We all hate checking email, but there are some simple ways to reduce the burden of emails and improve your efficiency. In this article you'll discover some great tips to make your business emails work for you.
1. Separate your business and personal emails!
This may seem obvious, but I work with a lot of small business owners who only have one email account for everything. If you are like this then you probably also have your one email account set up on your phone and maybe your tablet. So you end up dealing with work emails when you are trying to relax and also get distracted by personal emails when you are trying to work. If you need a new personal email account there are loads of places you can get one for free! I would recommend a free iCloud account if you are an apple user or a free Google Gmail account if you have an android phone.
If you don't have a specific email address for your business, then you should definitely get one! If you have got a website already, then your hosting provider can set you up with an email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Compartmentalising your emails helps you to keep your focus and stops you getting distracted.
2. Don't leave your email app running all the time
So this is not a technical tip, but it can be a difficult one to achieve. I have days where I struggle to be productive because I'm constantly distracted by new emails arriving. Set a time in your diary for dealing with emails and then shut down your email app. If your emails are set up on other devices, see if you can disable notifications on that device!
3. Deal with spam so it doesn't clog up your inbox!
We all hate sifting through thousands of junk emails just to get to the ones you actually want to read. Or maybe, you missed an important email because it was in the middle of a list a junk messages.
One of the best ways of dealing with spam is to use a decent email provider. This will help you to make light work of all that junk. If your website host is also hosting your emails, chances are that your emails do not have the best spam filtering available. Here at Perspective Design, we have recently decided to no longer offer email hosting to our clients. To be blunt, we think there are better options out there so we would rather help you get set up the best you can rather that offering an inferior service. We have three different email services that we recommend to our clients. One is free and the other two are subscription based.
Google G-Suite is the new name for Google apps, which includes the paid version of their free gmail service. This is the email system that we use at Perspective Design. The service offers domain based emails (email@example.com) and also includes a host of other features such as Google Drive with over 30gb of online storage. You pay for each inbox that you need, but you'd be surprised at how few inboxes you really need if you are using groups and aliases correctly (more on that later on). One of the reasons we love Gmail is the excellent spam filtering, which takes out the headache of dealing with all of that junk. You also get access to a great range of apps to make configuring your email on different devices super simple.
Microsoft offers a similar service to its business users. Microsoft's exchange based email hosting is excellent and also provides a great level of support. Again, just like G-suite, you pay per inbox (account). The great advantage of an Office 365 account, is that you are also paying for a subscription for the Microsoft Office productivity suite. So if you are already an Office user, then this is going to be a great, economical way to get fantastic email support and also keep your software licences up to date. Exchange also has excellent spam filtering and if you are used to using outlook, you will enjoy their web based emails. With Office 365, you also get 1TB of online storage and apps for Mac / PC / Phones and Tablets.
You may not have heard of Zoho, but they offer a range of business productivity services and have a great reputation with their sales and marketing tools.
Zoho offer a great, free, email service. If you like the idea of G-Suite and Office 365, but don't need the extra features and want to keep your costs down, then this is the one for you. Zoho offer a Free package which includes domain based emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) for up to 25 inboxes. You get less storage per inbox than the other options, but 5GB/user is still a very healthy amount when you consider that it is free! Zoho offer a fantastic web based interface for their email system (which also includes messaging for teams) and free email apps for your devices to make setup a breeze. We have set up Zoho mail for a number of our clients who have all been extremely happy with the services that they offer.
* Disclaimer. The links on this page to G-Suite are affiliate links, which means that we get paid a little bit of commission if you follow the link and sign up for an account.
Cloudwards.net have written a comprehensive comparison of the big email providers and have included some that we have not written about here.
4. You don't need that many inboxes!
A lot of clients will ask for a range of email accounts to be created, such email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. This means you can end up with lots of different accounts to keep on top of, making the job a lot harder.
If you are a small business, we recommend that you set up email aliases. This means that you can have multiple email addresses all going into one inbox and you can actually choose who you want to send your email from, so your customer will see which email address you want them to see. No more sending from the wrong account.
For larger companies with multiple staff, you can set up email groups. This means that multiple staff members can all access the same emails without having to deal with a completely separate inbox. Maybe you use firstname.lastname@example.org but have 5 team members who need to check that address, well now you can. The great thing about this is that if you are using any of the services we recommend above, you won't be charged extra for the groups!
5. Use a help desk support system
If you are a service based industry who receive support requests from your customers, why not set up a help desk system. To put it simply, you can reroute all of your emails from a specific address into this system and it help your to track your support requests. No more losing a support request because it has been buried in your personal inbox. This also means you can have multiple members of your support team all working through your support tickets, marking them off when they are complete. We use Help Scout for our support request here at Perspective Design, although there are many alternatives available.
6. Find a better email client for your computer
A lot of people stick with the email applications that came preinstalled on their computer. This is often because it is familiar, or because they are scared to change it and mess something up. This means that we have clients that are still using outdate software such Microsoft Outlook Express. If you've not looked at the options recently you would be amazed at some of the features they offer. This is not a review of email software, but here are a few that we use regularly; Airmail for Mac, Spark for iPad, Outlook for mobile devices, Gmail for android devices and Mozilla Thunderbird.
Here are some features we love about our email apps (you'll need to take a look for your self to decide which one is right for you).
- Snooze your emails, so it will remind you later
- Disable notifications at certain times of day
- Scheduled sending - Working late in the evening but want your client to see it in the morning. Well now you can!
- Advanced searching
- Create email templates for common replies to save time
- Quick replies
Are you ready to make your email work for you? Why not move your existing emails over to Google G-suite, Microsoft Office 365 or Zoho Mail. If you don't know where to start, drop us a line and we would be happy to provide you with a quote.
Perspective Design also offers a range of Website Care Plans to help your business to be the best it can be.