In the selfless spirit of the holiday season, and the selfish spirit of knowing I write better for an audience, I offer my colleagues and readers another in depth, how to articles on how D-Tools uses Zoho CRM. This time I am going to focus on the specific process used on the mass email functionality and how it relates to emailing Leads and Contacts.

It needs to be mentioned that mass email is not as effective as it used to be. Back in the day I could load up the CC: line with a couple hundred emails and blast away with a generic message and the phone would ring. These days it takes a much more focused approach just to get the recipient to open the message; much less place a call.  If your Contact and Leads database is set up right you can really narrow the focus of your mass email message and enjoy much better results.

Before I dig in I should define a couple of terms and how they relate to our process and Zoho CRM. A Lead in our implementation of Zoho CRM is someone who has expressed interest in our software. Typically there will be a company name and individual contact information in a single lead record. A Contact is a separate record but is always linked to an Account record. The Contact record contains personal information about the Contact, and the Account record contains information about the company.

This is a subtle, but very important difference that greatly affects how Leads and Contacts get communicated with. In our system, Accounts are both Customers and Prospects. Again a subtle but important distinction because the messaging will be different for people who have purchased from you vs. people who are considering purchasing from you.

Step 1: Marketing to Leads

Marketing to Leads is different and easier than marketing to Contacts in Zoho CRM,  so that is a good place to start. When marketing to leads the first thing to do is create a search criteria and custom view that defines exactly the audience you are addressing and who this communication will be from. See this post about creating custom views in Zoho CRM . When defining views for mass email I like to start with the more general information and then narrow down to more specific. For example this is what a view would look like to commercial system integrators.

Email opt out is false so we do not send to anyone who does not want us to. The Email field is not empty so we do not mess up our total counts with leads with no email addresses. Lead Status is NOT “dead,sdk,reseller”. Zoho CRM system note, you can use a comma between criteria and Zoho will see it as an OR. Category is NOT “manufacturer,distributor,IBD,affiliate,partner,press” and Category contains “commercial”. I use contains because the Category field is a multi select field and can have more than one entry. The final field is always the specific Lead Owners name but save and name the view without the lead owner name for now. Make a note of the total number of leads with this criteria.

Next you need to create the specific email template that will be used in this campaign. To do this go to Setup at the top left and Email Templates in the Advanced section and click New Template. Select Record Type as Leads, hit next. You will get to the form below. Name the email, select the proper folder. Leads go in the Leads folder. Select who the email is going to be from and who will be the reply to if recipient of the email hits reply, can be different people if you want. Add the Subject of the email. Check Add User Signature and then add the content of the email along with any wild cards. The content can be text or HTML or both. Do not forget to add the reminder and unsubscribe message in the footer. “You are receiving this email because you have expressed interest in D-Tools software.  Click the following link to unsubscribe from any future mailings.”

Some notes on the above process. If sending a pure HTML message, always post the HTML message somewhere on the D-Tools public web and include a hyperlink to the page with a “please click here if you can not read this message” at the top of the email.  When creating this page make sure it is a no follow page with a blind link so the specific promotion does not get indexed by search engines.  Google Docs works well for this because you can publish as web page but not make it a public link.

Next, make sure all of the Lead Owners have a proper signature setup correctly in Zoho. In general, all mass emails should be “from” and “reply to” the specific lead owner. The outgoing signature will change with whoever is logged in and sending the email. This eliminates a lot of duplicate work and makes for a more personal email, but you have to change each email template to match the lead owner search criteria, and log in as the Lead Owner.

To send mass email to the Leads follow these steps:

  1. Go back to the saved view you created, hit Edit and add the lead owners name to the search criteria and Save. This should give you a list with general criteria and the specific Lead Owner.
  2. Find the email template you created, Edit and make sure that the from and reply to fields match the search criteria with the new Lead Owners name.
  3. Log in to Zoho CRM as the Lead Owner.  This is very important because you need to log in as the Lead Owner in order for the signature to be from.  I do this by opening another browser session in a different browser (IE, Firefox) so I can have my admin role in one browser and the Lead Owner in another.
  4. Go to the bottom of the Leads tab and select Mass Email Leads from the Lead Tools section
  5. In the Mass Email, Email Template tab select the template you saved from above. Scroll down to make sure it is what you expect. Notice the proper Lead Owner signature at the bottom?
  6. Go to the Select Records tab and choose Custom View Criteria and select the named custom view from above. Notice how all the matching records show up 100 at a time?
  7. Select the check box next to Leads Owner to select all 100 in the list and hit send. When the first 100 emails are sent the screen will refresh with the next set. Repeat until all the emails are sent. Make a note of the number of leads sent from each Lead Owner
  8. Open the named view and change the lead owner to a new Lead Owner. Save view
  9. Open the email template and change from and the reply to the new Lead Owner.
  10. Log in as the different Lead Owner.
  11. Wash, rinse repeat until you have gone through your entire list.
  12. Send an email to all the Lead Owners with the body of the email that was sent, and the exact count per Lead owner so they know exactly what happened.

One advantage to this process is that you are able to use just one custom view and one custom email template. Previous systems and processes had us creating a separate view and email template for each Lead Owner. This is much easier to manage and each email is automatically personalized with the Lead Owner contact information. Zoho also has a schedule email function but it is only really good for scheduling mass emails from a single lead owner. Good for something like a newsletter but not smaller, more personalized messages.

PS: I need to mention that this is not an ideal process.  Some of the issues are:

  • Lead Owner (sales reps) need mass email permissions.  Maybe not the best idea in some organizations.  In my opinion mass email should be an admin thing, NOT a general use thing.
  • Zoho CRM will send an email to the same address over and over during a given period of time.  This can be perceived as a form of email abuse.  This can be a big problem if you get a lot of emails with for a lot of contacts within a company, and that address is on an internal mail list for that company.
  • It is kind of a pain in the ass to keep track of all the different Lead Owner log ins.

Here are some of my ideas for making the process better and easier

  • Zoho needs to add a ${current.user} to their wildcard functionality.  Currently you can specify wildcards for just about anything EXCEPT the current user.  If there was current user custom view and current user email template the admin would just have to set up one view and one email template per campaign and it would be correct for each Lead Owner.  The current process is to either modify each template and view or set up a template and view for each Lead Owner.
  • Enhance the Add User Signature functionality to include an option to “Add From Signature”.  With that the signature could be either from the user or from the From: field.  That would solve a lot of the issues mentioned and make for a much simpler and accurate process.
  • There should be some sort of control in the system, so no matter what you can not send mass email to the same address over a given period of time.  I am sure it is more complicated than that, but Zoho is a very email abuse aware company.  If there is even a hint of SPAM smell in your system they will shut you down.  Given that I would hope that this feature would be implemented ASAP.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Mass Emailing Contacts.