If you are like me, keeping up with your inbox takes a pretty big bite out of the day - but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here are a few tips I've found over the years that help me manage the volume. Let's jump in...
#1 - Avoid the temptation to respond right away. Every now and then, I'll read an email that was sent to a group of people and have the temptation to jump in and respond right away. This is usually a bad idea if you know someone on your team can and will handle the follow up given the chance. Jumping in early and interjecting yourself on a multiple person thread not only creates more work for you, but it can also undermine the abilities of your team. My default on multi-person threads is to wait a bit to see if someone else jumps in before I interject myself. It saves me time, and it's a subtle show of confidence in my team.
#2 - Mute. It happens - we are all added to email chains just as an "FYI", even if the sender wasn't explicit about that. When a chain drags on, a Gmail feature called "Mute" can be your best friend. With one click of a button in Gmail (found under the "more" drop-down) I can archive these conversations for good and stop them from cluttering my inbox every time someone replies. (There are some third party add-ons that do something similar in Outlook.)
#3 - Filter. A fair number of the emails I get in a day are automated notifications. These messages are useful when you need them, but annoying when you don't. Gmail tried to fix this by separating out "updates" in my inbox, but they didn't quite nail it. To help manage these, I have a few simple filters set up in Gmail. When one of these messages come in, I have them set to "Skip the Inbox", get marked as read, and they are automatically categorized based on topic. That way, they never appear in my inbox, but are always searchable if I need them.
#4 - Know when your messages were opened or clicked. Ever wondered what it would be like to have some of the same features in your personal inbox that you have in your email marketing tool? A new free app we've been working on called Signals brings email open & click tracking to your personal inbox. Knowing when a message was opened or clicked is a confirmation to me that a topic, project, or email is moving forward. There are a hundred other ways this information can be useful- try it and you'll see.
#5 - Remember that your prospects are or will soon be doing the same things. Okay, I may be copping out a little bit on #5, but this is critically important to all of us in being productive as marketers. Just as fervently as we are all looking for solutions to cut through the noise, our prospects are too. When you think about the emails you send, are you sending something they'll be happy to see? Something that won't be muted, filtered, or marked as spam?
Related: 5 Secrets to Email Marketing Success