Ok friends, I’ve got a super simple Gmail hack for you today that is going to be HUGE once you see how incredibly useful it is.
If you’re creating online courses, building an email list, giving away content upgrades or freebies on your website, you’re a coach booking appointments online, you’re a freelancer using some kind of a CRM to manage your clients, contracts and invoices…
Whatever it is you’re doing, you NEED to be testing those systems as a customer to make sure they work and they’re easy for your clients to use.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ll point it out anyway; if you never test it out yourself to see what they see, you’re going to end up with frustrated customers and a lot of tech support emails.
And who has time for that.
Recently, a client and I had a little misunderstanding. I set up some integrations and systems to do a certain thing. It was the night before launch, and I thought everything was working great.
Client: So when someone signs up, what’s going to happen is <this particular thing>, right?
Me: No, when they sign up, this thing happens, and THEN that thing happens.
Client: WAIT WHAT?!
Me: I asked you to test it out to see how it works. Did you test it?
They hadn’t. And the reason, they explained, was that, because their main email address was already an Administrator account in this particular piece of software, testing the client experience meant using a secondary email address. They had one, but they didn’t remember the password and it felt like a hassle to go trudging through password recovery hell just to test this one little thing.
You’ve done this too, haven’t you? Good news.
If you use a Gmail or Gsuite email address, you have unlimited email addresses at your disposal all from your primary inbox.
Even if you’re using Gsuite with your own domain name and your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, this still works.
Here’s how simple it is: Add a plus sign and some more words behind the first portion of your email address.
For example, my email address is email@example.com.
When I want to test something as a customer, for my email address I might use:
Whatever system I’m testing will recognize those addresses as new and separate accounts, but Gmail’s servers will ignore whatever comes after the + sign, so all of those emails will still come to my inbox.
By changing the language after the + sign, I can keep track of what I’m testing.
Let’s say I just installed some new email optins all over my site. I’ve got one in the header, one in the sidebar, and one at the bottom of all of my blog posts, and I want to make sure they’re all working.
I would sign up for each of them with a different email:
Then I head over to my email list and check that all three of those emails have been subscribed. If one of them doesn’t show up, I immediately know which optin is broken.
Note that if you’re testing a system that involves creating an account, you’ll want to log out of your Administrator account first or do this in an Incognito window to make sure you’re getting the actual customer experience.
Bonus: Add email filters
Even though Gmail will ignore the additional text in the email address when delivering it to your inbox, it still delivers TO that email address. Meaning that in your inbox, that email will still show that it was sent TO firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can pair that with a filter in Gmail under Settings > Filters, if you’d like to treat emails sent to that particular address in a certain way.
You could do a lot with this, but the most useful is to filter junk mail – when you have to enter an email address to sign up for something and you just KNOW they’re going to send you a lot of crap, you could subscribe with email@example.com and then create a filter that takes email sent to that address and archives or deletes it automatically.
(But don’t do that if you sign up for my email list, ok?)