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Send E-mail at Predefined Times Using Free Tools

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I am a fan of using Gmail http://marketing.about.com/cs/directmarketing/a/dripmktg.htm  for all of my e-mail needs, in particular, the Google Apps http://www.google.com/a version. However, there is one thing that Gmail is missing that I find essential for increasing e-mail productivity. How do you send an e-mail at a specific time in the future? This blog post will show you how to do that using free tools. Enjoy!

First the bad news, Gmail can not do this. I suggest that all who read this send a request  http://mail.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=suggest  to the Gmail support team to add this feature natively to Gmail.

Now for the good news, Gmail has implemented IMAP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Message_Access_Protocol  which is a feature that allows us to utilize other free e-mail tools to send e-mails at a predetermined specified time.

First download and install Thunderbird http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/ , then connect to your GMail account using IMAP http://lifehacker.com/software/geek-to-live/turn-thunderbird-into-the-ultimate-gmail-imap-client-314574.php , then follow this guide http://www.wikihow.com/Send-an-Email-at-a-Specific-Time-in-the-Future-Using-Mozilla-Thunderbird.  and you are done!

Here are some ideas for using this new tool:

  • Send reminders to yourself or your staff for the day, week, month or year.
  • Implement a drip marketing http://marketing.about.com/cs/directmarketing/a/dripmktg.htm  campaign.
  • Create all your happy birthday emails one year in advance.
  • Send status report requests on projects that you have delegated.
  • Set up a home and car maintenance schedule.
  • Send inspirational pictures and quotes to yourself throughout the week.
  • Pick out four pieces of information of great value to someone and send them out once a week.

There is one big downside to this method. Since Thunderbird operates on your local computer, the computer must be turned on at the time the email is to be sent.

There is a web based solution available that allows you to send predefined e-mails called TimeCave http://www.timecave.com/ >; however, it does not interface with GMail.

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ThemBid.com, a service offering free advertising for businesses and makes finding services and products easy for consumers. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ElmerThomas.com.  

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