: GMass has been free since it was launched in September of 2015, but starting on August 15, 2016, I will be charging for it. It's the only way I can continue to provide an outstanding service to my users. See my previous post on my decision to start monetizing.

Q: Do I have to upgrade to a paid account? Can I just keep using my free account?

A: Free accounts are limited to sending to 50 email addresses at a time. All other features work with free accounts.

Q: Why is pricing different for Gmail users versus Google Apps users?

A: Google Apps users have more sending ability than regular Gmail users. Google publishes that Google Apps users can send 2,000 emails/day while regular Gmail users are limited to 500 emails/day. Because of the greater sending capacity, more server resources are used to service Google Apps users.

Q: How do I know whether I have a Gmail or a Google Apps account?

A: If your Gmail account ends in @gmail.com or @googlemail.com you have a Gmail account. If your Gmail account ends in your own domain, like @abcwidgets.com, for example, then you have a Google Apps account.

Q: I'm a legacy Google Apps user, from the time before Google started charging for hosted email. I don't have the sending ability of modern Google Apps users, so do you have a special plan for me?

A: Yes, we can offer you special pricing in this situation. Email support@gmass.zendesk.com for instructions on how to subscribe.

Q: I manage multiple Gmail accounts, and want to use GMass with all of them. Do I get a discount?

A: If you're a Google Apps user then you can buy a Team Plan for your Google Apps domain, and save on the per-user cost. If you're a regular Gmail user with multiple regular Gmail accounts, we don't offer a discount because it would be difficult to implement such a system. With Google Apps, it's easy to track how many accounts comprise a team because they all use the same domain.

Q: What email address should I use in the credit card payment form?

A: You should use the email address that is the address of the Gmail/Google Apps account with which you'd like to use GMass.

Q: I sometimes get bounces from Gmail when I try to send that say I'm over my limit. Will subscribing to a paid plan fix that?

A: No. If Gmail is bouncing your emails because you're over limit, subscribing won't have any effect on that. Subscribing will allow you to send over 50 emails at a time with GMass, but if Gmail is already limiting your sends, subscribing to GMass can't fix that.

Q: How does GMass pricing compare to other Gmail email marketing solutions?

A: GMass pricing falls in the middle, being more expensive than YAMM but less expensive than say, Yesware. Value-wise, however, there's simply no comparison. GMass is the most powerful, full-features, and easiest to use email marketing and mail merge solution for Gmail. If you subscribe to GMass and don't agree with that statement, let us know, and we'll happily refund you your current month's payment.

Q: What will the GMass footer look like?

If you choose a Minimal Plan, a footer will appear on your sent emails. The footer will look similar to the link below:

Email marketing inside Gmail

Q: I see the GMass footer on the bottom of my sent emails. Can I pay extra to have it removed?

A: Yes, the footer only appears if you're subscribed to a Minimal plan. Both the Standard and the Premium plans do not force the GMass footer on your emails.

Q: If I purchase a Google Apps team account, what plan do my individual users get subscribed to?

A: All team plans are for the highest level, Premium account. So all members of your team will have a Premium account.

Q: How do I upgrade from one level to the next?

A: Contact support by emailing support@gmass.zendesk.com. In the near future you will be able to upgrade and downgrade to different levels on your own.

Q: How do I cancel my paid account and downgrade to a free account?

A: Contact support by emailing support@gmass.zendesk.com. In the near future you will be able to cancel your paid account on your own.

Q: My Gmail account has become disabled. Therefore I can't log in to follow the cancellation procedures. How do I cancel?

A: If your account has become disabled, GMass will automatically cancel the account and stop all billing for it.

Q: What will I see on my credit card?

A: The charge will say "GMASS".

Q: Do you accept other forms of payment, like cash, check, or Bitcoin?

A: We currently are only accepting credit cards, but will accept other payment forms shortly.

Q: Do you have a discount for non-profits?

A: Yes, if you are a Google Apps user with a .org or .edu domain, you will enjoy 30% off the published prices.

Q: I'm a nonprofit or educational user. I see that you give a 30% discount, but when I go to subscribe, the price shown doesn't reflect a 30% discount. Why not?

A: The discount is actually calculated after you subscribe and can't be shown at the time you subscribe and enter your credit card. -- but you have our assurances that a 30% discount will be applied to your initial payment and all recurring charges.

Q: On what date will I be billed?

A: GMass will remain free to use until August 15, 2016. If you subscribed during our pre-sale (before August 15), and you choose a monthly plan, you will be billed on the 15th of every month. Otherwise you'll be billed on the anniversary of the date you signed up.

Q: I want to send a 1,000 person campaign but don't want to upgrade to a paid account. Can I just use my free account to send to 50 people 20 times?

A: Yes you can, but we prefer you don't do that. If you're getting a lot of use out of GMass, we hope you'll agree that it's worth the small investment for an amazing email marketing service.

Q: I really need GMass but can't afford it. Can I wash dishes instead?

A: We don't have any dirty dishes, but if you have a blog with at least moderate readership, we'd love a blog post describing what you like about GMass and how you use it for your organization. Contact support for more details.

Q: Do you charge sales tax?

A: No.

Q: I have disconnected my Gmail account from GMass by disabling OAuth -- what happens now?

A: GMass will detect that it has been disconnected and will automatically stop all billing for your account.

Q: What happens if I try to send a large campaign from a free account?

A: The send will fail and you'll get a message in the yellow bar at the top of your Gmail account indicating that the send failed. You'll also then be given the option to upgrade to a paid account.

Q: What happens if I try to configure auto follow-ups from an account without auto follow-ups?

A: The send will fail and you'll get a message in the yellow bar at the top of your Gmail account indicating that the send failed. You'll also then be given the option to upgrade to a paid account.

Q: I only need to send an email once a quarter. Can I subscribe, then send, then cancel?

A: Yes, you can. You will have to pay for the whole month though, but feel free to subscribe during just the months when you need to send. During the time that you're not subscribed, all other features, like reporting, will still work.

Q: What features won't work with a free account?

A: All features work with a free account. The only restriction with free accounts is that you can't send to more than 50 email addresses at a time.


Team Pricing FAQ:

Q: Who has the authority to buy a team plan for a Google Apps domain?

A: Anyone that belongs to your domain can create a GMass Team Account.

Q: What happens after I subscribe to a team plan?

A: All existing GMass accounts for your domain are converted to premium accounts, and all future GMass signups from your domain will be converted as well. At the beginning of ever period, we'll bill you for the number of users you chose during plan selection, and at the end of every period, we'll count your users to see if you're over the number of users your plan allows, and if so, bill you the difference.

Q: Can I purchase a team plan at the Minimum or Standard levels?

A: No, Team Plans are all at the highest, Premium level.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I'll soon ask you to subscribe to GMass

It's been quite a journey. GMass started as my passion project, because I wanted an easy way to send email campaigns from my Gmail account using Gmail's own interface and Compose Window.

 I wrote the first line of code for GMass in June of 2015 from a hotel room in Honolulu and released the first version of GMass in September of 2015. Since then:
  1. GMass has had over 40,000 signups.
  2. My developers and I have spent over 3,000 hours writing code.
  3. I've interacted with over 1,200 users by email, Gchat, iMessage, phone, and Skype.
  4. GMass has sent 42,000,000 emails, all through users' Gmail accounts.
  5. I've invested over $300,000 of my own money into building and marketing GMass.
  6. I've launched 31 new features.
  7. I've registered and hosted over 800 .xyz and .us domains so that my users can have dedicated tracking domains, at no charge to my users.
The time has come to convert GMass from a free service to a paid service. It's the only way I can continue building the product, supporting users, and upgrading servers to handle load. I hope that you've had an excellent experience with GMass so far and will consider supporting it through a paid account.

I'll be sending you details on pricing soon, but generally, pricing will range from about $7/month to about $20/month per user, depending on whether you have a regular Gmail or Google Apps account, and whether or not you use auto follow-ups. If your organization is on Google Apps, you'll also be able to purchase a team-plan for multiple users. I've attempted to make pricing affordable for everyone including non-business users, but I will also provide an option for continuing to use GMass without pay in exchange for some promotional help.

If all goes according to plan, I'll announce a pre-sale in a few days, with the goal of fully converting to a paid system on August 15.

My primary focus over the next couple of weeks will be getting all this ready. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, I'm all ears.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Political Email Marketing with GMass

Personal, Direct Messages Sway Voters

2016 is shaping up to be one of the most contentious and important election years in history. Local, state, and federal races are heating up and campaigns for candidates and causes are gearing up to garner votes.

Many voters remain undecided until the moment they step into the voting booth, so it behooves campaigners to be persistent, consistent, and responsive right up to the finish line. 

Experienced marketing professionals and winning campaign managers know that the campaign that wins the race is the one that does the best job delivering their message to undecided voters.

An article from NPR.org “Political Campaigns Go Social, But Email Is Still King” said that “on the Democratic side, the Obama camp took 90 percent of their online money from emails in 2012.” That’s impressive, and indicates the high impact of email marketing.

GMass is the ideal platform for savvy political campaign strategists to design, build, and deploy email blasts. Some of the features that are particularly effective for reaching voters are:

Tracking – You’ll know who opens your emails and who clicks on your calls to action.

Personalization – Placing your recipient’s name into the subject line and body of the email boosts the open and click rates for your campaigns. GMass makes this an easy step.

Automatic Follow-Up – Set a campaign once, and let it run. Voters who don’t open or click your
message after the first send will be sent automatic reminders if you wish. This feature saves time and increases overall effectiveness.

Mail-Merge – Connecting your list of donors to GMass is seamless and makes setting up campaigns easy.

GMass is a ★★★★★ reviewed extension on the Chrome Web Store and works with any active Gmail account. One of the best GMass features is that because the emails are sent through your Gmail account, they are less likely to be stopped with spam filters. GMass users enjoy the highest delivery, open, and click rates in the email marketing industry.