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.
Timely Messages Focused on a Particular Needs Net Great Results

There are so many wonderful organizations helping people and animals around the world, it’s hard to narrow your choices to the ones that fit your needs. What makes people give in the first place?

Researchers have looked into why people donate, why they don’t do it as much as they would hope to, and how to bridge this gap. The explanations for charitable giving range from the purely altruistic “I donate because I value the social good done by the charity” to the not-at-all altruistic “I donate because I want to show off to people how rich I am.”

Whatever the reason a person chooses to give, marketing research shows that giving is more frequent when people are reminded of current and specific needs.

Lori Miller, Donor Relations Manager for an animal shelter in western Tennessee says the most effective means for sparking donations is to highlight one particular case and quickly send out an email campaign to regular donors. “When we have a dog or cat come in with special needs, we know it’s going to be expensive, and we know we’ll need help,” she told us. “I can put together an email campaign using GMass in less than an hour and send it out using our list and personalizing the message to each donor.”

Prior to GMass the shelter used an outside marketing firm to build full-color templates, but it took too long and was too expensive. “Our donors appreciate a personal message, straight from our manager, with a brief description of what we need and why we need it. They also appreciate that we’re not spending a ton of money on marketing.”

The email campaign open rates for the shelter average 75% per campaign, and since switching to GMass the shelter’s donor list has grown 18%. “We ask people who visit the shelter to sign up for our newsletter and we use GMass to send it on the first of every month,” said Lori. “It has worked out very well, and about half the people turn into regular donors.”

Right now GMass is free, but Lori says they will be happy to pay for the service if and when that day comes. “GMass is easy to manage, easy to use, and easy to track our results,” said Miller.

In addition to features like tracking and automatic follow-up, GMass allows users to insert the recipient’s name right into the subject line, which is a very effective means to boost open rates.

Many other charitable organizations are using GMass for their scheduled contacts to donors, ranging from national non-profits to small, local affiliates and religious organizations. GMass is an extension for the Chrome browser, and works with Gmail. You can download GMass here: www.gmass.co
Several users have reported that in the last few days, sending to yahoo.com email addresses, and email addresses hosted by Yahoo has resulted in a bounce because Yahoo blocked the email.

Which users were affected?

Only GMass users who sent from a regular Gmail account, meaning an email address @gmail.com or @googlemail.com were affected. Google Apps users were not affected. The issue affected campaigns sent between 2016-07-11 18:28 GMT and 2016-07-14 04:00 GMT.

What exactly happened?

Yahoo has indeed been bouncing emails containing the shared tracking domain for GMass users with regular Gmail accounts (not Google Apps). Specifically, any email sent to an @yahoo.com address containing the domain gmss5.com bounced with this message:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain yahoo.com by mta5.am0.yahoodns.net. [98.136.216.25].

The error that the other server returned was:
554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons.  Please visit https://help.yahoo.com/kb/postmaster/SLN5067.html [120]


This issue does not affect Google Apps users (those using Gmail but with their own company domain), because the shared tracking domain for Google Apps users is different than the shared tracking domain for regular Gmail users. The shared tracking domain assigned to Gmail users was blacklisted by Yahoo, thus resulting in the bounces.

What is a tracking domain?

For an explanation on what a tracking domain is and why it’s important for your email deliverability, please see this article on the issue of email blocking and this article on setting up your own tracking domain.

The issue has been resolved

We have now resolved the issue by replacing the blacklisted tracking domain with a new tracking domain, but additionally, we have taken several other clean-up actions:

1. We have updated our reply management filters so that bounce like the sample above is categorized as a block instead of a regular bounce. GMass’s reply management system categorizes replies to an email campaign, and in this case, the message above indicates a block rather than a traditional bounce which means the email address is simply invalid.

2. Because previously the reply management system was treating messages above as regular bounces, it means that those @yahoo.com recipient addresses would have been added to the respective account’s Bounce list, therefore suppressing sends to that address in the future. Since the recipient address is actually valid, we have removed all affected @yahoo.com addresses from the GMass bounce tables. Approximately 6,000 yahoo.com email addresses (and addresses hosted by yahoo.com) have been deleted from the GMass bounce tables.

3. We have replaced the shared tracking domain used by Gmail users (www.gmss5.com), that was the cause of the Yahoo blocking, with a new tracking domain (which we won’t specify here).

Why did this happen, and what can you do to prevent it from re-surfacing?
As we’ve previously written about, GMass is an intentionally unmonitored system, meaning we don’t police GMass usage for spammers. Therefore, in order to prevent your own email campaigns from being negatively affected by a spammer, it’s important to set up your own tracking domain. Please read about that in our article: Emails getting blocked? Take this one step to eliminate delivery issues.

We have just refined and relaunched a Reporting feature that details your email campaign activity in one CSV file. You can then import this CSV file back into Google Sheets, Excel, or any spreadsheet of your choosing.

The new Main Campaign Report shows your recipient email addresses, along with any other data pulled from your original Google Sheets spreadsheet, and whether each email address opened, clicked, unsubscribed, bounced, replied, were blocked, or otherwise failed due to an error or being over limit.

Access this report from the [CAMPAIGNS] Label under “GMass Reports” on the left side of Gmail.

Just click the “download” link shown above to download a CSV file of the report. It will look like this.

This is the actual CSV file containing all the reporting data for this email marketing campaign.

When connecting to a Google Sheets spreadsheet to send a mail merge campaign, you can now specify filter criteria to pull only certain email addresses that match the criteria.

You’ll notice a new Filter Rows box when connecting to a spreadsheet.

This post explains how to use the Filter Rows box and what to type to send email to just the rows that match your criteria. Specify one criteria per line, in the format:

ColumnName=Value

For example, if you have a spreadsheet column called Company, and you want to send a mail merge campaign to just everyone who’s Company is “Microsoft”, you would enter:

Company=Microsoft

Instead of the = sign, you can instead use the ~ operator to represent “contains”. For example, let’s say that your email addresses are in a column called Email. You want to send to only @yahoo.com addresses. You would enter:

Email~yahoo

meaning all rows where the Email value contains “yahoo”.

Full List of Operators

Along with = and ~ you can also use these operators:

!= for "not equals"

> for "greater than"

>= for "greater than or equal to"

< for "less than"

<= for "less than or equal to"

~ for "contains"

= for "equals"

Examples

You can use the operators above to compare strings, numbers, and dates. For example, if you have a spreadsheet column called Age, and you wanted to email just the adults in the spreadsheet, you could set:

Age >= 18

Or, let’s say you didn’t have an Age column but instead had a DateOfBirth column. Then you could set:

DateOfBirth <= 1/1/1999

assuming that anyone born before 1/1/1999 is an adult.

Special Values

There are two special values you can use to represent date values. These are:

CurrentDate

CurrentDateIgnoreYear

You can use these values to compare the data in your spreadsheet to the current system date (in the GMT time zone). For example, if you have a column in your spreadsheet called ShipDate, which represents when a customer’s order will be shipped, you could set:

ShipDate=CurrentDate

to pull just the rows where the order’s shipping date is today to let the customer know that their order has been shipped and will arrive soon.

Using CurrentDateIgnoreYear matches just the Month and Day parts of the date to the current Month and Day. For example, if you have a column called Birthday and you want to send an email to people only on their birthdays, but birthdays include the year the person was born, then this will be useful. If three of your birthday values are: 1/1/72, 4/5/80, and 3/1/90, then using “Birthday=CurrentDate” would never match the rows because the rows contain the birth year. Using “Birthday=CurrentDateIgnoreYear” however would match rows on a person’s birthday. Also, see the detailed guide to sending birthday emails with Gmail and GMass.

Multiple Criteria

You can also specify multiple criteria. Let’s say your spreadsheet has the columns Company and Position. Let’s say you want to send to everyone whose Company=Microsoft, and Position=Manager. You would enter:

Company=Microsoft
Position=Manager

Or, let’s say that in your actual spreadsheet, the Position column had values like “Product Manager” and “Technical Support Manager”, but you still wanted to email everyone at Microsoft that was some type of manager. In that case you would set the Position criteria to just “contain” the word “manager”. So:

Company=Microsoft
Position~Manager

In these cases, you want rows that match both criteria. So in these cases, the boolean operator should be set to AND. You might, however, want to switch to OR in certain cases. Let’s say your spreadsheet has all of your customers but you want to send a campaign to only customers with an email address at a consumer domain, like hotmail.com, yahoo.com, aol.com, and gmail.com. You would enter:

Email~gmail.com
Email~yahoo.com
Email~hotmail.com
Email~aol.com

And you would set the boolean dropdown to OR. Meaning you want to send to everyone where Email contains gmail.com OR Email contains yahoo.com OR Email contains hotmail.com OR Email contains aol.com.

As another example, let’s go back to our spreadsheet containing the Company column. You’re sending a mail merge campaign to executives at billion-dollar tech companies, so you want to only send to people where Company is either Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook. You would enter:

Company=Microsoft
Company=Apple
Company=Facebook

and set the boolean dropdown to OR. If you entered this criteria and set the boolean dropdown to AND, you would get an error saying that no rows could be selected, since there isn’t a single row where the Company is equal to all three of those values, as that would be impossible!

GMass offers a number of ways to personalize the Subject and Message of your mail merge campaigns sent with Gmail. From basic mail-merge style personalization to fallback values and automatic-first-name detection, this guide takes you through all of the options.

Simple Personalization

At the most basic level, you can use {FirstName} and {LastName} to personalize emails if you’re sending to email addresses that are your existing Gmail Contacts, meaning people with whom you’ve had prior email conversations. Your Gmail Contacts contain names along with email addresses.

If you’re connecting to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, then you can use any column from the spreadsheet to personalize, like {Company}, {LastPurchase}, or {DateOfBirth} for example, assuming that your spreadsheet contains the columns Company, LastPurchase, and DateOfBirth.

You can use these simple personalization variables in the Subject and Message. GMass gives you one-click buttons in the Settings panel to insert personalization variables.

Note that the buttons will only insert the personalization variables into the Message, but you can copy/paste them into the Subject too.

Fallback Values

If you know that your personalization variables will have a value for some email addresses but won’t for others, you can set a fallback value to be used when the personalization value is blank. For example, you could use {FirstName|Friend} in your message. If a “FirstName” is available, it will be substituted; otherwise “Friend” will be substituted. You can use the fallback value syntax, a pipe symbol, followed by the fallback value, with any personalization variable.

Google Sheets vs No Google Sheets

If you’re connecting to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, then you’ll get separate personalization buttons in the GMass Settings Box, one button corresponding to each column in your spreadsheet. If you are not connecting to a spreadsheet, then you’ll just get the standard FirstName, LastName, EmailAddress personalization buttons, where the values correspond to the email addresses and names of your Gmail Contacts.

Multi-word Names

Sometimes the names associated with your Gmail Contacts have not just two words, but three or four words. This is especially common in East Asian cultures. Therefore, in addition to FirstName and LastName, which will use the first word of the name and the last word of the name, you can instead use the syntax {Name1}, {Name2}, {Name3}, and {Name4}. Name1 corresponds to the first word in the name, Name2 to the second word, and so on.

For example, if you are sending to a Gmail Contact that looks like:

<loh@twitter.com> “Loh Kin Poh”

Asian convention dictates that you address someone by all three words of the name, so in this case you would use:

Dear {Name1} {Name2} {Name3}:

at the beginning of your message.

Auto First Name Detection

GMass has developed an algorithm that can accurately auto-detect someone’s first name just from their email address. To insert the auto-detected first name, use the syntax {auto-first}. Again, you can use this syntax in the Subject and Message. In the below example we auto detect the first name and use a fallback value of “old friend” in cases where the first name cannot be detected.

Combining techniques

You can use personalization values along with auto first name detection and fallback values. For example, let’s say you’re using a spreadsheet with these columns:

FirstName
LastName
Email

Some of the FirstName values are blank. So for those, you want GMass to auto detect the first name. And in cases where GMass cannot auto detect the first name, you want to use “old friend”. In that case, the syntax would look like:

Hi {FirstName|auto-first|old friend}:

The personalization tokens are tried in order they are placed inside the curly brackets. Fallback values should be separated by the pipe symbol ( | ).

Advanced Personalization Techniques

Along with the techniques above, you can also:

Testing Personalization

It’s easy to make sure your personalization is working before you send your email to all of your recipients. You can use the Send Test Email button to send a test email to yourself or anyone else. Then just check your Inbox, or your Sent Mail Folder, to make sure the test email looked the way you expect.

You can also choose to create Drafts first instead of sending the mass email. That allows you to spot check all of Drafts, one for each recipient, and then if the personalization in the Drafts looks the way you expect, you can click a link to send all the Drafts.

Troubleshooting

Still having trouble getting mail merge personalization to work? See our the top reasons why personalization fails.

Back in April, I started piloting a new feature we invented to automatically detect a person’s first name from just the email address.

Today, I am making auto first name detection available to all GMass users. This is a world first for email marketers using Gmail as their email marketing platform.

Just insert the personalization variable {auto-first} anywhere in your Subject or Message, and GMass will insert the recipient’s first name, based on the recipient’s email address.

Note that first name detection algorithm isn’t perfect — it works in approximately 90% of cases, and can only work if the actual first name is present in the local part of the email address (the part before the @ sign).

Because it’s not 100% perfect, it is not recommended that you use the {auto-first} personalization tag as a standalone personalization technique. Instead you should:

  1. Set a fallback value to use with {auto-first}. For example, use {auto-first|Customer}. That way, if GMass detects the first name, it will be used. If it can’t detect the first name, the fallback value of “Customer” will be used.
  2. As a further protective mechanism, and because even when the first name is present in an email address, GMass might not always choose the exact first name, use the “Just create Drafts” feature to preview each individual email first, before sending. That way, you can spot check the Drafts to make sure that the first names were generated properly before sending.

In our upcoming GMass Complete Guide to Personalization, you’ll learn how to set two fallback values. Let’s say you’re connecting to a spreadsheet with the columns: FirstLastEmail. And let’s say some of the values for “First” are blank. So in these cases, you want GMass to auto-detect the first name. But then let’s say that GMass is unable to auto-detect the first name in a few of these cases. You can set two fallback values using this syntax:

Hi there {First|auto-first|buddy}

An example where the auto detected First Name is a fallback value to the spreadsheet column “First”. The word “buddy” is the fallback value to the auto detected First Name.


In this case, if “First” has a value in your spreadsheet, it’s used. If not, GMass will attempt to auto-detect the First Name. If GMass can’t auto detect the first name, then the text “buddy” will be inserted.

The First Name auto-detection feature isn’t part of the GMass interface yet, so you won’t find a button in the Settings Panel to insert the {auto-first} designation. You have to type it or copy/paste from this post manually into your Subject or Message.

A few months ago, we explained why your Gmail signature doesn’t show up in the Compose window when the window is launched by GMass.

Now we have written a hack so that you can save your signature with GMass and so that your signature shows up every time a Compose window is launched, even if launched by GMass.

Saving your signature to GMass is easy.

  1. Hit Compose to launch a new blank Compose window with just your signature.
  2. In the To field, put “signature@gmass.co”. The Subject can be anything.
  3. Then hit the GMass button to send it.
Compose a blank email, with just your signature, and send to signature@gmass.co with the GMass button (not the Send button). This will save your signature with GMass.
That’s all there is to it! An email will have been sent to signature@gmass.co, and your signature is now saved with GMass. Any time you use a GMass feature to launch a Compose window, including “Connect to Google Sheets”, “Build an Email List from Search Results”, or “Send a Manual Follow-up Campaign” (the three red buttons near the Search field), the Compose window will contain your signature!