You can automate most activities you could perform in an email client with email actions, here is a short list of the unique applications of email automation:
- Send out prewritten emails on a specific schedule, like once every week.
- Create unique, custom emails using templates, so each recipient receives a tailored message.
- Collect the information from sent emails or email responses for analysis.
- Sort or organize incoming or existing email into folders, or with tags.
- Use automation to manage large scale email campaigns internally or externally.
- Monitor an email inbox or folder for incoming emails, then trigger a Workflow based on the message.
Different actions or settings can be configured to accomplish some of the examples above. Some of the most common and useful examples are provided below. For a full list of email actions, and how to configure or use each one, browse our actions topic for information on each.
Different email actions handle replies differently. Email actions will either convert a reply into fields, or into a comment on the instance. Check each email action to understand how a reply is handled.
For example, the Email: Wait for reply action converts replies into output fields of the action. Data like the From email, attachments, or Body text are saved in fields.
The Email: Send an Email action on the other hand, turns all email responses into comments on the Workflow instance. Any reply to the email will become a comment.
If a sent email is not delivered, resending the email can be a mundane task; especially in an email campaign with hundreds of emails. Many Catalytic email actions, like Email: Send an Email or Email: Wait for reply have an email bounce feature which monitors if an email bounces.
Sent email can either be delivered, get caught in spam, or be undeliverable. If it’s undelivered, email actions return output fields like:
- Email bounced: A
FALSEresponse for whether the email bounced.
- Bounced email address: The email address where the email could not be delivered.
- Bounce message: The message or error returned by the system.
This email bounce capability makes for easy automation of undeliverable mail. For example:
- After a large email campaign is sent, use actions to collect each Bounced email address in a data table for review.
- Or, automate resending the email based on the Bounce message, if the issue was temporary.
We have a whole article just on this feature, check out the Undelivered or bounced email article for more information on setting up email bounce handling, best practices, and tips on troubleshooting.
The Email: Send an Email action has the option to track when a sent email is opened. The action has the field Track Email Opens where you can turn this feature on and off.
Set the Track Email Opens field to
true to record and return the following fields, and more, in output fields for the action:
- Email opened: A
FALSEresponse for whether or not the email was opened.
- Date Time: The date and time the email was opened
- IP address: The IP Address for the user who opened the email
This email tracking functionality adds unique capabilities to email automation. For example:
- Use the Email opened field as a condition for sending a follow up email: If an email was never opened, send a reminder next week.
- Or, build the IP address and Date time field data into a geographic analysis on campaign success: what regions are opening the email within the first 5 minutes?
We use a tracking pixel to indicate if an email was opened or not, which is an industry standard method to track email opens across different organizations and email servers.
This works by adding a single pixel image to the outbound email. Because the pixel image is not loaded until the email is opened, we can tell when the email was opened by when the pixel image was requested from the server. Some mail services, servers, and organizations purposefully strip all images and attachments from emails, so results vary depending on the recipient.
Up to 50 emails can be sent with our basic email actions. To automate repetitive, high volume email campaigns over 50 emails, you can use the Tables: Start Workflow for Each Row action to trigger sending thousands of emails based on a list.
The Tables: Start Workflow for Each Row action works by repeatedly triggering a Workflow that just sends emails, for every row in a table. A table of email addresses are passed to the Workflow which uses each row’s email address to send an email.
You can even add more information for each row, like the email address and full name, and dynamically populate the email with the recipients name for a more relevant campaign.
A team can start 10 tasks per second with the default Workflow system limits. Since large volume Workflows may take a bit longer, keep these rate limits in mind when adding in delays or task conditions.
Customer teams have the option to enable custom domains for emails sent from the Catalytic app. For example, a Workflow task that sends an email will deliver it from @
If a custom domain is not set, all emails sent from the Catalytic app will use the default domain: @
Custom outbound email domains require extra time and support: contact Catalytic Support if you would like to enable custom email domains. We can also configure a Static IP address range for outbound emails if requested by an administrator.
If you build a Workflow with email actions, there are a few tips when testing email tasks.
To prevent unintended spam, Workflow’s will not send two or more identical emails in quick succession. If an email has the same recipient, subject, and body as an email sent in the last hour, it will bounce. This limit can appear when testing an email action with the same recipient, subject, and body.
To run multiple tests, ensure that each email is unique. One way to do this is to add a run ID or current date time field reference to the subject or body of an email so each tested email is not identical to the last. This ensures tests can be run back to back.
A Workflow will not attempt to send future emails to any address where an email bounced. The bounced email address is blacklisted internally and has to be removed through a separate process. Contact Catalytic Support if an email is accidentally blacklisted in this way.
Webforms, manual tasks, and other email tasks will display differently if the recipient is in or outside the Catalytic team.
- If an action sends a web form to a Catalytic user, the web form is converted into a task.
- If a task is assigned to an email address outside the Catalytic team, it is converted into a webform.
Be sure to test email actions on email addresses inside your Catalytic team, and outside the team, to validate they work in all situations.
To make this easier, some email providers support appending
+ after an email address, followed by words or text, to create a sibling email that will still direct all mail to the same inbox. For example, if Mary wanted to create a a sibling email for her
email@example.com email, she could send an email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org all emails will still deliver to her
email@example.com. This is a helpful way to try testing externally since the Workflow only recognizes
firstname.lastname@example.org a team member, not
If something’s not working as expected, or you’re looking for suggestions, check through the options below.
After an email is sent, if it bounces this action normally returns extra output fields like: Email bounced, Bounced email address and Bounce message.
A common reason why these fields may not appear or appear blank is if the process ends before the email bounces. If an email is opened or bounces after the process ends, the fields cannot be updated.
To avoid this, add a task with a delay after the email task, or set up the Workflow so this task is not the last task in a process.
If you get the bounce message “Catalytic has sent too many emails to this address recently. Please try again later”:
Catalytic limits the number of emails you can send to a single email address to 100 emails per hour. Exceeding that amount, under all circumstances, will trigger this message.
If you have a business case that requires you to send over 100 emails an hour to a single recipient, please contact Catalytic Support.
If you have the comment on the instance, “Catalytic did not send your email … because an email with the exact same subject and body was sent to this address within the last hour.”:
Catalytic has an built-in spam prevention system to limit unintentional duplicate emails—this is intended to help avoid accidental spam, or embarrassing duplicates.
This error occurs if an email with an identical body and subject line has been sent to the same email address within the last hour. To send the exact same email, wait an hour.
To bypass the spam protection, see How do I bypass the email spam prevention feature?.
If you have the comment on the instance, “Catalytic did not send your email … to [addresses] because … have a history of bouncing”:
- If prior emails have repeatedly bounce for a given email address, that address will be added to our blacklist to prevent sending messages inadvertently. This message indicates that Catalytic skipped sending the message because past messages repeatedly bounced.
- If you know the issue that causes the bounce is fixed, you can email support to ask for the email to be removed from the blacklist.
To bypass the spam prevention, make each email unique. For example, add the Run Start Date to each email—this globally available field includes the start date in
2020-01-22T16:35:55.342Z format. This will ensure all emails are sent, even if all other content is the same.
💡Tip: To make the date format more readable, use the Dates: Format a date time action with a format like