Monday, September 2, 2013

How to get your emails to the Inbox

You have designed a beautiful email. And you have sent to yourself as a test. Did it land in your Inbox? If it didn’t even after waiting for a reasonable amount of time, chances are your spam filters have it!

Why does email land in the junk folder? Well, there are several reasons why it could have made its way to the junk folder. Here are some tips (technical ones included!) that you can use to avoid hitting the junk and instead land where you want it to – the Inbox.

1. From Name and From Address

Don’t fake it here. Tell the recipient mail server who you really are and what’s your email address. Honesty pays.

Some technical info which you have to address. If you are not sure what it is, speak to your web host and they should be able to do the needful.

Check for the PTR/RDNS for your domain (the From Address that you use – e.g. If this is not configured properly, your mail will go straight to
junk. No doubt about that!

2. SMTP server you use

An SMTP server is used to send out your email campaigns. Again, their setup and configuration is critical for message delivery. Make sure that the IP address you are sending from is not blacklisted. Nor is the domain name. Also, check with your service provider if the server you are using has SPF and DKIM configured. Don’t worry about the technical stuff, but make sure you get a positive confirmation about these from your ESP.

Most recipient mail servers will reject your email if these things are not configured properly.

3. Subject text

This is equally important. If your email is technically through, the anti spam software may still catch you on the subject line.

Things you can avoid:

  • NEVER SHOUT. Meaning, don’t send your subject with all CAPS
  • Don’t use words like Free, Guaranteed or anything that sounds too good to be true or includes adult stuff
  • Don’t use exclamation marks (!!!)
  • Keep it simple, to the point and less than 50 characters
  • Take care of these 3 things and you are almost there.

Your next challenge is to get the user to click and open your message. Tell them the truth – what is your email message all about. That’s pretty much everything you need!

SMTP Server Configuration and Email Throttling

To send out an email campaign, you need to configure at least one SMTP server in BitFaster. If you  wish to speed up the process of sending an email campaign, you can use more than one SMTP server.

There is no limit on the number of SMTP servers you can define in BitFaster. BitFaster can automatically distribute the load amongst these servers when you start an email campaign.

Assuming that you have already defined one or more SMTP servers, follow the steps below to assign the server(s) in the New Email Campaign or Edit Email Campaign window:

  • Select SMTP/Message Settings tab (on the left)
  • Enter the mandatory fields – From Name and From Address
  • In the SMTP Server(s) list box, check/tick one or more SMTP servers
  • Add the Campaign (if you are done with all other settings) or save the changes if you are updating the campaign.

With this, BitFaster knows the SMTP servers that it has to use for sending out an email campaign. Now, you can tweak some of the settings to optimize delivery.

Click on the Options icon in the toolbar (or from the menu choose View > Options) to bring up the Options window. Now click on Mail Settings.

The Maximum Threads field is used to tell BitFaster the number of asynchronous connections it has to initiate with an SMTP Server. For example, if you specify 5 here, BitFaster will initiate 5 simultaneous connection to the SMTP Server and try sending all of them at the same time.

Please note that the threads you specify is per SMTP Server. If you choose to use 3 SMTP Servers, BitFaster will actually initiate 15 simultaneous connections (5 per server). The more threads you specify and the more SMTP servers you define and use, the faster will the mails get delivered.


Every email/hosting provider will have the following limitations applied:

  • Maximum threads per SMTP server
  • Maximum number of messages per hour
  • Maximum number of messages per day (24 hour cycle)
  • Make sure you keep this mind (verify them with your service provider) and then select the number of threads. BitFaster can support up to 100 threads per SMTP server.

The other important setting you can configure in BitFaster is Email Throttling. As mentioned above, your service provider can put an hourly restriction on the number of messages you can send per SMTP server.

Let’s take an example here so that you can understand how to configure BitFaster better.

  • No. of Emails to be sent: 5000
  • No. of SMTP Servers (or accounts): 3
  • Hourly limit (set by the service provider): 200 messages per SMTP server/account
  • Thread limit (set by the service provider): 10

Going by the above example, you can send a maximum of 600 messages per hour with 30 threads.

You can configure BitFaster as per the settings shown below for optimum results:

  • Maximum Threads: 5
  • Enable Auto Pause (Email Throttling): Check/Tick
  • Pause for: 45 minutes
  • After every: 500 messages

Please Note: Email Throttling is available only in BitFaster Professional.

The above configuration will tell BitFaster to initiate 15 simultaneous connections, send 500 messages and then wait/sleep for 45 minutes before it can pick up the next set of 500 email addresses. This means, that BitFaster will split your email list into 10 batches of 500 each.

Assuming that it takes 15 minutes to send out 500 messages, you are now in safe zone because BitFaster will wait for 45 minutes until it picks up the next set of 500 messages. That means you are sending only 500 messages per hour and you will never exceed your quota of 600 messages per hour. Your email campaign will take about 10 hours (or less) to complete the campaign based on all these assumptions.

Sending an SMS Message to a Contact

BitFaster can be used to send out SMS campaigns as well. And yes, you can personalize them too!

Before you can send out an SMS campaign, make sure you have bought SMS credits from a service provider. Any SMS Gateway that supports HTTP/S API will work with BitFaster. Your service provider can give you more information on how to use this API to send out messages.

You will normally get a URL from your service provider which can be used to send out a message once you input a couple of parameters (as a query string). Check out the example below:

Two parameters are mandatory to sending an SMS. You may have other parameters that your service provider might need. Please refer to their guide or tutorial on what all parameters are required.

In the above example, you will notice that there are two parameters to be sent – msg and no. The first one is for the message you want to send and the second is to the mobile number you wish to send the message to.

Assuming that we are done with the above two parameters only, you can now add a new SMS Gateway in BitFaster. The steps to do that are:

  • Choose File > New > SMS Gateway from the main menu
  • Enter the Gateway Name (this is for your reference only)
  • Enter the URL text (as shown above or as suggested by your service provider)
  • Make sure that the URL text uses the system variables [MobileNo] and [SMSMessage] when you pass the query string. The URL text could look something like this:[SMSMessage]&no=[MobileNo]

Please note that all BitFaster system variables are enclosed in square brackets and are case sensitive.

Once you have added an SMS Gateway, you can use it to send out an SMS campaign or a single SMS to the selected contact. To send an SMS to a single contact, follow the steps below:

  • Click on a Group name in the tree view under the Main tab
  • Now right click on a Contact Name in the top right window pane and choose Compose SMS

The mobile number of the contact is automatically shown in the Mobile No. field. Now enter the message you wish to send in the SMS Message text box
Select the SMS Gateway you want to use and click on Send

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Previewing your Campaigns before sending

Before you send out your email campaign, make sure you preview it in BitFaster. There are two modes that you can use to preview your campaign:

  • Without Personalization
  • With Personalization

To preview your campaign without personalization (e.g. "Dear Joe"), you can follow the steps below:

  • Choose Email Campaigns (from the tree view in the Main tab)
  • Right click on the campaign you want to preview
  • Click on Preview Campaign

This option will display your email campaign without personalizing (or mail merging). If you have used any system variables (such as "[FirstNameX]" for personalizing), they will be shown as it is in the preview.

System variables are used to personalize your campaigns (Email and SMS). A system variable is enclosed in square brackets like [LastName]. Please remember that these are case sensitive.

Now if you want to view your campaign with personalization, make sure you have added at least one contact in BitFaster. You can then follow the steps below:

  • In the Main tab, expand Groups from the tree view
  • Click on a Group to display all the Contacts under it
  • Right click on a Contact and choose Preview Campaign
  • You can now select an Email or SMS campaign from the list and click on the Preview button

This will display the campaign in the Campaign Preview tab, but with personalization (mail merge). You can now see that all the system variables you have specified in your campaign text are mail merged and shown.

Using Gmail as your SMTP Server

If you are having an email account with Gmail, you can use that as your SMTP Server.

To configure your Gmail account as an SMTP server, follow the steps below:

  • Select File > New > SMTP Server from the main menu
  • Server Name: Gmail (this can be any name up to 100 characters – for your reference only)
  • Host Address:
  • User Name:
  • Password: Your Gmail password
  • SMTP Port: 465 (if this does not work, change it to 587)
  • Check the box "This server requires secure connection (SSL)"
  • Click on the Add button