The common misconception held about email is that it’s dead or, at the very least, dying. And why not? Marketers can now use a host of platforms and tools to reach out and connect with their target audience.
I got news for you: email is not dead. In fact, it’s the third most influential medium of information today across various industries.
It also remains among the top forms of online communication channels used today. It’s projected that by the year 2020, approximately 3 billion people will be using email. That’s practically half of the world’s population!
Email Marketing: A Potential Time Sucker?
There’s an old saying: “too much of a good thing is bad.”
Ideally, you should only be spending between two and five hours each week on emails. That way, you have more than enough time to attend to other tasks.
So why is it that people spend too much time on emails at work? Well, there are a number of factors in play here. Here are some of them.
It Takes Time to Recover
Did you know that each time you answer an email alert that pops up on your computer, it takes 64 seconds for you to return to your original task? This was what the Danwood Group discovered when they did a study on email interruptions.
The reason? According to Matthew MacKinnon, a psychiatric physician from the University of Washington, we aren’t wired to multitask. Rather, they only are capable of focusing on one thing at the time.
Other studies support MacKinnon’s position that multitasking is a myth. The result of these studies shows that each time you try to multitask, what really happens is that your brain “turns off” its attention on what you’re doing. It then adjusts so that you can do the new task (in this case, check an email alert). When you’re through, it does the exact same process as you resume working on the task you were doing before the email alert.
The same thing happens as you go through one email after another. As you read through each email, your brain has to process the information here. It’s this information that will help you decide what action to take.
While all of these tasks only take your brain milliseconds to do, these quickly add up. Before you know it, those milliseconds have already turned into hours.
Bosses Use Emails
86% of people use emails for business communication. This is not just for email marketing. Bosses and colleagues prefer to use emails to send files, instructions, and other pieces of information to you. The same thing is true with clients.
The problem here arises when the emails are coming in too frequently. While you may be able to manage setting aside emails from colleagues, it’s a different story when you get an email coming from your boss or client. It practically compels you to respond almost immediately, regardless of what you’re doing.
What makes this even more “dangerous” is if your boss or client requests you to attend to something other than what you’re currently doing. Let’s face it: it’s hard to say “no” to a boss or a client, so you end up leaving the task you were doing unfinished to work on a brand new one. Keep this up, and you’ll end up at the end of the day not finishing anything at all.
It’s Their Job
You may think: “I’m in marketing. Of course, I have to spend lots of time on emails.”
The truth is, even if you’ve been assigned to handle the email marketing for your company, sending and replying to emails is only one of your tasks. You also need to do maintain and manage your email list, do split-testing, and review analytics to check on the performance of each email sent out.
Information Overload Can be Stressful
According to Radicati, the average employee today receives close to 230 emails per day. About 140 of these (60.87%) are business-related emails. That’s a 6% growth from 2017!
Getting that kind of volume of emails in your inbox won’t just eat your storage space but can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
One study conducted by Future Work Centre confirmed this. Dr. Richard MacKinnon, the study’s lead author, said that although email is an indispensable business tool, it’s also one of the contributors to work-related stress. And as we know, stress can negatively affect work performance, ranging from frequent sick leaves to getting burned out and depressed.
Recognition has been found to increase individual employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty to the company. When employees are recognized for a job well done, it motivates them, provides them with a sense of accomplishment, and makes them feel valued for their hard work.
Emailing Habits to Become More Productive
When these negative factors come into play, you end up developing bad emailing habits that affect your overall work productivity.
The good thing about habits is that you can always change them by replacing them with new emailing habits. The best part about this is that you can start them by making a few simple changes.
1. Get an Old–Fashioned Alarm Clock
If you’re one of the 85% of people that use smartphones for an alarm clock, stop!
Aside from the temptation to hit the snooze button, you’ll find your lock screen flooded with notifications. Since 81% of people today check their emails on their phones, there’s a pretty good chance you got email notifications in there as well.
Checking your emails first thing in the morning can increase levels of anxiety, making you feel overwhelmed. It can also cause that to-do list you’ve written up the night before out the window, especially if the emails sound urgent (which is often the case).
Switching to using an alarm clock removes the temptation for you to take a peek at your email while you’re still in your jammies. That way, you give yourself time for yourself and your family in the morning right before going to work.
2. Create a Do–Not–Do List
Manoj Ramnani, Founder of SalesIntel, points out that having a list of things that you shouldn’t do at work is just as important, if not more important, in helping you avoid spending too much time on email.
“Just as we need a to-do list to help you keep track of the things you want to accomplish, a ‘do-not-do’ list serves as a guide on the things that you need to stay away from if you want to get things done,” he explains. “You also get the same feeling of accomplishment when you’re able to check this off from your list.”
3. Separate Your Work From Personal
Several email platforms like Gmail now make it possible for you to add your work email here. While this makes receiving and sending emails more convenient, it could cost you your ability to respond to important work-related emails.
For starters, it could be very easy to miss emails from work since these can be buried underneath all of your personal emails. This dangerous concoction also opens the door for you to get distracted from your work as you go through one email after another.
4. Track Your Time When Doing Emails
Another way to make sure that you don’t spend too much time doing emails is to time yourself.
For this, I recommend following the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time wisely. It’s a productivity method that breaks up your work time into 25-minute blocks called pomodoros. During each Pomodoro, you’ll be doing deep, uninterrupted work. In this case, it’s sending or responding to work-related emails. After each Pomodoro, give yourself a five-minute breather. You’ll be surprised at how much work you can accomplish with this.
5. Know Your Busiest Email Days
Studies show that Tuesday through Thursday are the days when the most emails are sent.
However, not all companies observe this trend in their email volumes. Some companies I’ve worked with consider Monday as the day they receive the heaviest volume of emails. Others say it’s the weekend when this happens.
That said, it’s crucial that you know what day and time do you receive the most emails as well as when your emails get the most opens and click-throughs. That way, you can schedule your email marketing tasks accordingly to get optimum results.
The best way for you to find out is by running a test following these steps:
Set Your KPI
As with any test, you’ll need to determine what specific metrics you will monitor.
Far too often, marketers make the mistake of setting the wrong metrics from the very start. So they end up misplacing their time and effort.
When choosing your email marketing KPIs, make sure that it’s closely tied to your overall marketing goals for the year. That way, you can quickly make the necessary adjustments if you’re not hitting your goals.
For example, if one of your goals is to increase online sales, then you’ll need to choose metrics that will show you this. Some of the key metrics you can use to monitor your progress include:
- Overall blog visits
- Traffic sources, specifically from emails
- Unique visitors
- Lead source breakdown
Schedule the Emails
Once you’ve determined the exact metric you’ll monitor, the next step is to send out a series of emails on different days and times. Here’s an example schedule you can follow:
Review the Analytics
Once you’ve sent out these emails, run an analytics report based on the metric you’ve selected.
You can use EmailAnalytics to monitor the response to the emails you’ve sent. As its name suggests, it provides you with a report based on real-time analytics on the emails you’ve sent out and received based on the day and time.
6. Use Templates
Templates are a huge time-saver when doing email marketing because you don’t have to keep on typing the same email over and over. You can develop automated emails around the most common questions you receive to increase your productivity.
7. Have an Alternative Platform for Team Communication
Instead of communicating with your team using email, why not migrate this to a different platform altogether?
Project management platforms like Asana are good options to consider. They allow you to do all the things that you’d normally do on emails like file sharing and sending feedback and status updates. At the same time, it allows you to segregate everything into projects.
That way, you don’t waste time trying to find the files you need or tracking down the progress of the conversation with your team. It integrates very well with HubSpot to create tasks for each new HubSpot form submission or CRM contact, which is extremely helpful if your team is using their CRM for email outreach.
8. Go on an After-6 Email Diet
I have to admit that of these different ways to become more productive with email, this was the most difficult for me to practice. That’s because just like a weight loss diet program, this method means that you don’t consume any email after 6:00 PM. With email so easily accessible on your phone, tablet or laptop, it can sometimes require a lot of willpower to resist taking a peek.
Going on an email fast gives you permission to have a life outside the office and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Don’t worry, your emails will still be there the next day. Habits are not formed overnight – you have to be patient. Start off by choosing one of the ones I mentioned here and practice this until it becomes second nature to you.
Despite all the different ways to connect with your company’s target audience, there’ll always be a place for email. By itself, it’s neither good or bad. It’s how you use it that makes all the difference. Practicing these different habits can help you not only make the most of your email marketing campaigns but accomplish other tasks as well.
Which of the ways I mentioned here will you start working on today? Share it in the comments below.Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.