After the accident two months ago that left me with a concussion, the doctors prescribed “complete brain rest,” which apparently involves lying in bed staring at the ceiling. As you might imagine, I’ve not done that so well…lying around doing nothing sounds fabulous until you are forced to do it! But the last few days, I’ve found myself on “brain rest” as I’ve laid in bed at night, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling. It’s a more recent symptom of the rather ambiguous, and disruptive, post-concussion syndrome that I’m still dealing with. And to be real, it can’t possibly have been complete brain rest, as my brain would not stop thinking. As it turns out though, it’s great for new ideas, and that’s where I realized that you could benefit from this too!
As I was lying there unable to sleep, I was thinking about how I welcome new people who sign up for the BizFarmer VIP list. The very first email I send to welcome new VIPs has an excellent open rate. But when it comes to the weekly blog post I share with you, my email open rates are just average.
And being the over-achiever that I am, I don’t like to settle for average.
There are a number of factors no doubt, but two immediately come to mind.
The first is Gmail. Thanks to their lovely algorithm that tries to manage your inbox for you, they often put email subscriptions into your promotions folder. I know for a fact that this happens to my emails, because even close friends who are also my VIPs have said, “I’ve not seen anything from you lately!” In reality, my email is getting put in their promotions folder…that they don’t ever look at.
But the other piece of it is that these days we get a LOT of emails. It’s easy for your inbox to fill up to the tippy-top with an assortment of mail…which makes it easy for you to waste a lot of time sifting through mail, and to miss out on the emails that you actually wanted to read.
Yet I never miss an email from someone I want to read. I know exactly what’s coming through my email.
Last night I realized that my type-A obsessively organized trait has spilled over into the way I manage my email.
And there’s one simple thing that I do that will save you from hours of browsing email.
And as a side benefit, it’ll help you read the emails that you want to read, when you want to read them, too!
There are three steps to this:
- Create a TON of folders in your inbox.
- Set up rules to automatically direct emails to a specific folder.
- Review the folders periodically, on a schedule that you intentionally create.
When I first started BizFarmer and was learning all about online business, social media, email marketing and the like, I subscribed to a number of email lists. At one point I was following over 20 people.
I also sign up for special offers from my favorite brands, like Under Armour, Children’s Place, Pure Wow, and many others. And as you know, while some online entrepreneurs send a lot of email, brands send even more!
That’s a LOT of email to sort through every day.
So I created folders. I created one folder for all of the promotional offers from any brand or company that I shop at – such as Under Armour, and the others I mention above. ONE folder, that’s it. I called it “Online Shopping.”
I took two approaches for the leaders and experts I was following. I created an individual folder for each of my favorites – the ones I never want to miss, like Michael Hyatt or Amy Porterfield. For those that I want to simply read occasionally, I created one catch-all folder that I called “People I Follow.”
As my business has grown, I’ve also created folders for emails from the providers I use – such as AWeber, Nozbe, WPCurve and the like.
And I created folders for the various programs or courses I’ve purchased, so that the emails for those courses are separate from that expert’s blog posts or newsletters.
It’s all about being intentional with my time and being certain that I’m focused on what matters most.
Once the folders are in place, you start to create rules to send the email to the appropriate folder. This can take some time, but is crucial to the success of this strategy. Set it up so that emails from “x” go to “x’s” folder.
You might also consider having your email provider delete emails that are over a certain number of days old – such as over ten days. Or, only keeping the most recent email from that sender. (Note: These two are rules that I apply on my online shopping folder, but not on the folders for leaders/experts that I follow.)
CREATE A SCHEDULE
Now that you have emails automatically going to specific folders, your inbox should be a lot less cluttered on a daily basis. But you do need to make a plan to review the emails in the other folders. There are a few ways that I do this.
I rarely read the emails in my Online Shopping folder. The only time I check that folder is if I’m looking for a coupon from a specific company. On rare occasion, if I’m shopping – for Christmas, for example – I might browse that folder to find some good deals. But usually, I know what I want to buy and then find a promotional offer to get that item for less money.
(Bonus! This strategy saves you time AND money because you’re not getting hooked by the latest and greatest “deal.”)
I check my “People I Follow” folder infrequently, maybe twice a month. These are entrepreneurs that I want to hear from but it’s not a big deal if I’m not up to speed on their latest email.
For my favorite experts and leaders like Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield, because they have their own folder, I immediately see when there’s a new email. The folder shows the number of unread emails in there so as that number grows, I know I’m missing out on something.
That’s it. One simple trick that will save you hours of managing email.
To help you with this further, I created a quick worksheet that gives you a visual example of how I’ve organized my email folders. Click Here For Your Worksheet
TWO LAST THOUGHTS
On behalf of all email marketers everywhere, please remember these two things: if you don’t want to read my emails, please don’t ignore them. Just unsubscribe. It won’t hurt my feelings or anyone else’s (if it does, they don’t understand the concept of finding your ideal customer and only serving those who actually want what you have to offer!) And lastly. Never tag an email as “spam” or “junk” when YOU signed up for it. That unfairly penalizes the sender and hey – you signed up for it! (Now, if you’ve tried to unsubscribe and they just won’t quit, then by all means, report them as spam every time!)
To more quality time and less quantity time in your inbox…
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