Tragically, if you’re like me, we live in a world where your average daily email volume exceeds the grand total of all the handwritten letters you’ve ever received.
That may be slightly exaggerated, but you get the point: email is hard to keep up with.
Email volume is growing, attention spans are shrinking, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to effectively manage your email.
For me, properly managing my emails simply translates into:
There are countless techniques for email management, but in this post, I want to focus on the filter technique and 9 specific inbox filters that you may want to adopt, especially if you work in marketing.
An inbox filter is just a rule that you impose on the emails in your inbox.
A filter is an if-then configuration — e.g. if a message comes from X, mark it as important, and put it in folder Y.
Every email application is a little bit different, but almost every single one supports filters. At GuavaBox, we use Google Apps, so I live in the Gmail interface. If you use Outlook, Mac Mail, or something else, a quick search can help you figure out the best way to configure your filters.
The first set of rules I set up are focused on filtering the important stuff to make sure that I see it. The “important stuff” includes personal emails, client emails, team emails, financial emails, and emails from leads or prospects.
I also combine filters with a folder system to stay on top of my mail. Let’s dive in and I’ll show you how it works:
Sure, it would be ideal to use separate emails for personal and work stuff, but a lot of friends and family members send personal emails to my work address. For the common ones (parents, my wife, and close friends), my filter looks like this:
Another side note: I’m coaching high school baseball, and I’ve coached high school lacrosse, served on community boards, and been involved with ministries and in church. For the cases where I haven’t had a separate email address, I set up filters for these emails as well. I make sure they hit my inbox, but get automatically labeled to take one step out of the tracking process in case I need to dig these up at some point.
Part of my personal workflow when we add a new client is to add or edit my inbox filter for the client contacts.
We primarily rely on HipChat for internal communication. It’s one of our 7 core business tools – grab the full list here . That said, we still send emails here and there. I filter those similar to my client rules:
Until recently, I handled a lot of bookkeeping and finance work for both GuavaBox and DoInbound. Because of that, I received a ton of finance-related emails that were important, but rarely required action.
Side Note: if you’re an agency struggling with your invoicing/accounting processes, tools, or follow-through, I’m putting together a bunch of resources on this right now (sign up for early access here).
This is similar to the filters we’ve already covered. Based on what action I might have to take and what types of emails each vendors send, I pick a filter to weed through and bring the important stuff to my attention.
Response time is very important in today’s high-paced sales environment.
As an agency owner, I’m involved in a number of sales conversations. It’s important to showcase the kind of responsiveness during the sales process that a prospect can expect when they become a client.
A GuavaBox client should never wait 8 hours for a service response, so why would one of our leads?
Most folks get tons of notification emails from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. I set up filters to send most of my notifications directly to folders. That way, the notification is archived appropriately, should I ever need it, but it doesn’t steal my attention from the important inbox items.
I’m on too many email lists to count. Big companies, small shops, single products, thought leaders… at this point, I’ve subscribed to them all.
Even though I’ve subscribed, I still don’t want all these emails in my inbox. Here’s how I get around that:
We use a number of forms for leads, clients, vendors, and team members. Some forms indicate the status of the person submitting the form, and most form submissions require some type of action.
Some quick examples:
I’ve got filters in my inbox that help me determine my action steps based on the forms that are submitted.
There are a lot of places where filters come in handy, but for dealing with email newsletters and brand subscriptions, you may also want to consider using a tool like Unroll.me.
This allows you to easily unsubscribe from emails, or add all the marketing emails that you’d like to batch review, to a single, daily rollup email.
I currently have 709 subscriptions on my rollup, which translates to an average daily rollup including between 100 – 200 daily emails. Instead of clicking buttons to open, archive, or delete, I click on the single email, review the subject lines, and wind up taking action on (guestimating here) about 5% of the emails in my rollup.
Unroll.me saves me a ton of time every day, plus I don’t have the distraction of seeing those emails hit my inbox, and going to look at what I just received.
If you’ve read this far, odds are that you care about productivity.
For that reason, I’m giving away a free downloadable PDF of the 7 Core Business Tools that we use at GuavaBox. These are the most important tools in our day-to-day operations, and 5 of them have freemium models.
My partner, Andrew, developed this awesome B2B Marketing Checklist that we’re giving away to help you do more and better marketing. Click the download button below to grab your copy!