Interview: Ajay Goel, Founder of GMass on the secrets of cold emails and the journey of GMass

ajay goel gmass

GMass does not need any introduction to someone who is into lead generation. A cold emailing tool that provides all features you need for a successful email campaign within your Gmail compose window and at the same time pretty simple to use, GMass has grown to 200k+ customers and $1.5M revenue in 2020. 

A few months back we at Postbox Consultancy Services got an inquiry from a client based in Vietnam for some help with sending cold emails. During our conversation with them, we realized that the client was doing well in their business but were not very tech-savvy and never heard of terms like “cold emails” and “lead generation” but we were amazed to see that they were still using GMass to send cold emails and were able to generate some leads.  This simple use case shows the power of GMass – in spite of being feature-rich GMass has kept its simplicity from a user-friendliness point of view. 

In the recent past GMass has launched a number of features that make GMass a one-stop-shop for cold emails and unlike its competitors, GMass boasts to have developed these features in-house. 

Recently we got a chance to interview Ajay Goel, who is the founder of GMass and we asked him questions about GMass’s journey and Ajay’s tips to improve email deliverability. Please read this exclusive interview with Ajay.

Postbox Services: Ajay, could you tell us how you came up with the idea of GMass initially?

Ajay: I was actually working on a different Chrome extension, called Wordzen, which was a human-based email editing service for Gmail. One day I needed to send a small mass email to about 20 people, and I needed each email to be personalized, and I was shocked that there wasn’t an easy way to do this natively inside Gmail. There were some Google Sheets plugins that accomplished this, but I wanted something that worked natively in Gmail that I could use without ever leaving Gmail. It so happened that Google had just recently released an API for Gmail, so the combination of that, plus my background in building email marketing software, made me think I was the perfect person to build a native Gmail solution. 

Postbox Services: You launched GMass in 2015. In these six years, you must have seen your users very closely. Could you share some insights around the changes you have seen in the lead generation industry in these 6 years?

Ajay: First, there are far more lead gen and outbound email platforms today than there were 6 years ago. It seems like a new one is launched every week. And as a result of that, everyone who has an email address gets cold emails these days. When I first started this business, it was rare for me to get a cold email from someone. Now I get 30-50/day. Of course, most of those end up in Spam, because they were sent by competitors’ platforms where the deliverability isn’t as good. 🙂  Lastly, the concept of automatically following up, or using sequences, has lost its edge. It used to be that when a prospect received a follow up email, they thought “Okay wow, this person really wants to hear from me, so they took the time to follow up.” Now, any smart Internet user knows that follow ups are automated using software like GMass, so there isn’t as strong of a compulsion to reply.

Now, any smart Internet user knows that follow ups are automated using software like GMass, so there isn’t as strong of a compulsion to reply.

Ajay Goel

Postbox Services: There are many cold emailing tools available in the market at the moment which help in running email sequences. What do you think are some of the unique features of GMass which set it apart from other similar tools?

Ajay: Three main things:

  • Because it all operates inside Gmail, you never have to leave your Inbox to create a campaign. That makes certain workflows like sending a test email to yourself really fast and easy. You hit a button, click on the message which just arrived in your Inbox, and then go back to working on your GMass campaign.

  • Sequences in GMass support a bunch of message types that no other platform supports. Your sequences can contain attachments and embedded images. And when I say embedded images, I don’t just mean an image in the email. I mean the image doesn’t need to download because it’s full content is embedded inside the email already. It’s how Gmail natively inserts an image when you use the “Insert Image” function in the Compose box. Additionally, we give you precise control over the subject line at every step of the sequence. So basically, you can craft sequences in a very detailed and specific manner that you can’t elsewhere.

  • I don’t like to talk about this, because I haven’t independently verified it, but people who have used GMass and its competitors tell me that their deliverability is higher with us. I don’t know exactly why that is. It could be how we format the emails, it could be our relationship with Google, or it could be our built-in email verification service.

By the way, out of all the cold email platforms in the world, GMass is the only one that has built its own email verification service and integrates it into cold email campaigns, at no additional cost to the user.

Postbox Services: GMass has launched a number of features in last year like email warmup, email verification, integration with other business tools, and recently you launched sentiment analysis and these features make GMass a one-stop solution for successful email campaigns. Could you share some insights as to how these features have enabled GMass users in running successful email campaigns?

Ajay: Well, you said it. I want GMass to be a one-stop shop for everything someone needs to launch an email campaign. You don’t need any other external tools, and you don’t even need to log in to the GMass website. All of these tools are accessible inside Gmail. Part of the design of GMass is to give users the fastest possible workflow in creating and launching campaigns. Did you know you can sign up for GMass and send a test campaign in about 20 seconds, and you never even have to press a single key on your keyboard?

Did you know you can sign up for GMass and send a test campaign in about 20 seconds, and you never even have to press a single key?

Ajay Goel

Postbox Services: Let’s discuss a bit about deliverability. What are your tips for people in lead generation/cold emailing to get the best possible inbox rates?

Ajay: This is a meaty question. The basics involve making sure your domain and IP addresses have good reputations and aren’t blacklisted, and that you have SPF set up. Beyond that, factors like list quality and email copy are important. I often get questions from users like “I’m using your system, and my emails are going to Spam. Please solve it.” And then I look at their mailings and they are indeed spamming, so my response is simply, “Well, you’re sending spam, so it looks like Gmail is doing its job well.” Most founders of cold email platforms will swear up and down that cold email is not spam. They’re wrong. By the classic definition of spam, cold email is spam. Now just because it’s spam doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send it or can’t benefit from it. The trick is to make your spam seem as unspammy as possible, and you can do that with relevance. Put yourself in the spam filter’s shoes. Think like the spam filter would think. If YOU were deciding which email goes to the Inbox vs Spam, how would you do it?

The trick is to make your spam seem as unspammy as possible, and you can do that with relevance. Put yourself in the spam filter’s shoes. Think like the spam filter would think. If YOU were deciding which email goes to the Inbox vs Spam, how would you do it?

Ajay Goel

Postbox Services: I recently read GMass’s article about sender reputation. For a new business that has recently registered a new domain what can they do to improve their sender reputation quickly?

Ajay: Use an email warm-up service to start establishing a reputation. Hint: GMass has a free one. Make sure you understand email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. There’s this belief in the email industry that you should immediately set up all 3 protocols and that will boost your deliverability. It’s false. SPF is a given and should be set up. But sometimes, setting up DKIM can actually harm your deliverability, but you wouldn’t know that from reading all the articles about email authentication. Most content about email authentication is written by people that actually know nothing about email authentication. This is a bigger topic than can be discussed here, but the reason that you may not want to set up DKIM is because Gmail natively DKIM signs your email with its own domain. So if you set up DKIM for your domain, and have your emails signed using your own domain, then you’re betting that your domain’s reputation is better than Google’s. DMARC is similar. DMARC forces your mail streams to have “domain alignment” and if you’re using a shared IP account from a provider like SendGrid, that can cause your emails to fail authentication and start bouncing.

Postbox Services: We are sometimes amazed by SEO done by GMass. Anything is searched on Google related to Gmail or cold-emails and GMass always makes a place on the first two pages. Have you got an in-house SEO team? How do you manage to perform so well on Google?

Ajay: I do not have an in-house SEO team. I find the whole concept of SEO nauseating. You Google something, like the word “car”, and you get these long-form articles that have H2 paragraph headings like “What is a car?” and “Why do you need a car?” and “Is a car the right solution for me?” It’s such nonsense and I wish Google would do something to derank all the crap content out there. We have a couple vendors who write content for us, and some of them have secret formulas to getting content ranked that even I don’t know, but my mantra is always “DON’T FOCUS ON SEO.” I tell everyone to just write good content, and Google will handle the rest. Now sometimes that’s turned out to be true and other times, not so much. We’ve written content that I perceive to be the most comprehensive piece on a particular email-related topic, only to find that it’s on page 20 of Google and basically never sees the light of day. Other technical articles that I’ve written that I didn’t even put that much effort into, end up ranking #1 for something unexpectedly. I think for the most part Google is a giant mystery that the SEO industry pretends to understand but really doesn’t. I’ve actually been finding that the best search results, just from my own personal Googling (nothing to do with email outreach), are often on page 2 rather than 1. I think Google still has a lot of work to do to get its algorithm right. And they have a tough job because of all the SEO guys out there trying to game the system. 

Postbox Services: For someone who is starting new with GMass for lead generation what are some of your quick tips. We often get queries like “How many cold emails should we send if we need to generate 10 appointments every week”. How would you answer that question?

Ajay: I don’t like to answer that question, because it’s so specific to so many things that are in the user’s control and not in the platform’s control. If the list of leads is a super hot list, then fewer emails can be sent. If the list was scraped from random sites on the web, then more emails will need to be sent. My advice is to start slow, and test along the way, and make sure you monitor the results of your test so you can make adjustments along the way. It’s just like any other channel you use to bring in traffic or leads. With pay-per-click, a successful strategy always involves testing different keywords, different landing pages, and different spend amounts. So with cold email, test different subject lines, email copy, and list sources.

So with cold email, test different subject lines, email copy, and list sources.

Ajay Goel

Postbox Services: We recently saw an announcement from GMass about a price increase for the first time after the launch. Could you share a bit about why you did not increase the GMass price even once in the last six years and why did you decide to increase it now?

Ajay: Because I was so busy building the product. I always prioritized building features, improving the usability, and getting users to like the product instead of focusing on revenue. In retrospect, I wish I had done smaller price increases over the years instead of a big one now, because a lot of users were shocked by a nearly 50% price increase. Still though, compared to our competitors, GMass is super cheap. 

Postbox Services: Thanks, Ajay for taking out time and talking to us. We appreciate some of your frank views and other insights about email marketing.  We are about to publish a Gmass review in the coming few days and hope that your interview along with our review will help lead generation professionals to start with Gmass for their cold email outreach campaigns.  

Contact Postbox Consultancy Services if you need help/consultancy to setup in-house lead generation or to improve your existing workflows.

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