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Seeking Advice on Building an Integrated Email Management System with Airtable, Make.com, and IMAP

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tnw
4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Hello Airtable Community,

I'm reaching out for guidance on setting up a more streamlined email management system within Airtable, in conjunction with Make.com, for my cold email agency. We've developed a unique setup that leverages individual IMAP connections for each client's email account, hosted on a private VPS server to handle volume. Our current process uses Make.com to capture all incoming emails, turning them into records within a master Airtable base. This base acts as a CRM, meticulously tracking interactions for each client.

Our goal is to refine this system further by enabling direct email replies from within Airtable. Here's a breakdown of our needs and current setup:

  1. Integration Specifics: We use Postbox for email management with an IMAP connection for each client. Each client has a dedicated email account on our private VPS. We've successfully automated the capture of incoming emails to Airtable via Make.com. Now, we're looking to enhance this setup to allow for email replies directly from Airtable.

  2. CRM Functionality: Our Airtable base is configured as a CRM for each client, allowing us to track various interactions and details. The ability to reply to emails within Airtable would streamline our processes significantly, enabling us to maintain context and efficiency.

  3. Email Campaigns: The outbound campaigns are managed through a separate email sending software. Replies to these campaigns are captured in the inbox and subsequently logged in Airtable. Our primary challenge lies in managing these replies efficiently—ideally, directly replying from Airtable and updating the record status to reflect the interaction seamlessly within our CRM workflow.

Main Challenge: The core issue we're facing is integrating a method to reply to emails from within Airtable. Each reply would be unique, so automation for responses isn't viable. We're looking for a way to directly interact with the emails captured as records in Airtable, including a convenient method to update the record status once a reply is sent, thereby integrating it smoothly into our CRM tracking.

Questions for the Community:

  1. Has anyone successfully implemented a similar email management system within Airtable, particularly one that allows for direct replies to emails?
  2. Are there any recommended approaches or tools that integrate well with Airtable and Make.com for this purpose?
  3. Tips on setting up a seamless workflow to update CRM records post-reply within Airtable—any best practices?

We appreciate any insights, advice, or experiences you can share. Our aim is to make our system as efficient and integrated as possible, and we believe the collective wisdom of this community could be incredibly valuable in achieving that.

Thank you in advance for your time and help!

14 Replies 14

Hmm, if it helps, the last time I did this I stored the thread ID with the email record, and then just used said thread ID with the "Reply to Email" action on Zapier so that the email was threaded and that worked fine.  I'm sure there's an equivalent action on Make that'll work for you

I couldn't find a good way to include the previous messages in the thread with the replied email though which was a bummer

It sounds like a really cool project though and I hope it goes really well!

Thanks for the tip, Adam! I’ll look for a similar "Reply to Email" action in Make. It’s a bummer about the previous messages, but I’m on the lookout for a fix. Appreciate your encouragement and insight!

Hi @tnw ,

The IMAP protocol contains the Thread ID, which is how you can link multiple email replies together.

If you want to include all of the previous replies in your reply, you could always use Make’s text aggregator (or other aggregators) to aggregate previous messages and put them at the bottom of your new message.

With some advanced Make workflows, you could probably even get it to look similar to how an email program natively makes it look with multiple levels of quoting.

None of these advanced workflows can be done with Zapier, so it’s fantastic that you standardized on Make for your company.

p.s. I am the top Airtable & Make consultant in the community. If your company has a budget for your project and you’d like to hire an expert Airtable consultant to help you with any of this, please feel free to contact me through my website: Airtable consulting — ScottWorld 

 

Hey Scott,

Thanks a ton for your valuable advice, especially about leveraging the IMAP protocol's Thread ID for connecting email threads. The idea of using Make's text aggregator to compile previous messages is brilliant.

I'm curious about integrating these advanced workflows directly within the Airtable interface. Is it feasible to manage the entire process within Airtable, or might I need to use a 'mailto' link, potentially moving the email sending process to another platform?

Appreciate your insights and glad to hear Make offers more flexibility for this kind of task compared to Zapier. Just wondering if Airtable can keep up with these advanced processes or if some steps will have to happen outside of it.

Thanks again for shedding light on this!

No, you would not be able to do any of these things with a "mailto" link. Mailto links have tons of limitations, including a strict limit on how many characters they can have.

But yes, you can do everything you want to do from within Airtable's interfaces, because you would just trigger your Make automations natively from within Airtable.

I demonstrate how to do this on a much simpler level with basic text messaging on these 2 Airtable podcast episodes (link 1 and link 2), but it would be a similar process for emails.

I've also written an entire post about Make vs. Zapier here

Thanks Scott, i'll take a good look and if i don't find a viable solution maybe we can book a call.

ScottWorld
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Great! Also, here’s a thread on instantly triggering a Make automation from Airtable.

Hi Scott, been delving into this. would you advise using sendgrid/mailgun connection with a button as a easy swift solution ? 

Also watched the video on the simpletexting platform... if only it was simplemail. LOL. Taking a look at some webhook options this afternoon too!

I would not recommend SendGrid, but those platforms are for sending bulk emails. I thought you were sending individual emails, in which case you would use your normal email service.