“Mixmax” is a free service for Gmail users. Click to add it to your Chrome or Firefox web browser and get some great features that Gmail doesn’t have — like “boilerplate.” These are standard replies you send over and over to respond to standard questions and comments.
Instead of typing in the same reply to these emails, we now click “templates” from a drop-down list. You can choose from one of the Mixmax standard replies, but it’s more useful set up our own. Click “new” and type in a standard response to be slugged in whenever you need it. We have three templates so far, all of which include cartoon images of ourselves.
We particularly like one used by the late Senator Metzenbaum of Ohio when answering crazy complaints from constituents. It went: “Dear Sir (or madam): We feel it is our duty to inform you that some crank has been sending out letters under your name.”
Mixmax also makes it easy to add maps, surveys, and other email enhancements. It lets you schedule an email to go out at a specific time and also lets you know when your email has been opened. Just click the “live” page to see the list of emails recently opened.
The service’s newest feature is “Mail Merge.” A mail merge lets you send the same email to a group, each of whom will get a personalized version starting with “Dear Penelope,” “Hey George,” or whatever. We know that mail merge has been around in Microsoft Word since King Tut, but it has a learning curve. Mail Merge was a snap with Mixmax. Upload a “csv” file (comma separated values) and it merges the names for you. The easiest way to get your contacts in a csv file is to click “Contacts” while you’re in Gmail and then click “export to Outlook or other apps as a csv file.”
By the way, just to say that companies do sometimes listen to us (apropos of our last column about corporate tunnel vision), Joy sent them a note saying it was way too complex to navigate and why didn’t they just have pop-up messages telling the user what to do next. Sure enough, a few weeks went by and the updated version had pop-ups telling the user what to do next. They said thanks. Long live the power of the press.