Watch out! I’m an “email destroyer” according to this fun and enlightening quiz by Hubspot.

In fact I’ll admit that I chuckled a little when I read my definition as someone with an “undeniable love for tools that help them email like a machine, they try to avoid sounding like one.” Sounds about right to me. What do you think?

But the deeper message in this little personality test is about email productivity, more importantly how you leverage tools to make emailing a ‘time multiplier’ rather than a ‘time drain’.

Rory Vaden, in his book Procrastinate on Purpose describes the most efficient people in the world as those who do tasks today that multiple their time tomorrow. In short, they’re time investors. While this may sound a little aloof it makes a bunch of sense. Below are some examples.

A time multiplier would:

  1. Take the time today to refine a process that made a daily/weekly task more efficient. One hour spent today may only save 5mins tomorrow, but after 12 times you’re saving time forever more.
  2. Invest a day or more to train another staff member in a task that you can take off your plate, allowing you to focus on bigger things.
  3. Learn a new tool that automates your business services, freeing up more time in the long run.

Now I just love teaching businesses how to use tools to automate parts of their business. In fact, as a general rule of thumb – if you do something more than a handful of times exactly the same way then it’s definitely worth investing the time to find a way to automate it.

Here are three things that I think every regional business owner should do in relation to their emailing.

Batch your emails

I read recently that the average employee checks their email 36 times a day, that’s about once every 13mins. Would you agree that a if you’re a business owner with email on your mobile phone that this amount is even higher! Of course.

Getting your head into emails (and then out again) takes time and a certain amount of mental inertia and this is a huge drain on your day. The solution (and I’m sure you’ve heard it before) is to batch your emails a couple of times a day. I do it the following way:

  • First thing in the morning I open my inbox. First up on my agenda is sending reminders to any people that I’m waiting on a response from. The earlier this comes through the quicker I can get that particular task progressed. I then skim my headlines and look for any emails that look business critical and attend to them. My mornings are reserved for my best thinking so I protect my time by only handling the most critical of these in this batch.
  • Just before lunch I open my inbox again. This is predominantly reserved for filing, printing and responding to administrative types of emails. The fact that much of our business is done online is a reality these days so this bit just needs to happen. I prefer to do this before lunch so that I can take a walk, get my head into gear and start my post-lunch session really productively.
  • At the end of the day I leave myself a half hour or so to respond to all those other emails that are sitting in my inbox. I know that if I leave it to the end I will just flick out replies that are brief and to the point. Voila.

Use pre-written responses

Remember when I said that if you do something more than a handful of times you should find a way to automate it? Pre-written responses, canned responses or saved replies (depending on which email client you use) are a great way of doing exactly this.

As I’m emailing people I often think to myself “I’ve sent an email like this before”. That’s my trigger to turn this into a canned response.

In Gmail it’s a matter of selecting your text and then a mere 3 clicks and I’ve saved that text into Gmail for use later on as a canned response. The next time I need to use it I can insert it easily into my email with just a couple of clicks.

Some of the types of canned responses I have in my inbox are:

  • A simple set of steps to list an event on an events calendar – click here, go there, type this… etc. I know the list is accurate every time when I use the canned response and I don’t need to waste time looking for the steps all over again.
  • An entire email to welcome new businesses to a local Chamber membership site. It includes links, step-by-step instructions and a bunch more info. It’s such a relief to just click and insert all that text without needing to think too much about it.
  • Replies to commonly asked questions. In fact, I often add several canned responses to the one email (people often ask more than one question of me at the same time too).

If your email client doesn’t natively handle canned responses than just think about copying text into a Word document, notebook or something else handy. The point is that once it’s saved and can be copied into your email you don’t need to worry about it again.

Leverage an Email Marketing Service Provider like Mailchimp

Email Marketing Service Providers (ESP) do one thing really well, and that’s managing your email database. Your email client (Gmail, Outlook, etc) is a great way of corresponding one-to-one, but to really leverage your time you can also be corresponding one-to-many. That’s where your database comes in.

There’s lots of different ESPs that you can use. I happen to have accounts with Ontraport, Get Response, Campaign Monitor and Mailchimp but there’s lots of others out there too – some big and some small.

A well set  up ESP can do the following things for you without you needing to lift a finger:

  1. Automatically add people to your database, often via some kind of subscription form or lead magnet (that’s a fancy word for a great free resource that you’ll give people in exchange for their email address… trust me you’ve seen them everywhere).
  2. Filter your database depending on certain actions, tags, or events. In short you can start building a picture about each of the people in your database on their buying habits, interests, relevance, etc.
  3. Automatically send them a series of emails on your behalf that build trust in your business and provide the opportunity to purchase products or services through you.
  4. Allow you to send regular updates to your entire database at once (or particular segments of). This could be a monthly newsletter, or a quick memo to everyone who had recently bought a particular product. Even better is the ability to pre-write these and schedule them to send them out at the ideal time for your audience.
  5. Fit into your existing database management software for seamless integration.

Sure, there’s a bit to set up for all this to work seamlessly but it’s worth it in the end.

What email service provider should you use? I often suggest Mailchimp because it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers and is fairly simple to use, but if you want to talk to me about the best ESP for your particular situation then don’t hesitate to contact me.

So there’s just three ways that you can become an email ninja like me.

But over to you… what’s your email personality? Take the quiz and pop your results in the comments below!