So many of us in the small business community rely on Gmail as our default email provider, and with good reason! We use Google because it comes at a price point we love (often free) and it integrates with other applications that we use on a daily basis – like our calendar and To Do list. If you’re a small business using Gmail to manage your email and your customer relations, why not make sure you’re getting the most out of it that you can?
To help you do just that, below are seven tips for how to use Gmail smarter. Because if you think Gmail is great on its own, you don’t even want to know how powerful it is once you supercharge it.
1. Get a Gmail account at your own domain with Google Apps: Just because you like the simplicity of relying on Google for email doesn’t mean you want @gmail.com to append your email address. You know that customers will trust your business more if they see you have a branded email account connected to your business. They’re looking for that firstname.lastname@example.org in order to trust your business and that you’re a “real” company. And you don’t have to sacrifice this important authority metric just to use Google. You just have to become a Google Apps users. For five dollars (per email address) a month, small business owners can become a Google Apps users andCanned Responses comes into play. By turning on Canned Responses it gives you the ability to write your message once, save it, and then use it based off certain keywords in your message.
2. Juggle multiple email accounts from one interface: You probably don’t have just one email address. Most of us practically collect email addresses. There’s our personal email, our work email (email@example.com), the generic company email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and other email addresses we use for other purposes. But just because you have five different emails doesn’t mean you have the time to be logging in and out of accounts all day. By setting up Mail Fetcher in Gmail, you can download messages from up to five other accounts in one interface to help you centralize all of your email. This way you’re spending your time answering it instead of trying to access it.
3. Use Labels: SMBs can use labels to help organize their inbox and keep them on task. To create a label, select the message you want the label to apply to, hit the Label button in the toolbar (it looks like a tag), and then choose Create New. Once your label is created, you’ll be able to apply it to different messages in your inbox or even nest it under a broader category. This is really helpful in organizing your inbox. You can even then create filters to have certain messages removed from your inbox until you have the time to deal with them.
4. Use Boomerang: Boomerang is a Gmail plugin that lets you take back control of your inbox by giving you the ability to write emails now and schedule them to go out later. Want to respond to an email to get it off your plate but don’t want to have to respond when the other person tennis balls it back to you? Schedule it to go out in an hour. Or at the end of the day. Or perhaps you can’t sleep and you’re answering email at 4am. You don’t have to alert your business contacts to your raging insomnia. Write it now and then schedule it to go out at 8am when the rest of the world is awake. You can also use Boomerang to remind you to check up on people who haven’t gotten back to you or use it for link building.
5. Answer faster with canned responses: Take a look at your email right now. How many emails are waiting for you to write the same answer to the same question over and over again? If you’re like most small business owners, probably a lot. And that’s where Google’s Canned Responses comes into play. By turning on Canned Responses it gives you the ability to write your message once, save it, and then use it based off certain keywords in your message.
6. Reply by chat or video: Or why answer the email with another email at all? End the cycle and take advantage of Google’s option to reply by chat or by video.
7. Mute emails: For emails not sent directly to you (for example, if you’re part of an email group or listserv) you can mute emails that you wish not to see. Perhaps there’s an email discussion going around that you’re no longer interested in or people are all leaving their thoughts on a topic that doesn’t involve your business, by using the shortcut M, you can actually mute the thread to hide the emails so you don’t have to deal with them. It’s like magic.
Those are some ways that I supercharge Gmail to work better. What works for you?