Many workers face e-mail overload in their company inboxes. The number of business e-mail will most likely reach more than 6 billion gigabytes this year, which is double the amount of e-mail sent in 2005, according to IDC, the global market intelligence firm. How do you go about sorting through the endless messages?
Bobbie Gossage, associate editor of Inc. magazine, suggests trying an e-mail add-on program to help organize your inbox. Download e-mail plug-ins from the Web; they all work with Outlook 2003 or 2007. Employees will receive assistance such as sorting through e-mail, arranging contacts or creating e-mail templates. Gossage has a list of effective programs for organizing company inboxes:
Xobni, which started in public beta this past May, helps workers by organizing their contacts. The plug-in arranges your e-mail from different associates, according to Gossage. When you search for a person’s name, a chart tracks the number of sent and received e-mail, recent messages and files relating to the specific contact. Put a profile picture with each sender to remember a face. Xobni provides a faster search function than Outlook and is available for free at www.xobni.com.
ClearContext assists with e-mail organization through color coding. Tasks, appointments and e-mail are color coded according to the subject and how often you communicate with the contact, according to Gossage. Do you sometimes forget to answer e-mail in a timely manner? This plug-in, which is still in private beta and available to the public for about $90, reminds you to answer messages from important senders. For more information, visit www.clearcontext.com.
Search through e-mail at a fast pace with Lookeen. This search function calculates the amount of time to locate an e-mail. Launched last June, this new program costs about $40 to download at www.lookeen.net.
YouSendIt, which has been around since 2004, can eliminate large file attachments that can cause your inbox to crash. Send your contact a link in order to download the file, according to Gossage. Try this Outlook plug-in for a two-week free trial at www.yousendit.com.
Sperry Software can save you from sending a private message to the whole company. When you click the reply-to-all button, an alert box pops up asking if you really want to reply to all senders before hitting the send button, according to Gossage. Or the function called “attachment forget me not” reminds you that an attachment has not been made. For more information on downloads and prices, visit www.sperrysoftware.com.
Do you tend to send the same e-mail to multiple contacts? Email Templates can help save time. Design personalized messages that are accessible from a pull-down menu in Outlook. The program creates a template that can be used many times. Gossage says the download is available for free, but the better version with more features costs approximately $100 at www.emailtemplates.com.
“Managing the amount of incoming e-mails is a growing problem,” says Gossage. “This is probably why new companies have popped up to help manage e-mail accounts.”
Six Rules for Using Technology in Your Business
• Spend money on technology as an investment, not as a cost. Spend money on technology that will help you now and in the future.
• E-mail is not CRM. When a customer buys from you, chats with your sales rep and maybe returns a product, for whatever reason, a true customer relationship management product can help you mine this raw data and use it to know more about your customer.
• Web 2.0 is no joke. It’s more than you giving content or a sales pitch to someone — a one-way conversation. It’s about having a conversation with customers and letting customers have a conversation with each other — all about you and your product or service.
• Mobile technology empowers. You should not have to tell customers you didn’t get their fax or voice mail because you were out of the office. Take your office with you by leveraging mobile technology.
• Outsource your technology. You are an expert in what you sell, but you are not an expert in network security, data backup or mobile technology.
• Don’t technologize a bad business process. If there are parts of your business that are not going so well and you think technology is the answer, you’re wrong.