One of the (current) features that I noticed that Yesware needed in my Tout Vs. Yesware post was the ability to schedule email for later. It's a powerful thing - to be sending out templated emails while I'm watching The Daily Show. I always wanted to send out templated emails tomorrow and Yesware doesn't yet do that. Matthew Bellows, Yesware CEO suggested I give Boomerang a toss.
I did. And yup, sure enough it does about what it says it does. From their sales page:
Schedule an email to be sent later. Easy email reminders.
Boomerang for Gmail is a Firefox / Chrome plugin that lets you take control of when you send and receive email messages.
Now, this "later" feature is useful for a few reasons--some of 'em good, and some evil. With Boomerang
- [Good] Respect Other's Time Zones: We have current clients in production in Australia, Israel. With boomerang can send at a respectful time in the faraway place. No more waking up at 3am to send that email to Nigeria. (Feature hint: you should mark your emails to send at the start of the contact's work day).
- [Neutral] Pretend You've got a life: I make emails go out an hour later to slow down conversations. To make myself look busy. To make others wait. Oh, my narcissism has no bounds.
- [Evil] Ruin Your Rival's Meeting: When you learn a rival has a meeting, you can schedule an email right before that will distract them (so they will have to go through the meeting in agony, hoping to put out that fire that you caused).
- [Evil] Cause General Mayhem: You can now schedule an email to get to someone while you're with them and have deniability that it was you that pulled that prank. Shame on them for checking their cell phone at dinner.
The works with Google Chrome, as well as Firefox.
Now, there's quite a backstory to Boomerang for Gmail, apparently.
Dave McClure - of 500 Startups fame had a $375,000 ride to his mechanic
. The gist is he needed a lift, the Baydin guys pitched him. He committed to $50k and wound up doing more once he vetted them.
You could use Boomerang with:
- Phrase Express
And more. It can schedule reminders and just do things.
On to the rating--but first a disclosure:
Yesware paid us a lot of money to make an awesome video. We're in the process of doing that. Boomerang has some features that compete with Yesware. It could be headed onto Yesware's Turf. Realize that we're never going to say anything bad about clients. Even when they are jerks. We've had jerk clients. We didn't tell. (So far the Yesware guys are good people). Anyway, they have some areas where they are direct competitors. So...
Ratings are given in 6 categories, and go from one star (think Bob for Microsoft
), to 5 Stars (Think: OSX 10.6) So far, we don't do "grade inflation," so a 3.5 star rating is what we'd consider pretty good. Nothing to cry over. 3 stars isn't bad. 2 stars is iffy. We won't be publishing ratings with less than a 2.5 average
star rating, and you need to get a 3 star or better rating to get us to make a movie for you.
There's an overall category as well - often (like in MacJournal or Evernote) the whole is better than the sum of its parts.
Boomerang For Gmail Rating:
Onboarding/Install Setup: This was easy enough. Pull it down in Chrome, it more or less does everything. It was pretty painless, and I have no idea why anyone would expect a better setup. The one bummer (that kept them from 5 stars) is that we didn't get to play with the best toys during the trial period: they allow you to track open rates and such, and that was hidden to trial users. Practically speaking, I might want this but I don't know it yet because I don't get to play with it for 30 days. Or even 3. So that loses a star.
I expected something that would more or less let me send emails later, and schedule reminders. I got just that. It would be nice to have a choice in my "send later" button. It would be more elegant to be able to enter a mode where everything was sent Monday morning till I turned it off. I kind of expected that, so I'll ding a half star.
This is adding refinement to an existing way of communicating. Adding elegance is nontrivial, and I like the features that they've built so far. I can't wait for them to build things into the interface (like predictive time zone stuff- if the dude sent me an email from Moscow, I maybe should have an option to send during moscow time if I want it.) Boomerang is a luxury buy, for sure, but MARCOMM pros and people that want to send out stuff to an audience of one should use it.
I might like a quick setup of shortcodes that would allow me to use mail or send this stuff from my iPhone. A "send to boomeraing" address or an iPhone/Droid ap. 3.5 stars for what they are trying to do here.
Design, Interface and Support:
The landing page is ugly. If it converts - God love 'em. My guess is that it could be better. The page sends signals of indifferent quality. But it looks WAY WORSE than any other part of the application. When you get into the application you interact - for the most part - with a couple simple buttons:
to send later. Another button that says "Boomerang" will email it back home. So there's that.
Still, the ugly landing page makes me think that they are indifferent on the inside to the quality.
The dashboard is self explanatory as well.
I didn't need support - I see that they are hiring a customer service rep, but I can't imagine anything being more self explanatory. A little hover text might have been nice, but after the first time I used them, it was OK.
They get 4 stars - a good rating.
This let me do what I want. It didn't have any arbitrary rules, it didn't stick <P> tags in my gmail or anything stupid like that. It didn't suck my contacts out of my address book "for my convenience." I was not forced to conjugate quadruple negatives to avoid sending all of my contacts an invite
Check the following boxes if you don't not want to send the specified contacts an invite to our service.
It even appeared to leave my Yesware tracking codes alone. It didn't do anything Bebo-esque l
ike make me invite my address book to try Boomerang, a new way I'm tricking them all. When I login it says, hey, I can get rewards if I sign up. Woo hoo.
I'm gonna give a 5 star rating for user respect here. They left me alone, did what we asked, and that shows that the team is good.
But...is it a Platform?
Is BoomerangGmail going in a direction consistent with having a platform? Well, with the features on the "pro" level it seems that they are intent on moving into the space occupied by Tout and Yesware.
Having open and click tracking is important to be a marketers or salesperson's tool. I can see adding functionality here that eventually untethers themselves from Gmail and causes them to have plugins for Outlook and even Mail.
Hart to say if this is going to be a platform. I can see things I'd want to do (i.e hook up http://ifttt.com/ to it). I'd love to cobble together things to do later, send texts etc, and this is one tool that can help do that. I'm not grading this on "is it a platform" since I don't yet know the team or their intentions.
Overall: I give this 4 stars. The thing that I'm going to say is that if you don't want or need this, then it has no use. I like what it brings to the table, so obviously, I'll be using it. Hopefully, I'll be able to con the guys at Baydin
to comp me indefinitely so I can keep you updated on how this is working.
Boomerang for Gmail Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Boomerang For Gmail:
The Good: You can send email later.
The Bad: Some people don't care that much.
How To Buy:
Trial: Free, 30 days, no credit card needed.
Features Tested on the "pro" level. They have one more level that we didn't get.