As companies grow, so do their inboxes. Those who aren’t equipped to cope with the rising tide of email can quickly find their productivity swamped.
It’s no secret that email has become a giant problem for businesses. The average employee spends 13 hours a week responding to email. It consumes 28 percent of our workday—more than any other task. What’s worse, more than half of the emails we sift through each day are simply a waste of our time.
Yet eliminating email entirely isn’t an option for most organizations. As companies conduct more and more business online, email has become an increasingly important channel for getting work done. The digital marketing firm Ampush, for example, uses email for more than 80 percent of its business interactions. When its staff expanded by 500 percent within two years, the email volume skyrocketed. To ease the pressure, the firm needed a way to weed out the trivial messages so employees could focus on the important ones. Ampush found the answer, and it was a game-changer.
Many companies are turning to email productivity software for help managing the flood. Leaders at Ampush report they’ve been able to reclaim as much as an hour of productive time each day. If regaining five hours a week isn’t enticing enough by itself, here’s a look at the top reasons business leaders utilize email management tools in the workplace.
1. You receive too much junk mail
Less than 38 percent of emails in the average inbox are actually important and relevant. The rest is just noise. Unwanted emails cost businesses $20.5 billion annually in lost productivity and technical expenses. Companies spend an estimated $1,250 per employee on spam and another $1,800 on other unnecessary emails every year. By those statistics, email software that can effectively screen out unimportant emails will ultimately pay for itself many times over.
While most email clients now have fairly accurate build-in spam filters, they can still be unreliable and only serve to cut out legitimate spam. This does little to nothing to cut out what has become the bigger burden: bacn. Bacn consists of emails a person has opted into and might want to read, but not right now. Some common examples include newsletters, social notifications, bill payment reminders, and promotional emails from the stores and ecommerce sites. Are them spam? No. Are they distracting? Absolutely, and each one that creeps into your inbox forces you to spend time and focus on it.
This is where a more intelligent email filters comes into play — these filters know that neither bacn nor spam belongs in the inbox, so the messages are filtered out. This can be accomplished in different ways. Inbox by Gmail seeks to group or “bundle” emails thematically, for instance by putting purchases and trips in their own tab. SaneBox uses an algorithmic approach, taking into consideration which incoming emails are actually opened, which are responded to, how quickly, how often, and so on. Important incoming messages are put in the inbox, while the noise is put into a folder for later and summarized in a daily digest.
2. You routinely need to follow up on emails
Business communications account for more than half of all emails sent and received each year. Today, many companies conduct the majority of their communications through email. As a result, failure to receive a timely response to an email can hamper efficiency and in some cases bring projects to a screeching halt. Just how bad are people at responding to incoming emails? When we analyzed our internal data in mid-2015, we found that just 6 to 7 percent of users’ outgoing emails are responded to within 24 hours.
The problem is that when you’re dealing with a high volume of email, it can be difficult to keep track of which ones you’re awaiting responses to. Fortunately, with the number of plugins, extensions, and cloud-based softwares offering follow-up reminder assistance, the days of sticky notes and calendar entries are behind us. Newer tools enable you to quickly and easily set alerts that will remind you to follow up on emails if you haven’t heard back by a certain date or time. This is generally done when you send a message by selecting a time and date that you need a response by. If you haven’t heard back when that time rolls around, then the outgoing email pops back into your inbox, giving you context and allowing you to quickly ping the person you haven’t heard back from.
3. You use your email as a to-do list, but have difficulty prioritizing it
After years of research and talking to top productivity experts, we’ve found that the most efficient way to clear your inbox is to sort your emails into three different buckets. Unimportant, non-urgent emails like bacn should be archived or deleted in bulk. Important, urgent emails should be prioritized and acted upon first. But what about that third bucket—emails that are important but not urgent?
A lot of people leave these emails in their inbox so they don’t forget about them. Doing this creates an ever-growing to-do list that can’t be easily prioritized and only serves to distract and overwhelm you. This is where deferring, or “snoozing,” emails comes into play. Using an email productivity tool to snooze emails gets them out of your inbox until you need them, at which point they return to your inbox in a similar way to the reminders mentioned above. For instance, if a colleague emails you requesting an update by Friday at the end of the day, you can snooze that email until Friday morning. This method of deferring email keeps your inbox clear of distractions without losing important items in the shuffle.
4. You’re subscribed to too many mailing lists
Valid email addresses are worth a fortune to legitimate companies and spammers alike, and there are innumerable ways to end up on someone’s mailing list. Making a single online purchase often opens the door to a flood of marketing emails. Once you become a customer, many companies will begin sending multiple emails a day that quickly overtake your inbox.
Moreover, while marketers are legally required to provide a way to unsubscribe from their lists, they don’t always make it easy. Beyond that, spammers have become incredibly good at mimicking real companies’ real email templates, and do this in order to find out which email addresses are valid. How? By blasting off sends to millions of addresses, then tracking and list building based on who used the unsubscribe link. This seemingly harmless action on your end tells the person on the other side that your email account is real and active.
Fortunately, tools like Unroll.me and SaneBlackHole allow you to quickly and safely unsubscribe from such emails, both real and fake. SaneBlackHole can help you go a step further by blocking individual senders who find your email address and send you never-ending cold emails from their personal email account.
5. You receive or send a lot of attachments
Sending and receiving large files through email takes a toll on your inbox as well as your productivity. Large email attachments fill up your storage quota, are often incorrectly flagged as spam, and can take a long time to download or forward, especially on a mobile device. What’s more, they’re hard to find when you need them.
To avoid clogging up your email account, look for a tool like Feingeist’s CargoLifter or SaneAttachments, which scan your emails for attachments and automatically transfer them to your Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, or other cloud storage account. Instead of an unwieldy attachment, you’ll simply receive a link to the file.
With just these five features, effective email productivity software can save employees hours every week, and some email management tools even offer a combination or all five of these features. Not only can it help boost the bottom line, but it allows growing companies to reap the benefits of success without struggling under the weight of too many emails.
Remember when email used to make your job easier, not harder? SaneBox gets you and your inbox back to a Zen-like state with smart, personalized, trainable inbox filtering and a comprehensive suite of email features. See why people are calling SaneBox “the best thing that’s happened to email since email’s invention” by starting your 100% free trial today »