Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Using filters to trigger a text message for important emails

I think it's really important for people to choose the most effective way to communicate messages they send.  In this modern world we probably have way too many options and that often leads to messages not being communicated in a timely and effective manner.  For instance, if I have an urgent need, email is probably not the best way to communicate that need. Vice versa, if the need isn't urgent why would I text (or is it txt?) message someone?   Another issue often complicating communications is that the sender of the message might have a different priority on the message then the receiver.  Untimely communications can lead to other problems so I like to avoid it whenever possible.

This topic of effective communications has recently been on my mind regarding real estate sales.   I've just recently started selling real estate in Virginia and West Virginia and in my current situation I simply don't have very many leads.  Without leads I'm not going to make any sales so it's really important for me to place a priority on receiving these leads and acting quickly.  The best source of leads for me at this time is my broker and so I consider any communication from him as urgent.  Unfortunately, sometimes the communication comes in the form of email.  I do regularly check my email throughout the day but not really at the frequency I need to if the email contains a sales lead from from my broker.   I needed a solution to this problem and I have found one.   I have a way to convert emails to txt messages and I can do it in a selective fashion so that only emails from certain people are converted to a text message.  Since I check txt message relatively quickly throughout the day it will be more effective for me to receive all emails from my broker as text messages.   Using Gmail filters and the text message gateway of my cell phone service I can convert these urgent emails into a text message when the email arrives in my inbox.  How can I do that you ask?   You can follow these general steps to do the same thing:
  • First, determine your phone numbers email address.  This is a good article describing how to send a text message via email.   It also describes some limitations you might encounter and the difference between SMS vs. MMS.   For example, SMS has a 160 character limitation on the message.  MMS doesn't have that limitation by if your plan doesn't include MMS messaging (many / most probably do) then you won't receive the message.
  • After you know your own number try sending yourself an email to that number to confirm it works for you.  You should test out both the SMS and MMS gateways.   Since I'm using AT&T my phone's email addresses were (MYcellNUMBER)@txt.att.net (for SMS) and (MYcellNUMBER)@mms.att.net where the (MYcellNUMBER) was replaced with my actual cell phone number, only digits and no parens. 
  • Since you're going to forward emails using this cell phone email address you will likely have a more readable text message if you are using your cell phones MMS address.  
NOTE: From here forward assumes you are using Gmail.  If you have a different email application you probably have some filtering and forwarding capability but you'll have to figure out how to set that up. 
  • Now that you have confirmed you received a text message from an email you just sent to your cell phone you can move on to setting up a "filter" to forward specific emails to your phone.  To forward emails with Gmail you need to setup the forwarding address.  Follow these steps:
  1.  Login to your Gmail account
  2. Click on the settings "gear" in the upper right hand corner and choose "Settings" from the drop down menu.
  3. Click the link near the top labeled "Forwarding and POP/IMAP"
  4. The first section on this page "should" be "Forwarding".  Click the button "Add a forwarding address".  Use the SMS or MMS cell phone number email address you determined from above. Click the OK button on the dialog confirming you want to send the confirmation code.
  5. Gmail will require you to confirm the request by sending you the "text" email to your phone.  Somewhere near the top of the text message you'll find the confirmation code.  You can enter this
  6. Find the confirmation code and enter it into the "confirmation code" prompt that appeared below the "Add a forwarding address button, then click the "Verify" button.
  7. After you have saved the forwarding address you can move on to setup a filter to actually forward emails.
  • Now you can setup a filter to forward specific emails.  Click the "Filters and Blocked Addresses" link to the left of the "Fowarding and POP/IMAP" link you previous clicked in the instructions above.
  • Find and click the "Create a new filter" link near the middle of the page.
  • Setup criteria for the specific emails you want to forward.  In the from prompt I used specific email addresses separated by the word "OR" to specifically select emails from my broker. After you enter criteria you think will select just the emails you want to forward then click the "Create filter with this search >>" link near the bottom of the dialog.
  • NOTE: The emails you see behind the dialog, after you click the link, should reflect those you would want to forward in the future.
  • Now click the check box labeled "Forward it to:" and in the drop down labeled "Choose an address" select your newly added cell phone forwarding email you added above.
  • Finally, click the blue "Create filter" button near the left hand bottom of this dialog.
At this point you have now setup a filter that will forward your incoming email to your cell phone.  If you're like me this means you'll be seeing those broker emails as text messages on your phone.

Hope this helps you follow up on your sales leads quickly!

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