Did you know that you can send Emails from Roll Call?

Each user account created in Administration > User Security can be provisioned to have its own email sending server much like you would set up within Outlook or Apple Mail*.

Note: Not all Email Services are created equal. There are some that may not play nice with Roll Call. For the most part, even free accounts like Yahoo and Gmail will send email from Roll Call if configured properly.

The downside to going with the free options (Yahoo/Gmail) is that they have imposed (somewhat strict) limits on how much you send and how frequently you can do it.

For example, Yahoo’s website states:

  • Outbound email messages are limited to 500 per day.
  • Each message can be sent to, at most, 100 recipients.
  • Each recipient of a message counts as one email towards the 500 daily limit.
    • Example – one message sent to 50 recipients counts as 50 emails towards the limit.

That may or may not be a problem for you. Gmail operates similarly.

How else can you handle ministry emails with Roll Call?

I’m glad you asked! Assuming you don’t already have a smtp (outgoing mail) server provided with your web hosting or website provider, there are a couple of other great options available. These services offer built-in SMTP approaches to sending email through their servers in a reliable way that gives you an amazing amount of control of your data.

Send emails from Roll Call with SendGrid
Send ministry emails with Roll Call using Mandrill

The two options I would like to present are Mandrill & SendGrid.

The Benefits of using an outgoing mail provider:

  • Built-in analytics (Know when your mail is delivered and if it is opened)
  • Click Tracking (Know what people are clicking if you have links involved)
  • Send more (reduce restrictions on sending quantity and frequency)

When you want to send a mass email out notifying your ministry of an upcoming event or urgent message, you don’t want to find out that you’ve hit your quota of outgoing emails for the day. Using a service like Mandrill or Sendgrid will prevent this from happening.

Both services offer about the same features. Analytics, Click tracking, High Deliverability. All important stuff. More on that last one (deliverability) in a bit.

Sounds good. What’s the catch?

Mandrill is a service offered by the company behind Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an email marketing campaign manager that sends pre-built email templates to your provided list. It’s a different animal with a great proven track record.

Sendgrid is a competitor service to Mandrill that has been around a little longer than Mandrill.

All this to say, you can go either way and get great features, but one will cost a little monthly cash.

Mandrill has a monthly fee of $9.95 for up to 25,000 emails sent per month. (They used to offer a free tier like Sendgrid – previous signups still honor this.)

Sendgrid lets you send up to 12,000 emails per month for FREE!

Sounds like you should just go with FREE right? Not so fast. Mandrill has a slightly less intimidating user interface and will send emails without much setup. You just tell it your domain you want to send from (like ‘mychurchname.com’) and they don’t require much else. Sendgrid will MAKE YOU jump through some hoops even after it does it’s little ‘provisioning’ security check after signup. So you’ll be off running a bit faster with Mandrill.

Both offer extensive API access that your developer/tech nerds might be able to utilize for other things in your ministry email sending needs as well.

Mandrill Analytics make sending email from Roll Call even more useful

Mandrill Analytics Dashboard

Go on. Tell me more!

As I eluded to earlier, these services send email on your behalf. That means they use your permission to do so. After all, if someone got an email saying it was from something@wordoflife.org but you don’t have a something@wordoflife.org email set up at all, and if there is no underlying ‘digital signature’ saying it is from word of life, the recipient’s inbox may just conclude it’s spam (or at least the user should mark it spam at that point). Think about how you might get a fake Amazon email or Paypal email asking you to sign in. Those emails can actually legitimately come to your inbox listed as coming from ‘@amazon.com’. 

But they didn’t. They’re a fake.

Luckily inboxes are getting smarter at recognizing this. They can tell when an email is built as being sent from a specific domain (e.g. Amazon.com), but it has no credibility to be listed as such (no digital signature).

So how do you provide this digital signature for your Mandrill or Sendgrid emails?

WARNING: TECHNO BABBLE AHEAD – Put on your Hard Hats or Call your IT guy!

Each service offers their own way to insure deliverability by allowing you to set up SPF & DKIM Security records on your domain that will be checked and verified by either Mandrill or Sendgrid. After these special fingerprints are installed properly on your domain, you will be able to confidently send emails to your ministry from Roll Call and reap the benefits of being able to see detailed analytics of each email going out after it leaves Roll Call.

The Key Step:

When setting up these ‘digital signatures’, there are useful guides provided by both services:

End of techno babble

At the end of the day, using a dedicated outgoing email sending service will not only help your emails reach their destination reliably (not the spam folder), but will give you more data to work with in the long run.

By the Book, Inc. is in no way affiliated with Sendgrid or Mailchimp or Mandrill and did not get any compensation for writing this post. We simply like their products.

Outside of By the Book, Josh's superpowers include being a husband/dad, playing guitar, writing songs, and other geekery involving computers and code. He has a hard time passing up a board game of Settlers of Catan.