email systems

Email Automation. Comparing: Mailshake, Woodpecker, SmartReach and SalesHandy

We have a part 2 about this article that you can read HERE.


Instead of a regular email campaign, we wanted to try a new approach and disguise our message in what looked to be a personal email. We research a couple of different tools and decided to take 4 popular ones to the test. We tested these platforms over the course of 2 weeks.
The platforms that we decided to test were Mailshake.com, Woodpecker.co, SmartReach.io, and SalesHandy.com.

Mailshake

We had heard of Mailshake before, so decided to give that one a try first. After creating a Gmail account, we linked it to the Mailshake with 2 clicks. Next, I went to set up the campaign. Divided into 6 smaller steps, this was very obvious, easy to make and caused no real troubles. A first downside comes in the 2nd step, however, as the recipient limit was set to 5.000 and we had a list of 15.000. This was solved fairly easy afterward, as I just copied the first campaign twice and uploaded a new list.Composing the email messages was also very easy. You select a title, write the email and then you are left with 3 options for the follow-up emails:- Regular follow-up: Send a reply (re:) email after a set couple of days- Drip: Send a new email after a set couple of days- On Click: Send a new email after a set couple of days, after they clicked a specific link.


You are then left with an option to personalize each individual email, but since we had almost 15.000 to check, we didn’t bother with this option. It is neat to do if you only have a couple emails to automate, however. Before sending, you have the option to include the tracking of opens and clicked links. The recipient will automatically opt-out the automation after they replied to one of the emails. The sending calendar is set per Gmail account and not per campaign and I found that to be somewhat annoying. It should also be mentioned, that adding an extra Gmail account permits you of purchasing a new subscription, thus doubling the cost. This is true for all tools that we tested, and we’ll discuss prices later on in the article.
When we set up the launch calendar, we decided to send 2 emails every 5 minutes, between 8 AM and 6 PM. This looked to us like a normal, human-like setting but boy were we wrong. After just 2 days, Google immediately blocked our sending for 24 hours, and we were forced to change the schedule. We had to do this multiple times because Google kept on blocking our sending. Naturally, I sent an email to their support team where a friendly lady called Anna responded very quickly and providing us with some in-house articles and the message that “You kind of have to try a few things, start low and ramp up as you go and figure out what works best for you”. I emailed back and forth with her multiple times, and their response times were always very admirable. However, the tips she send us over weren’t very helpful as they often had no real effect and eventually, we found out ourselves that just sending 250 or 300 emails in bulk over the course of a couple of minutes worked best.

I guess she was right in her first message saying “You kind of have to try a few things and figure out what works best for you”. But even then, we got blocked on multiple occasions and had to wait 24 hours before they would send again. This is going to be a recurring hassle throughout the article so brace yourself!

Woodpecker

Next up, we had the most confidence in Woodpecker. They claim to have an algorithm that mimics “human-like” sending, and we felt that was the lacking technology over at Mailshake. Linking the Gmail account was just as easy and setting up the campaign was also pretty similar. You can only do a follow-up email and it doesn’t work as a reply (re:) which I feel is a missed opportunity. Just like with Mailshake, you can include ‘first_name’ and other tags to personalize each email. On Woodpecker, you do set the sending schedule per campaign but you can only set a between time for each day as the actual sending is covered by their algorithm. You do have an option of tracking opens, but not link clicks. This didn’t really matter for our campaign, but it should be noted nonetheless. You can import a contact list per campaign or select them from your database on Woodpecker which should be a positive thing but due to their UI was incredibly hard to figure out. The overall UI looks fun and totally different graphically but it does suffer a little in readability in the beginning.


We started off by sending no more than 50 emails a day. But after sending about 450 emails, Woodpecker also hit the Gmail sending quota and stopped sending for 24 hours. So far for the “human-like” sending algorithm. The screen to check the statistics is very clear and easy to check in a quick glance, a bonus point for that!

SmartReach

We now had our hopes set for SmartReach. Again, linking the Gmail account was incredibly easy and without any problems. But, an immediate issue is the fact that you are only allowed to send 100 email per day (try sending 15.000 people 3 emails with only 100 per day) and in order to contact more than 1000 prospects a month, you need to upgrade to the most expensive plan. But again, pricing will be discussed later in the article.
Setting up the campaign itself, was pretty easy just like the previous tools. SmartReach also allows to upload a list per campaign, and/or select from a database you create on your account. Similar to Woodpecker though, selecting all the previously used contacts proved again to be a hassle and should be made easier with a one-click solution. Also similar to Woodpecker, SmartReach only allows a follow-up email that works like a new email and not with the preferred reply (re:) mechanism. Mailshake definitely excels in this department.


The sending schedule is more limited then the platforms discussed above, as you are only able to set a send between day and select the days you want to send. Remember, Mailshake allowed you to do the same, but also select how many per day, how many at the same time and after how many minutes while Woodpecker allowed you to set a between sending time for each day. Similar to Mailshake, SmartReach provides open- and link-click-tracking and as a bonus, you can decide when a recipient opts-out on either a link clicked or reply.


SmartReach works with a “warm-up period” where it slowly increases the number of emails it will send per day. As of the time writing this article, it’s still in the “warm-up period” but with over 150 emails sent, it’s looking promising so far.

SalesHandy

Last and probably least, is SalesHandy. Before I really get into this one, I quickly do want to say that we only tested SalesHandy’s ‘Email Campaign’ section. They do offer various other services that we haven’t explored yet.


That being said, their ‘Email Campaign’ service is a complete disaster. First of all, you can only add 2000 recipients to each campaign. It actually starts at only 200 and you have to purchase the ‘Enterprise’ plan in order to boost it up to 2000. 50$ per month isn’t considered enterprise money in my books, so quite comically, our little Belgium startup went with that. They even boast about it on their website literally saying “We have revised the CSV upload limit from 200 emails to 2000 emails. Yes, that’s right. 10x times the original limit”. Please take a look at your competitors SalesHandy, 2000 is not that much at all. Linking the Gmail account and setting up the campaign worked just like you’d expect it to work with only one massive negative I have to mention, the fact that you can not set a send between date. Meaning the SalesHandy program will try to get rid of your emails as fast as possible. I thought we would hit the sending limit within half an hour, but the real problem still had to show itself.


I let the SalesHandy tool run for a couple of hours and then went to check the Gmail account inbox to find 500 or so messages that said ‘You have reached the sending limit’. Not only did the SalesHandy tool not stop the sending automatically, they started bouncing from the first emails. The fact that we had to split up in so many campaigns, made checking the problem even harden and it turned out that 7 or 8 emails bounced, then one would go through followed by another dozen or so bounces. Rinse and repeat. I tried launching it up again with the same result, deeming this program totally useless.

Prices

Now Let’s compare the prices.
Mailshake: We used the 29$ Monthly ‘Basic’ version.Pricing page: https://mailshake.com/pricing/
Woodpecker: We used the 40$ Monthly ‘Start-Up’ version.Pricing page: https://woodpecker.co/pricing/
SmartReach: We used the 24$ Monthly ‘Standard’ version.Pricing page: https://smartreach.io/pricing
SalesHandy: We used the 50$ Monthly ‘Enterprise’ version.Pricing page: https://www.saleshandy.com/pricing/

Conclusion

We have a part 2 about this article that you can read HERE.


So which one should you give a try? My first answer would be, to try each of them for yourself and see what you like best. After all, you’ll probably have a different experience.But if you send a small number of emails, I’d go for Mailshake or SmartReach. The latter takes a while to get started, but once it goes it seems to just go. Mailshake, on the other hand, will take a bit more maintenance but you can send larger amounts from the get-go. Woodpecker also seem promising, I would suggest you try the free trial. SalesHandy is a definite no-go. But they do offer other services.
If you’d like to send a larger number of emails, I would suggest to invest some time in other email campaign software like MailChimp or SendInBlue. Make sure you send emails from a different domain name though, as sending large amounts of emails can sometimes damage the reputation and damage your private email address deliverability!


You can contact us if you have more questions regarding email campaigns, we’d love to help you set things up!

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