February 11, 2020

📩 How do you handle email for multiple projects?

scholz

If you have multiple side projects how do you handle email?

Also if you use multiple, do you create actual accounts or just redirects to your main? Where do you host? Is it weird for customers when they send an email to one address ([email protected]) and then receive a response from some other address?

I'm super interested in how you go about handling your email setup for different (and unrelated) projects.

  1. 9

    I spotted a brief mention of https://improvmx.com/ a few back on IH. IT'S AMAZING IMO.

    Essentially results in free email from your personal Gmail for all project by setting up mx records that allow you to automatically forward emails to your address then reply as if you were replying from your domain.

    Free tier seems amazing too. Great free resource for bootstrapping

    1. 2

      Wow 🤯! I need to try this, this seems to take all the pain out of the MX record management.

      Thanks so much!

      1. 2

        Glad to share 👍

        I couldn't believe how easy (and free) it was. Took me maybe 15 mins to set up email functionality for a new project straight from my personal Gmail.

    2. 1

      I didn't know about this service. Thanks!

  2. 3

    I use a single GSuite account and set up domain aliases so all email lands in a single inbox and I can respond on the specific email that the sender used.

    1. 1

      This sounds like a reasonable approach. My current setup is a complete mess. Have you noticed any downsides/limitations using this?

      1. 2

        Only limitation I've seen is that all domains get the same set of addresses before @. When you create name@domain1, you also have name@domain2 at least as far as I have seen. That's the setup I want but it is a limitation, and wont suit all scenarios. If you have different teams of people working on each product that may be a major issue.

        1. 1

          Okay, both these issues aren't really a concern for me. The name of the adress would probably be the same for every domain anyway. And when the volume makes a dedicated support team necessary I would probably go with a helpdesk solution as @alibby suggested below. But until then your solution sounds perfect for my case.

          Thanks!

  3. 3

    I have not been the savviest in this area. I just use GSuite for each project. It's $6/mo per address. Certainly, not the cheapest option. The simplicity is well worth it in my opinion, though.

    For each project I just do [my name]@[project domain] as the main address, then GSuite makes it easy to set up aliases like [email protected][project domain] and [email protected][project domain] etc.

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing. Yeah, that was also my first thought, to create an account for each project, but I figured that its too expensive for those projects where I don't expect a lot of requests.

      On the other hand your approach certainly makes it clearer, which project an email belongs to than if all conversations were had within one account.

  4. 2

    Gsuite with alias domains.

    josh@mycompany (main account domain)
    josh@project1
    josh@project2
    etc

    I have a few aliases, support, billing, and such. I typically just respond from my [email protected] email for whichever project it is though.

    It's not very sophisticated, but it's done me well for like 10 years now.

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing. Yes, this setup seems to be very popular and is probably the route I'm also going from now on.

      1. 1

        Yeah, falls into the category of "optimize once it gets painful". If nothing else, support volume of startups tends to be lower than say, a 100m$ ARR business, so there's no reason to try solving the problem with the same tools as those organizations.

        I've definitely fallen into the trap of trying out software (specifically stuff I was working on at the time) to try to solve things. SumoMe/Sumo.com's contact form (not even sure if it's still a thing anymore) did what it was supposed to, but wasn't much different than using labels to abstract out specific messages.

        Also had a startup that was building workflow software, effectively herding cats through steps. That actually worked a bit better, because I could corral folks into queues for later engagement for things like feature requests. These days, I tell folks if they want to be alerted about new features to get on our mailing list. Drops my cognitive load to zero in terms of having to remember who asked about what and all of that.

        In terms of say, needing "template replies" for support issues. That tends to be a code smell that should be addressed. If people are asking the same stuff over and over, you shouldn't have a canned response, you should find a solution to ensure you stop receiving those emails (add a new feature, clarify some language in your messaging, etc).

        1. 1

          That's some super valuable insights, thanks for sharing. I'm totally with you on your first and last point. There is absolutely no need for an elaborate system when there is hardly support volume. And repeating support inquiries are definitely a hint that something could be explained/handled better. Be it through feature improvements, FAQs or guides.

          I think especially technical people tend to overoptimize too early, when there is no actual need for it yet. I'm also guilty of this, but it helps to at least be aware of such tendencies and try to avoid them whenever possible. Which was also kind of the reason for this whole discussion, because I was looking for a simple approach without going down the rabbit hole of premature optimization.

          1. 2

            Yeah, engineers love to.... engineer. Can't quote my buddy @collinbrewer enough "be the entrepreneur, not the engineer". I approach just about everything now with that question and I tell ya... I spend way less time coding than I did in the past ;)

  5. 2

    i use zoho mail with their free tier to get personalized email per project. there was an email forwarding app on here a while back that handled multiple domain names.

    1. 1

      Haven't heard of Zoho yet but I will take a look, thanks.

      Yes, @kempsterrrr mentioned https://improvmx.com/ in a comment in this thread, if you were referring to this.

      1. 1

        No, he is referring to zoho email forwarding to your other email(ex:gmail).

        Currently I have a separate zoho email attached each side project. Its cheaper than Gsuite, but having separate email per project is a pain to deal with.

        1. 1

          Yeah, there's a lot of free mail services out there, but then the organization of them often becomes very confusing. That was kind of the motivation for this post. To find a way to manage multiple mail addresses, while staying in control of them and potentially save some money.

          I think there are some great suggestions in the comments to this thread already.

  6. 2

    Initially we received email via [email protected], for each product. We do this on GSuite, but forward to the few individuals that might handle it. As a project's email gets to be too much, we start forwarding those emails into a ticket system like freshdesk rather than using email to respond.

    1. 1

      So every general email would go to [email protected] and then be forwarded to each responsible individual, is this correct? And do they respond from a custom email adress with the same ourproductdomain.com or from an outside domain?

      I like the approach of using a simpler system in the beginning and only switching to a more powerful setup once the load increases.

      1. 1

        Yep. So I probably should have talked about the sending part. In general we configure the gmail client to allow for sending as the several [email protected]. It's a pain, and we need to go re-figure it out every time we need to do it. This is why freshdesk was a great move for us. Plus it helps manage the problems associated with taking ownership of a request lessening the risk of several folks jumping on an issue. It's not perfect because sometimes we forget to "take" the freshdesk ticket before starting to work an issue.

        1. 1

          I see, thanks for clarifying. For now I guess I will stick with an email solution like yours, but in the future there's probably no way around a helpdesk software.

          Thank you!

  7. 1

    I use Fastmail, and it allows for essentially unlimited aliases and domain management. Just connect my newproject.com domain and then create [email protected] and various other aliases.

    All of my email goes to one inbox, so so simple.

    1. 1

      Sounds like a good solution. Can you also respond from these alias addresses or only receive?

      1. 1

        Yep, you can respond from them as well!

  8. 1

    I use https://www.fastmail.com/, it's 3 - 9 US$ per month, but I set up all my domains there. Once a project gets big enough, I create a so called identity, so I can respond from the project email address as well. Plus they have a catchall, so I might sign up on this website with [email protected], so in case I get spam, I can track where they got my email from.

    Now I have all project email in one place.

    1. 1

      I like this approach. Thanks for sharing.

  9. 1

    I've two side projects and for each them, I setup a email like ([email protected]). To manage them, I use Sparkmailapp.com

    1. 1

      I've heard of Sparkmail but never used it. Do you have two separate accounts with Sparkmail or can you access the different mail adresses from the same account?

      1. 1

        No. Just one account and you can add other emails. Its like Thunderbird but with more features and good looking user interface.

        1. 1

          As a current Thunderbird user that's painfully true 😅

  10. 1

    I do think their is some room in this space for someone to create a cheap email tool. I love my G Suite, and even at the $5 a month price point that's not so bad when the company is profitable. But in those early days it sucks having to shell out $5 a month for an email that you have no idea if it will take off or not.

    1. 1

      Yes, that's also my motivation. I think its much better to have a general mail adress for each project with the projects domain than one email for all projects. But it always seemed either very expensive or like a confusing setup if you need multiple adresses with potentially low communication volumes.

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