While it's debatable whether or not a tree falling in the woods makes a sound without anyone there to hear it, we can all agree that if your clients don't receive your proposals you definitely will not land a sale.
Email has been one of our biggest unexpected challenges as our customer base has grown. On a weekly basis we get a small, but significant percentage emailing us saying their clients don't receive their emails when sending from our system.
Obviously, if you can't trust our app to reliably send emails to clients, this is a big problem. So we set to work figuring out how to improve it, and here's what we've done:
1. Switching email transaction providers
To date, we had been using Mandrill to send transactional emails. It's made by Mailchimp, so we figured it must be pretty reliable. It turns we weren't the only users of Mandrill who experienced emails not being delivered, even though the Mandrill interface reported them as being delivered. On the advice of another startup founder, we tried out Postmark and it turns out it's head and shoulders beyond Mandrill.
It offers more detailed information, a powerful API, and has a better reputation for deliverability. This was step one.
2. Sending only from verified email addresses
By default when you send an email through our system to a client, it will be sent from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do this because if we were to send from your own address, many email providers, like Gmail, will regard it as spam because it doesn't match the domain sending the email.
Nine times out of ten this is ok. Most clients will see your own name in the 'from' field, and not even look at the email address. When they reply to the email, we use your own email address in the 'reply-to' field, so it will go directly to you.
However, in the case you want to send emails from your own address, you can now do that. Here's how it works:
• Click on your name in the header to visit your user profile
• Click "Send Using Your Own Email Address" (Note: This is a user-by-user setting, not account-wide and you can't send from public domain emails, like yahoo.com or gmail.com - it needs to be your own hosted email address)
• Generate a signature
You will receive an email from Postmark directly that asks you to verify your email address
Click the link and you'll visit a Postmark web page tell you your email is confirmed.
• Add TXT records to your DNS
Don't be too intimidated by this. It's fairly easy to add these records to your DNS settings where your email address is hosted. If you don't know how, ask your hosting provider or IT support. Our knowledge base article has a list of how to edit DNS settings in popular providers.
Note: Once you add the records to your DNS settings, any other email addresses from that domain will also be done as well, so you only need to do this once. They will still have to verify their email and go through the steps in Proposify.
It may take 12 hours for the records the setting to become active, so click the verify button to confirm the records are set up properly.
Once it verifies, you will then be able to send emails to clients through Proposify using your own email address!
3. Smart notifications & tracking email opens
Even after all this, it's still not 100% guaranteed that your email won't still end up in your client's spam folder. It could be the wording you use in your subject line "Great deals!!!!" or your client's email server has a very sensitive spam filter.
There's not much we can do in those situations, unfortunately.
However, one of the benefits of using Postmark is that they will let us know automatically if a proposal you send bounces or goes to your clients spam folder, and will send you an automatic email letting you know.
This way at least you won't be sitting there twiddling your thumbs wondering if your client actually received your email. If it went in their spam folder you can personally call or email them asking them to check it.
The other BIG benefit is that in addition to letting you know when a client clicks the link and views your proposal, we can also let you know if they opened the email!
4. *Bonus* Tracking individual views more accurately
We now client track views individually. What that means is, if you send out an email from our app to:
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org and they both click the link, we will show on the snapshot screen both of the email addresses as separate views, whereas before it would always show up as your primary contact.
There are still a few limitations: If you copy/paste the link from your browser URL bar and email it to someone, our system will assume it's the primary contact. Also, if a user forwards the email to someone else, the system will assume it's the person who forwarded the email who clicked the link.
We plan to address these limitations in a future release.
This mid-cycle release has addressed a major problem with email sending reliability. We still have other good stuff in the works for next week:
- Improvements to section versions to make it closer to Google Docs UI and allow 'default versions'
- Allow you to create and edit sections outside of proposals and templates
We've got a big, ambitious roadmap over the next 12 months and are currently scaling our team, so make sure you subscribe to our blog to get notified when we release other cool new features and improvements.
As always, I welcome your feedback below.