[January 2019 Update] Our Reply-To functionality has been updated, so that you can set an individual Reply-To address on a per campaign basis, by setting it directly in the GMass Settings box. You can still set it in your Gmail account’s settings, as shown below, but it’s much easier and more manageable to set it directly in GMass’s Settings.
In your Gmail or G Suite account, you have the ability to set a Reply-To email address. If you do so, Gmail adds a Reply-To header to all of the emails you send, and what that means from a practical perspective is that when someone replies to your email, the reply will be sent to the Reply-To address instead of your From Address. Meaning, when somebody hits Reply, the To field of their “reply” email will be set to the Reply-To address you set in your account, rather than your From Address.
Until now, if you set a Reply-To address in Gmail and then used GMass to send a mail merge campaign, the Reply-To address was ignored. Replies would always be sent to the From Address used for your email campaign. Now, however, the Reply-To setting will be respected and used for your GMass mail merge campaigns.
Why wasn’t the Reply-To setting always used for mail merges?
It took some effort to get GMass to respect the Reply-To setting because of how GMass stores campaign data and how Gmail stores Drafts. GMass uses a Gmail Draft as a template of each campaign you create. A Gmail Draft itself doesn’t carry the Reply-To setting from your Gmail account. That’s because, unlike the Subject, Message, From Address, and Attachments, your Reply-To setting in Gmail is universal to your entire Gmail account, and not specific to a particular message or Draft. So, since GMass used the Gmail Draft as a means of storing campaign details, it previously didn’t have access to your Gmail account’s Reply-To setting.
Recently though, Gmail introduced a “Settings” API, which allows programmers like myself to pull the Reply-To setting from your Gmail account. So now, whenever GMass sends an email campaign for you, it queries your account to pull the Reply-To address, and if one is set, uses it in all the individual email messages it sends as part of a mail merge campaign.
Why would you want to use a different Reply-To address for a mail merge campaign?
There are lots of reasons you might want replies to your email campaign to be sent to a different address than your From Address. You might prefer to handle replies in a different email account than the one you use to send, even dare-I-say…a non-Gmail account. Doh! You might prefer to have your assistant handle replies to a mass email campaign.
For example, my email address is email@example.com, and I send a lot of email to people from this address. But let’s say I want my assistant Maya, firstname.lastname@example.org, to take over the communication if somebody replies to an email I send. I would set my Reply-To to email@example.com, and then, when somebody replies to an email I send, it will go to firstname.lastname@example.org instead of email@example.com.
How do you set the Reply-To in Gmail?
Setting the Reply-To in Gmail is easy. Go to your Settings, then Accounts, and click edit info next to the email address whose Reply-To you want to set:
Then click the “Specify…” link, enter in the address, and hit Save Changes.
It’s important to note that the Reply-To setting is specific to each Address that is set up in your Gmail account. If you’ve configured Gmail to send “from” more than one address, you can specify a different Reply-To for each. Similarly, when using GMass to send mail merge campaigns, whichever From Address you use in the Gmail Compose window will determine which Reply-To address is used.
A note about timing
GMass will use whatever Reply-To address is set at the time you hit the GMass button. Let’s say you change the Reply-To to your assistant’s email address, and then you use GMass to schedule a mail merge campaign for tomorrow afternoon. After scheduling the campaign, you remove the Reply-To address because you want to continue your day responding to your person-to-person emails, and you want those replies to come back to you, not your assistant. When the mail merge campaign sends the next afternoon, it will still send with a Reply-To set to your assistant’s address, since that’s what was set in your Gmail account at the time you scheduled the campaign.
Ajay is the founder of GMass and has been developing email sending software for 20 years.