Connecting a New Mailbox

When you connect a new mailbox to Bluetick, it goes through an initialization process which prepares Bluetick to monitor the mailbox for incoming emails that correspond to emails sent on behalf of the user. There are two steps to the initialization process:

1) Initial Mailbox Snapshot
2) Mine Mailbox for Contacts

Within the first minute or two of connecting the mailbox, you should see a Notification in your account that looks something like this:

This entire process typically takes 10-15 minutes to complete.

Step 1: Initial Mailbox Snapshot

During the first step, Bluetick connects using the credentials provided by the user and takes a “snapshot” of the current state of the mailbox. This snapshot includes folder names, metadata about the folders(or labels) and metadata about email messages in those folders.

Bluetick downloads the complete message headers for each mail message. This includes the following:
  • To, From, CC & BCC fields
  • Received Date
  • Subject
  • Length
It also includes the full MIME headers, as well as string and numeric identifiers which uniquely identify a message within each folder.

This information does NOT include:
  • The contents of these emails
  • File attachments
The intent of this step is to gather enough data to ensure that Bluetick can accurately match emails sent from Bluetick with received messages.

Step 2: Mine Mailbox for Contacts

When the Initial Mailbox Snapshot is complete, Bluetick begins mining the header information to identify people who you’ve sent or received email to which you may be interested in adding as a Contact to Bluetick.

First, it iterates over all of the message headers for emails you’ve received in the last six months. Then it aggregates the number of times each unique email address appears in the From, To, CC and BCC fields of those emails.

When this aggregation is complete, you will see a Notification in your account similar to the following:

This means that Step 2 is finished. Following the link (or navigating to “Import-> Import from Mailbox” and selecting this mailbox) provides you with this aggregated data. You may then sort these potential contacts based on criteria such as the number of emails sent, number of emails received or when the first contact was made.

Each can be created as a Contact in your Bluetick account with a single click of a button.

Why does it work this way?

The answer to Step 2 is that we're trying to help you get your account populated and set up faster. Not everyone has a spreadsheet to import and there are usually conversations that have been had recently which slipped through the cracks. Mining the mailbox for those contacts helps you find them.

The answer to Step 1 is a lot more complicated.

Bluetick works on every mail server, not just GMail

Bluetick is different than most other products on the market in that we access mail servers directly using the IMAP protocol. This protocol has been around for 20+ years. It’s one of the most stable options and has more widespread adoption than almost anything else out there. It provides a low level of access to the mailbox, but the trade-off is that it’s more complicated to deal with and you need to have your own storage infrastructure for the data.

Many of Bluetick’s competitors use the GMail API to access mail servers. The most obvious problem is that they generally don’t work on anything except Google’s mail servers. If you’re using Office 365, Exchange Server, FastMail or your own custom mail server, you can’t use those solutions.

Bluetick doesn’t notice, nor does it care. It works exactly the same in those situations as it does on Google’s servers.

Bluetick doesn't miss emails

Second, those products are beholden to Google’s infrastructure. To provide the GMail API at scale, notifications to vendors who are using the API are often batched on an hourly basis to those apps.

This has some drawbacks. In speaking with prospects prior to implementing Bluetick, I discovered that nearly everyone who used a product relying on the GMail API had experienced weird timing issues on multiple occasions. These aren’t visible until after you begin using the product and of course it's going to happen when you're interacting with sales prospects it's sending emails to on your behalf.

A general example is something like this. Let's say the app sends an email on your behalf and your prospect responds to it. If you get to that email, reply directly and then archive or move it to a different folder, sometimes the email message will be missed entirely by the application because the response from your prospect is no longer in the Inbox.

This can cause a wide range of seemingly odd behaviors, many of which break the fundamental illusion that you personally sent each email. The most common one is that the app sends the next email in the sequence because it's not aware that a reply was received.

It's NOT OK to completely miss the fact that an email was received. One of the fundamental jobs of this type of software is to match sent emails with received emails. If it doesn't see that an email was received, it's definitely not going to be able to match it against a sent email.

On the other hand, Bluetick verifies that it has an accurate local copy of each mailbox, every 10-12 minutes. It traverses each and every folder in the mailbox to find messages that weren't on the mail server the last time it looked. It even looks in the Spam and Trash folders. Whether you have two folders or two thousand that are nested ten levels deep, Bluetick looks in every single one. We do this because we don't want to miss the fact that an email was received, responded to by the user from their phone and then archived.

Bluetick can differentiate a response from a reply

You: What does that even mean?

If you send an email and receive an "Out of Office" message back, is it a response or a reply?

Technically speaking, you received a response, but not a reply. It was probably automated by the mail server, hence the name 'autoresponder'. If the person saw your email, clicked the "Reply" button and sent a message, that would be a reply. That's when you would want to remove someone from an email sequence.

Bluetick can tell the difference between these two situations, but only because it has access to the headers, the From, To and Subject fields.

Fun Fact: Not all autoresponders are the same. They may be generated at the mail server, in the email client or even from an application. Most follow the established protocols for autoresponders, but some of them don't! Bluetick has a rules engine that evaluates every newly discovered email in your mailbox. It specifically looks for patterns in the headers that indicate an automated response and does the right thing anyway, even though the sender was a filthy liar.

Edge cases are hard to fix without data

If you don't have enough data to properly analyze an email, it's impossible to know if the decisions you're making about how to handle it are correct. Sometimes the information you need to know is spread across several headers or fields. Evaluating them independently isn't good enough but three or four together will suddenly make sense.

Bluetick works this way because having access to all of the header information for every email is the best way to solve the problem.