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Email Update: improved deliverability, tracking & more

Late last week we successfully rolled out a fundamental change to the e-mail system that powers WORK[etc].  This is big news as it allows us to not only improve end-recipient deliverability, but also include a bunch of cool tracking features.

For example you can now see if an invoice was received by a client and then also if they opened that email.  The same goes for any type of email WORK[etc] sends.  Awesome.

Previously we managed our own mail servers, sending both transactional (ie customer invoices, alerts) and mass email (ie email newsletters) through the same system.  The problem was that occasionally, email from WORK[etc] would get blocked by a recipient’s ISP.  It wasn’t so much that our customers were sending spam (they weren’t) but rather we just weren’t sending enough volume to build any sort of credibility with the major networks.

Some ISP’s would edge on the side of caution and block WORK[etc] email simply because we had zero profile, good or bad.  I need to stress that this was a very minor issue, applying to only a handful of emails out of the 10,000+ flowing through the system each week.

The entire solution took a few months to research and implement, mainly due to the vagrancies between the “popular” SMTP mail server providers.  We needed a provider that would allow both transactional email and mass email, that wouldn’t throw their own code into sent emails, supported at least a 5MB attachment, was quick to send and who provided basic SMTP server access (as opposed ot an API) so we could instantly switch servers if they ever went down.

We worked with and went right through the full list of providers and feel like we know their services inside and out now.  If anyone is interested in a detailed review of Jango, Critsend, MessageGears, Postmark and others then let me know and I’ll post.

In the end we went with Socketlabs and so far all email continues to pump out smoothly.  We can’t recommend their team enough in terms of rapid support.

On to the new features…

Powerful Email Diagnostic Tracking
As every email send attempt is logged in your business database, you can
now bring up a delivery report to confirm when/how a message was sent.

Messages sent successfully would be denoted on the WORK[etc] UI like this;

If a delivery failure or bounce is later detected, the status will be changed according, e.g;

And of course if an email has been opened by the recipient, you’ll see this notice:

Email Delivery Reporting
Users with access to reports may at any time generate a REPORT on email deliveries. This is available under Reports > View Reports, and selecting the new “System: Email Delivery” option. The output looks something like this;

CHANGES TO CONTACT SCREENS
A contacts profile screen when a blacklist/bounce occurs looks like this:

EASY EMAIL LIST CLEANSING
A new flag has
been added for contacts called “Email Bounced”. It shows up everywhere
like this:

 

Because
this is a flag, that means it is now possible for you to “cleanse” your
contact database by simply filtering by “Email Bounced”, ticking all
contacts in the directory, and using the bulk Delete function.

Other More Techy Stuff

  • New Custom Outbound Email Settings
    You can now specify your very SMTP mail server settings for WORK[etc] to use when sending all email.
  • Track Email Openings
    HTML Email Open tracking is now supported
  • Powerful Email Diagnostic Tracking
    Every transactional email sent by WORK[etc] is now recorded along with a SMTP log which gives you comprehensive information about;

    • Whether or not the email indeed sent successfully
    • Whether the email has been opened by the recipient
    • (Coming Shortly) whether the email bounced, or became delayed.<br
  • Email Delivery Reporting
    There is a new report available to report on messages sending types/statistics, or chase up a message log.
  • User-Defined Alerts “From:” Address
    You
    can now configure your own Alerts “from” address. We recommend changing
    this from the default non-listening
    “do-no-reply@youraccount.worketc.com”, so that you can be notified about
    any non-deliveries.
  • New SPF settings for domain administrators
    Administrators please use “include:spf.worketc.com” from now on when setting SPF rules for your domain.
  • Complete
    overhaul of mailing innards, for better reliability. We have our own
    SMTP communication code now so we can fully log, optimize and inspect
    absolutely anything regarding mail send-outs and server communication…
    we’ve gone through numerous boughten components over the years but none
    are fully reliable/featured.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is one of those type of improvements where the changes are not entirely visible, but will have a huge impact on the quality of the WORK[etc] service.

The impending price change for new customers is only going to fund more of this.  If you are thinking about getting on board with WORK[etc], make sure you do so soon to lock in the old rates.

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