If you send email from your CTO account or plan to do so, please read this article in its entirety, as it addresses some important changes that will impact you.
We have offered several ways to send email from CTO. First, we have offered an SMTP option. This allows you to use your existing email provider and to send emails through their service. However, many customers have tried to use “free” email providers, like gmail or yahoo, with CTO. Neither Gmail, nor any of the other free services, are designed for bulk emailing. (“Bulk” email, by today’s standards, is anytime you send a message to more than about a half dozen recipients). In fact, most of the time these free providers will not even authenticate when trying to send through their SMTP service from outside sources, like CTO. If you try to send bulk email through one of these free email service providers, one of a few of things will happen: your gmail account (or yahoo, hotmail, etc.) will be shut down by the provider for abuse (even if you think that prayer request was totally legit), or it will be delivered directly to the user’s spam folder, or with certain providers, it will never be delivered at all.
Please understand–in the world we live in today, free email accounts cannot be used for sending bulk emails. Ever. Even if you’re only sending to a dozen recipients, you could be flagged as a spammer by your provider or by your recipient’s providers.
In the past, we have been able to work around this limitation by integrating with Mandrill. As a subsidiary of MailChimp (a popular bulk email service), Mandrill at one time offered a certain number of free emails each month, making it a really good solution for churches. Recently Mandrill made some changes for new users, limiting the ability to use free email accounts, and requiring users to validate their domains (for example, yourchurchname.org). Mandrill is now imposing those changes, without much notice, on all Mandrill users. If you currently use Mandrill for sending email through ChurchTrac Online, you may no longer be able to do so. Please understand, this is not the result of any changes we have made, but are the result of changes that Mandrill is making to their business model. Going forward, Mandrill will be an add-on service to paid MailChimp accounts.
For many of you, the idea of having to pay something additional each month to send email is outrageous. We hear you. Unfortunately (thanks to spammers), that is likely where the email world is heading. We understand your frustration and are looking into other options. We’ve always tried to provide cost-effective solutions to our customers, and will continue to do so. However, like we’ve already mentioned, you should not expect to be able to send bulk email from a free provider going forward, regardless of which church software application you are using.
Our support team is here to help too. Simply create a new ticket on our support resources page, and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.