When sending a mail merge campaign in Gmail, you can set a Reply-To address individually on each campaign, by setting it directly in the GMass Settings box.
You can also set the Reply-To in your Gmail account settings, and GMass will respect that setting, but it’s more manageable to set it directly in GMass’s Settings.
Which setting takes priority?
If you have a Reply-To address set in your Gmail Settings, that setting will be respected and used for your GMass campaigns. If, however, you set a Reply-To address in the GMass Settings box, that setting will override what you have set in your Gmail settings.
So where should you set the Reply-To address?
If you’re using a dedicated Gmail/G Suite account for your email campaigns, and you want replies to all of your campaigns to go to an email address different from the From address, then you might as well set that Reply-To in your Gmail settings, so you don’t have to remember to set it in the GMass Settings box each time.
If you’re using the same Gmail/G Suite account to send campaigns as you use to manage your personal email, then it’s better to set the Reply-To in the GMass settings box for each campaign you send. This is because it’s likely that you want replies to your personal emails to go to your From Address but you want replies to your campaigns to go elsewhere.
Why set a Reply-To address at all?
When a Reply-To address is set for your campaign, replies go to that address instead of the From address.
There are many reasons you might want replies to your email campaign to be sent to a different address than your From Address.
- Let’s say you’re sending a promotional campaign to all of your customers, and you want your assistant Mary to handle the replies. Now you could set your Reply-To to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Let’s say you’re sending an announcement out about a new feature in your software product, and you anticipate people replying with questions about the feature. You may want to set your Reply-To to your support address. In GMass’s case, the support address is email@example.com, so if I were sending a campaign announcing a new GMass feature, I would set the Reply-To to our Zendesk support address.
- Let’s say you’re sending a campaign to some VIP contacts, and you want to personally handle the responses. In this case, you would not set a Reply-To at all, because you want the replies to come back directly to you. (If the Reply-To is blank, replies come back to the From Address of the email.)
How do you set the Reply-To in the GMass Settings?
Just open up the Settings box with the arrow button, and look for the Reply-To setting under Advanced. If you’re sending campaigns with GMass, this is the easiest way to control where replies are sent.
How do you set the Reply-To in Gmail?
Setting the Reply-To in Gmail is easy. Go to Gmail 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.
How the Reply-To header works technically
When you set a Reply-To address, Gmail adds a Reply-To header to all of the emails you send so 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.
How the timing works
If you set a Reply-To in your Gmail settings, 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 in your Gmail account 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.
If you set a Reply-To in the GMass settings box, then you can modify that up until the point in time when GMass sends the campaign, and the latest setting will always be used.
A history lesson on Reply-To and the Gmail API
Before GMass had its own Reply-To field in the Settings box, it could only set the Reply-To based on your Gmail account settings for each From Address. Even that limited ability took time and effort 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 tied 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.
In 2018, Gmail introduced a “Settings” API, which allows programmers to pull the Reply-To setting from your Gmail account. This enabled GMass to query your account to pull the Reply-To address, and if one is set, then it could use it when sending your emails for your campaign.
This approach lacked flexibility, because if you wanted replies for just a particular campaign to go to a different address, you would have to change your Gmail account-wide Reply-To setting, and that would affect even 1-on-1 emails that you may have sent around the same time you sent your mail merge. You would have to remember to change your Reply-To back after your campaign is finished. Furthermore, changing the Reply-To in Gmail Settings just for a GMass campaign takes you out of the GMass experience.
That’s why we introduced the ability to set your Reply-To address right in the GMass Settings box — so that you can change or remove the Reply-To for each individual email marketing campaign you send.
Ajay is the founder of GMass and has been developing email sending software for 20 years.