EmailTray Universal Smart Email Notifier

November 22, 2010

What Facebook Can Do to Win the New Email War vs Google

While both Google and Facebook can take the following advice on how to satisfy email users who want to reduce email overload, big company theory says that the requisite product manager for at least one of the companies will take off early for Thanksgiving, leaving his/her counterpart to design in the following necessary elements that email users will need to combat information overload going forward. I will present the elements as a mild critique of Facebook’s email announcement last week:

1) Facebook Email Needs a Smart Sorting Algorithm: Most of your priority email will not be trivial comments made by friends on Facebook walls. It will be from business people whom you specifically don’t connect with on Facebook. Nobody in the business world who connects on Facebook only with friends and family (100-200 connections) will see much benefit from having a universal Inbox that sorts mail from only their friends into a “Top Priority” folder.

To that end, EmailTray sorts emails based on a smart algorithm that looks at your past behavior towards senders, other EmailTray users behavior toward senders and whether a sender is in your Outlook address book or you were at a sender’s domain recently. Facebook needs a smart algorithm like this, not knowledge about whether a business email is coming from a family member or close friend (because it won’t be coming from either).

2) Facebook Email Needs a Notifier That Works When Browsers are Closed: EmailTray operates when browsers and Outlook are closed. Only Gmail has a notifier that also does this and we can be sure this Gmail notifier will soon be “smart” in that it will allow users to ask that only “Priority Inbox” mail be sent to the notifier for voice or pop-up alerts. EmailTray already has this and it sorts and alerts you on priority messages from all accounts, not just Gmail accounts.

3) Facebook Email Needs to Ensure Read and Deleted Messages are Marked Read and Deleted at Their Source: When someone reads and/or deletes an email in EmailTray, it will be marked read and/or deleted at its source (in Outlook, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail). This would be critical functionality for Facebook or Google to have in a messaging center. Without this, email users will not bother to process email from all their accounts in Facebook because they would still have to go back to Gmail or Outlook to REDELETE or mark AGAIN as read the same emails they already deleted or marked as read at Facebook. Facebook said nothing about being able to do this yesterday. They (and Google engineers) need to look at this because nobody will want to have to duplicate their efforts in processing email.

4) Facebook Email Needs to Authenticate Email (Anti-Phishing Functionality): Facebook has said nothing about authenticating email as having been actually sent from particular major senders like PayPal or Amazon or LinkedIn. EmailTray does this authentication and sends phishing attempts to the spam box with a warning to the user. This is critical because, for instance, 13% of emails that say they’re from Amazon are not really from Amazon.

Where Facebook has an advantage right now is that email users want to see social network photos with their incoming email. The popularity of xobni, Gist and our EmailTray program (formerly SenderOK) attest to the desire of email users to see who’s sending them messages and learn more about them (sometimes leading to the email user connecting with the email sender on Facebook).

Facebook also has an advantage over Gmail in that the idea of having 3 separate Inboxes is slightly better than the new Gmail Priority Inbox solution that can charitably be described as a 2 Inbox solution.

But, as noted in factor #1 above, neither company has invested in a seriously smart algorithm like the one we use at EmailTray (which has 4 Inboxes).

Smart Email Client

EmailTray Smart Email Notifier (Almost a new Email client)

Digg This

Click on the above Digg This link if you feel this post deserves to be read more widely. By the way: The instructions for loading Digg buttons on the bottom of WordPress blog posts are severely lacking in competence. Both Digg and WordPress need to get their act together in making it easy to add social media buttons like this.

Advertisements

February 3, 2010

Sort Email in Outlook – Triage on the Battlefield of Email Overload

Filed under: Email Deliverability,Email overload,Outlook,Social Networking — EmailTray @ 13:22

While many of us workaholic businesspeople tend to read our email via mobile all day and half the night, we still arrive at work in the morning to find dozens of bold-typed “unread” emails in our Outlook Inbox.

If you have a meeting at 09:00 and it is 08:50 now,  you are going to have to do some triage and it is not wise to do this all manually. You are going to want an educable smart agent to tell you what the priority emails are and sort those emails in Outlook and webmail.

This is where the the updated, Outlook-stable SenderOK plug-in from my company, Web CEO, comes in handy.

With SenderOK add-on in Outlook, just click on the virtual folder VIP first. Read the bold emails in this folder that you haven’t already read and dealt with via your mobile.

Then click on the Important Folder. Read the bold emails in this folder and deal with those you haven’t already dealt with via mobile. After that, briefly check your Routine Folder for emails from people that neither you nor anyone else using SenderOK has ever received an email from, and you can go into your 09:00 meeting without worrying so much that someone important is waiting for an immediate reply. Obviously, you still may have important messages to answer if responding to social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) messages and mentions counts as urgent and you have manually classified their email notifications as Routine (or the SenderOK database has decided that enough people classify those notifications as Routine to make them Routine for you by default until you manually define them otherwise).

SenderOK at first decides for itself, via a smart algorithm, which email senders are to be ranked VIP, Important and Routine. The algorithm takes into account your past behavior (such as answering back or deleting without reading) when receiving emails from specific senders. The algorithm also takes into account whether that sender has serious clout with other SenderOK users. An email from the real Bill Gates might go directly into your VIP folder without your ever having corresponded with him before.  As more people in your industry use SenderOK, the odds will climb that important industry people will have their emails prioritized for those using the SenderOK software.

You may manually classify plenty of email, including a lot of social media BACN, as “No Priority,” which make them lower in importance than even Routine. The manual reclassification function is very important because it is possible and even likely that some of your historical email processing activity has taken place via your mobile or a device that did not have SenderOK loaded on it…and the activity was, therefore, not processed via the smart algorithm that determines future priority status for any particular sender.

Email Sorting in Outlook

Sorting Email in Outlook

When new emails arrive in Outlook, the default that can be modified in “SenderOK Settings” will show a fading pop-up alert for VIP and Important emails along with a pleasant voice alert. This will allow you to work on other tasks all day long without worrying too much about checking your Inbox every ten minutes to see if the boss or the big client needs anything from you.

I tend to give personal family members VIP status along with the boss and important clients, but some would want to do the opposite.

Another major plus is the way SenderOK will save emails from important people that Outlook or webmail services classified as Spam and sent to the Spam Folder. Once in a blue moon SenderOK might save an email from the Spam Box that really was spam to you, but we can guarantee you that we will save enough really important emails from the Spam Box that you will never want to go without SenderOK again. Say, for example,  you register at a website and receive a confirmation email that you have to click on. Normally, such emails go straight to the Spam Box which is a pain in the neck. SenderOK always knows you were just at that domain and the email is Important. Very often this type of email is sent by automatically by Outlook to the Spam Box. SenderOK pulls it right out again and puts it to you front and center.

One of the more amazing functions of SenderOK is that we work with reputable senders to make sure their emails are not phished by others. Non-phished emails from those we include in this program will appear in the Inbox with their color icon where the Outlook envelope icon is normally visible.

Keep posted for a major update in the next few weeks that will further integrate the emails you receive with your social media network. Right now you can create a photo business card that other SenderOK users will see in their email header panes (Outlook, Gmail, !YahooMail and Live).

Allen MacCannell Email: A.MacCannell@SenderOK.com & Mobile: +380 93 031 6742

Share

Share this Post

November 19, 2009

Microsoft Outlook Social Connector to Compete with Google Buzz? What Will Competitors Do?

Filed under: Email overload,Gmail,Outlook,Social Networking,twitter — EmailTray @ 14:25

Disclaimer:  This post, originally written in November 2009, has been updated to note that Google Buzz has actually been released as of February 2010 where Google Wave remained in beta and Outlook 2010 is still in the future.

With the breaking news announcement by LinkedIn and Microsoft of the new Outlook Social Connector (OSC) functionality for Office 2010, few bloggers are noting (yet) that this *is* Microsoft’s possible answer to  Google Buzz.

Both OSC and Google Buzz are supposed to revolutionize the “Inbox” (after xobni and SenderOK pioneered the way) by providing photos, profile data and the message/attachment history of people who send you communications. Let’s take a look under the hood of what both the giants are proposing:

First of all, GoogleWave was a non-starter the way it was beta released. The GoogleWave Inbox does not receive Gmail Email destined for the Gmail Inbox. I can’t even send a normal Email to my Name@GoogleWave.com address. Why not? People only want to go to a few places per day to communicate with others. They now go to their Email Inbox and maybe their Twitter application and Facebook page on the web. Does Google expect them to go to another URL (GoogleWave.com) to do additional communicating with others? Waves are like forums. GoogleWave can kill the forum software industry and the need for people to buy domains to park their forums…but will GoogleWave become the first place people go when they turn on their machines? Not until waves share the Inbox with normal Email.

That is where Google Buzz comes in (this post said before today’s update “We’ll have to assume that GoogleWave and Gmail will be merged by the time Outlook 2010 becomes available in “early 2010”. The GoogleWave Inbox will have to accept normal Email. Waves themselves are great. But unless a merge happens, GoogleWave will just be a web portal to find and join fancy forums on subjects we search for).

Microsoft’s OSC will present Email with sender profiles with “rich history” in the Email header pane (like SenderOK now does – xobni does this via an extra “frame sidebar”). Microsoft will immediately get many of the world’s businesspeople as users (many of the 500 Million current Outlook users will upgrade to Office 2010). Users will apparently see Email sender profiles via APIs from social networks similar to what xobni and SenderOK now do for Outlook 2003/7  (currently SenderOK draws from its own social network “business card exchange”). OSC will not have the great xobni multiple PST search functionality nor will it have the excellent SenderOK Email priority sorting functionality. But xobni and SenderOK would both like to get the lion’s share of 500 million users overnight the way Microsoft will.

SenderOK Social Network Email Profile in the Outlook header pane

SenderOK Social Network Email Profile in the Outlook header pane

Who will win the “Social Email Fight” between Google and Microsoft? Well…Google business customers are already reading their Gmail hosted mail inside Outlook 2003 and 2007 (a major win for both Google and Microsoft). If Google wants to really win this, they will need to build an Email client that works offline (Gmail does this but Google has not made it obvious that they can do this).

Otherwise Microsoft *will* win the battle to keep Outlook as the first program businesspeople open on their computers in the morning.

What about Mozilla, AOL and Yahoo? If they don’t move fast, the upcoming OSC vs Google Buzz fight will trample them down (we deleted here a criticism of GoogleWave not being integrated with Gmail because Google Buzz has basically done that).

The competitors of Google and Microsoft may want to give us a call. SenderOK, unlike xobni, already has the technology that works with webmail and our plug-in now provides Yahoo, Gmail, Live and Outlook with photo business cards in the Email header pane.

What about international webmail portals like Web.de in Germany or Mail.ru in Russia? They’ll need to get this type of technology quickly as well. SenderOK is the only company that can provide them with this now.

Regarding social network executives, the Microsoft OSC announcement is a big boost for LinkedIn (who will be providing Microsoft’s first API feed, recognizing the identity of email senders by their email address if that is a registered LinkedIn address for that sender).

The future of social networking really *is* inside the Email client, even if the Email client is in a web browser. If you get a message from someone (and Email and SMS text messages are the dominant messaging form), then the photo and profile data that message associates itself with will become the main place for people to go to update their data. Fewer and fewer people will be heading for specific URLs on the web to communicate with contacts on some socnet site – and this includes Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter applications MUST merge with Email clients. The current separate situation is only temporary.

Final Note: Gmail will soon have anti-phishing icons, similar to what SenderOK does. Microsoft has not announced that they will have this helpful and potentially profitable functionality (corporations would pay to have their logos serve as anti-phishing icons = symbols of authenticated Email).

Share

Share this Post

July 29, 2009

Defining Spam Fairly in the Age of Responsible Email Marketing

Filed under: Email Deliverability,Email overload,Gmail,Outlook — EmailTray @ 15:43

Although some bloggers act as if Email spam is worse than ever (and may auto-reply even to their mother that she needs to get with the program and stop emailing) there has been a very encouraging trend in the past few years in that responsible corporations are conducting thoughtful email marketing campaigns with unsubscribe links and/or immediate removal of uninterested parties from their mailing lists.

On top of this, many corporations are using email deliverability services like SuretyMail where they have to pass a strict accreditation examination showing that they follow and will follow industry best practices in not approaching people regularly with their marketing message who have not asked to be approached.

But people still click the “This is Spam” button in various email programs for email newsletters and notifications that they had *asked* to be sent and which they can easily unsubscribe from.

This really isn’t fair to the reputation of the newsletter sender. Google has shown that they partially recognize this by now offering a Gmail function that let’s you ask Google itself to unsubscribe you from a sender whom you are too lazy to take an extra 1 second to unsubscribe from yourself.

But Google’s recent announcement page showed that you have to rudely “Unsubscribe + Report as Spam” instead of just “Unsubscribe from this Sender” which would be more appropriate.

I realize that newsletter and notification senders tend to put their unsubscribe links at the bottom of their emails, but c’mon folks. As long as such senders play by best practices, there is no need to be rude and hurt their reputation for something you asked them to do. Take the extra second and go to the bottom of their email and unsubscribe (if they ask you to remember a password to do this, go ahead and report them as spammers – while remembering, however, that Twitter would actually require you to remember your password to change your notification settings).

There is another type of sender that may be hurt by enthusiastic “This is Spam” clickers: the honest salesperson or PR person who makes a one-time “cold call” Email to an obviously highly-targeted potential client or journalist/blogger on a topic (not related to a commodity product) that the sender could expect the receiver to consider timely, topical and relevant to what they do for a living.

If you believe a cold caller could reasonably expect you to respond to his or her message and not have to apologize for having sent it (apologizing signals guilt as a spammer) then it would be good protocol and good karma to simply respond to their message either positively, not respond at all if you want to think about it or write the sender to say that you will probably not have interest in any future correspondence along those lines.

In other words, don’t hit “This is Spam” if the other person clearly considered you an important contact as opposed to a statistic…and would gladly not email you a second time if you politely told them of your lack of interest at the time. You could badly hurt their email deliverability to others if you hit the spam button without giving them a chance to take you off their list and that can hurt their ability to feed their wonderful children and mother-in-law.

In the end, humans will be rude to those whom they don’t respect…but it is bad karma not to respect everyone who cold calls…approaches you with what they thought was a relevant and targeted pitch.

Enter my company’s email plug-in SenderOK…this plug-in, which will get better with popularity and use and works with Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail/Live. SenderOK will help you know if a sender email address has been spamming everyone and anyone or if they have been getting replied to and are respected by others. A measurement is displayed in a photo business card in your email header pane which shows the sender’s network power. If they’re using SenderOK, you will see their photo profile. You will know if they are serious or if they are a fly by night spammer. They will identify themselves as part of a social network.

Photo Business Card in SenderOK Email Header Pane (Outlook)

Photo Business Card in SenderOK Email Header Pane (Outlook)

The plug-in will first show you VIP emails from your friends and colleagues and those contacts you’ve written to before. It will then show you Important notices from people who are deemed serious and identifiable. If you happen to be receiving newsletters or notifications from a company we have chosen to support, they will have their authentic emails arrive showing their color corporate icon in the inbox. This provides you with a measure of anti-phishing protection. Finally, SenderOK will show you routine notices and stuff that went to your spam box but didn’t belong there, like confirmation emails that you need to click on from websites you just visited and joined.

In the near future, most business email from reputable senders will arrive with color icons indicating that the sender has passed a best practices accreditation of some sort. Black and white email will be seen as either spam or its great Aunt Martha signing onto Yahoo for the first time and writing you out of the blue. See our last blog post in the above link for more on that.

SenderOK Icons in Yahoo!Mail Authenticate Senders

SenderOK Icons in Yahoo!Mail Authenticate Senders

Many of us find that we have to go into our spam boxes and sort the good from the bad and delete things there anyway. SenderOK helps make sure you don’t have to sort when you go there. If you signed up for something like Twitter notifications and we know that company to be reputable and we support them with authentic email icons…their email will bounce out of the spam box and into the inbox (this is fun to watch) at least long enough for you to unsubscribe, initiate a rule to send the notifications to a special folder or for you to tell SenderOK that you don’t want to take the extra second to unsubscribe and please just let that email keep going to the spam box (that you will have to sort anyway).

If you’re capitalist, your idea of spam might differ from those who don’t like free business practices.

SenderOK will help you sort email and recognize true spam no matter what your idealogy.

Share

July 25, 2009

Black and White Email Turns to Color – Like TV in the 1960s

There are old hands reading this who remember when television was entirely black and white. Monochrome television first appeared well before World War Two but few considered buying a TV set then because radios were in the middle of their Golden Age at the time with incredibly popular programming such as the Green Hornet, the Lone Ranger and Fibber McGee & Molly.  It is true, however, that black and white TV was successfully debuted in the USA in 1927 (see news clipping below) and FDR was televised making a speech at the World’s Fair of 1939. The Germans, Soviets, British and French had all been in a TV “arms race” involving espionage and sabotage…the bombing of Pearl Harbor was actually televised by CBS…Hitler televised from the Eiffel Tower during World War Two after he captured Paris.

The thing was, only “early adopters” had TV sets during this time, which would be similar to the 1980s for personal computers. You can read more about this on a great site called TVHistory.TV

This situation changed drastically after World War Two ended. Americans had spent the war going to the local cinema to see news reels of the troops in action. They now wanted that visual experience in their homes. In 1946, televisions were already a staple in bars and clubs, where major boxing championships played out to hundreds of thousands. In 1947, Kraft Television Theater, Meet the Press and The Howdy Doody Show became major black and white hits.

CBS tried to go straight into manufacturing color TVs in the late 1940s but their attempt didn’t jive with the fact that their proprietary technology did not work with the 10 million black and white sets already in use by Americans by 1949. RCA had a huge Trinitron color TV on the market in the late 40s (it had 3 cathode ray tubes representing the primary colors) but it was only for eccentric millionaires to gawk at and there was still little in terms of color programming. It wasn’t until after the Korean War subsided in 1953 that a standard was approved that would allow programming to work with both new color sets and existing black and white TVs.

In 1954, the first “mass market” color TVs from RCA cost what would be the equivalent of buying a car today.  Few people bought them, even when they could afford it as there was still very little programming for them.  David Sarnoff, the Russian immigrant chairman of RCA, remained in the hot seat with his board of directors until 1964 as all other companies that tried to manufacture and market color TVs gave up.

Dragnet, the famous TV show about LA detectives, was the first to broadcast a color film episode in December 1953.  Nobody noticed because the new RCA sets weren’t yet on the market. In June 1955, President Eisenhower was filmed on a color TV broadcast. Rich people noticed that. But it wasn’t until RCA color TV prices fell and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color premiered in 1961 that the masses started to go out and buy color technology. In 1962, the popularity of the “colorcasted” Flintstones and Jetsons guaranteed that color TV was here to stay. By 1966, the NBC peacock was announcing that 100% of NBC programming would be in color. Sarnoff, the father and champion of color TV, would die 5 years later at the age of 80.

Let’s fast forward to 2009.  Black and white email inboxes have been the standard since most of us started reading email in inboxes 20 years ago (thanks to Compuserve).

But it doesn’t have to stay that way and, if the above history teaches anything, it won’t.

Viktor Tatarov, CEO of the WebCEO company that helps webmasters tweek and monitor the hits they receive on websites, has developed a means by which color corporate icons appear in the inbox of major email programs whenever an SPF or DomainKey authenticated email arrives from that company’s domain(s).

These colorful “anti-phishing” icons, often the favicons that appear in the URL toolbar of web browsers, now appear in the email inbox list panel of users of the SenderOK Email Plug-in, which is downloadable at SenderOK.com. This now works in Microsoft Outlook as well as the webmail programs Hotmail/Live, Gmail and Yahoo. Only reputable companies, not spammers, will be allowed to have their emails appear with their corporate icons.

This will be a bolt from the blue for email marketers pursuing the Holy Grail called “Email Deliverability”. With SenderOK icon presentation, spam email will be separated from serious business email literally as black and white is to color. Email that comes from known reputable senders will be saved from the spambox, at least long enough for users to decide whether to unsubscribe or verify that they personally consider that otherwise reputable sender to be issuing spam. SenderOK can also act like a Nielsen rating box, letting senders know about the anonymous behavior of users in terms of how many users opened their email and how many deleted without reading.

Google has just announced that they will be doing something similar with Gmail Anti-Phishing Keys and their new newsletter unsubscribe service, but they are still thinking in terms of black and white…for now.

Take a look at the future which is here and now. Whether Tatarov and SenderOK will get all the credit or whether Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL will develop and implement similar technology on their own, doesn’t change the fact that the email inbox, like television, will after a 20 year delay, finally move from black and white to color.

Share this

|



May 22, 2009

Will Gmail Magic Inbox be as efficient as SenderOK?

Filed under: Email overload,Magic Inbox — EmailTray @ 15:45

SenderOK, a startup with a plugin known for providing email users with a smart algorithm for sorting and prioritizing email, has just come out with a new version of the software that works with the major webmail services like Gmail, Hotmail/Live and Yahoo!Mail without the user having to have Microsoft Outlook installed.

Coincidental with this announcement, technology bloggers such as TechCrunch started discussions on May 21st about a possible upcoming Google Gmail update with a feature called Magic Inbox (and/or Icebox Inbox). This feature would supposedly do some of what the email add-on SenderOK (www.senderok.com) already does, namely prioritize emails from senders whom the user knows and tends to respond to.

The question is: Will Google – like SenderOK – give priority to some senders who haven’t emailed before and who are not yet in the receiver’s address book?

Will Google – like SenderOK – show the sender’s photo business card when the sender is not a Gmail customer – most businesses do not send Gmail. SenderOK uses a smart algorithm to sort email according to the user’s past behavior and sender importance. It analyzes not only direct contacts, but contacts’ contacts regardless of where it has found such a contact – in Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or HotMail/Live. It also associates several email accounts with one person, in this way making the sorting much more accurate.

SenderOK’s window, which displays unread important messages by each of the user’s email accounts, is a unique feature.

SenderOK is conscious of its role in attacking the email overload problem that has become one of the most serious of business and social challenges. In search of a solution to information overload, key IT players such as Microsoft (MSFT), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), Xerox (XRX), Symantec (SYMC), Google (GOOG) and Basex created the Information Overload Research Group (IORG) in June 2008.

Will Gmail’s allegedly upcoming social filter cause a revolution in email behavior? Time will tell, but SenderOK already has the above functionality and more.

About the Company: SenderOK (www.senderok.com) was founded by the same experienced management team, well-known among Americans, who made Web CEO, http://www.webceo.com, the most popular website marketing and management software in the world. SenderOK has six US patents pending so far.

March 30, 2009

How Twitter Can Reduce Email Overload in 2009

Filed under: Email overload — EmailTray @ 08:59
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

There has been a lot of chatter recently about Twitter (and related micro-blogging services) being a great way to reduce email overload. Few people are able to explain how this will happen but let’s give it a try:

Email overload can be defined not only as that which we must plow through in our various inboxes (you are masochistic if you let everything come into just one inbox without pre-sorting), but all those emails that we feel we have to send out just to get a simple message across to a significant number of targeted people (and thus keep food on the family’s table). If we define email overload as including that which we feel we have to send, we can better understand how to reduce it.

I have often wondered why I’ve had to send out 20,000 emails per year in various positions over the past ten years. The answer I always come up with is simple: the Google search algorithm quickly locks in an almost rock-solid result for various keywords, barely taking into account that the most recent mentions of that keyword might be the most relevant.  As Google became everyone’s favorite search engine for 9 years, the world got into the habit of not caring about who made the last mention of a particular keyword combination. Wikipedia articles now appear in the #1 position for most keywords, but with partisans constantly erasing what you may have tried to write there, that is possibly the last place you can rely on to get a message across (I recommend WebCEO to improve your site’s position on Google all the same).

What’s more: You won’t directly get a “following” in Google or from Google. If people find the article you wrote yesterday on page 19 of their Google results, they might visit your site and sign up for your newsletter. Then your new “following” has to be informed via, you guessed it, mass broadcasting of emails.

Google tried to remedy the above situation by letting people subscribe to Google Alerts, but their “followers” end up only subscribing to the key word but not to you. Under this regime, where people were Google Followers and not your followers, we were all still compelled to build huge databases of everyone who might be interested in our messages…and broadcasting the same or varying messages to them, by email, at least once per month.

When I’ve sent out 400 emails in the past, my hope was that I would get 10-20 people to act on the message. That would keep me, as an internationally oriented salesperson, employed under a Google regime where my company’s site was not necessarily ranking well for many foreign keywords and raking in a lot of foreign customers on its own.

Enter Twitter Search. With Twitter and the following you get, you can send a newsletter blurb 20 times per day as long as you remain interesting. If you are interesting, you can be yourself and announce your product benefits while gathering a following of people interested in those products or, more likely, what you have to say about their industry in general that will help them with their careers.

So instead of sending out 400 emails to get 5 people interested, you only have to do one series of 3 or 4 tweets on a compelling subject for about 5 minutes and, voila, you may have 20 new followers. These followers can be extremely high quality because they were looking for information on your subject in real time. You can also grab the attention of targets at an extremely high level simply by following them!

Under such conditions, you may or may not decide to can your email newsletter altogether – if you continue, I recommend that you get accredited by and use an email deliverability service like SuretyMail to make sure your message lands in the inbox. Hot tip: make sure you use authentication when you send emails. New plugins like SenderOK will soon make such email stand out in living color in order to put phishers slowly out of business.

Twitter should have a paid service where customers can download the business cards of their followers if those followers clicked on an Opt-In for that. But, although I would pay for such a service, it generally isn’t hard to identify followers and, using Xing.com, LinkedIn, Ecademy, Viadeo or Google, find out how to email or call them to see if they want to do business.

Have you heard of anyone abandoning email because of Twitter? Well you are about to:

Just this weekend, I retired most of a database of 1000 people who got a few emails from me per year on a non-business issue I wanted to influence (that is 3000 emails I sent per year to a special database on a minor issue with only a 1% opt-out rate). The reason: although the people were obviously interested in getting my email updates, with an extra account on Twitter, I gathered more high quality followers for that subject in a single day than I had over the course of any year previously. Sure, I wish Twitter could allow me to upload a CSV file and invite the old database, but I am otherwise inclined now to just wait until these “old friends” find me via real time Twitter Search and follow me if they want to. It is heartening to know that only those in the old database who were really interested are going to lookup and find me on Twitter when they finally get around to joining that service.

If you extrapolate my experience of retiring a database and ending a broadcast email regime because Twitter gathers more followers more effectively, 2009 might see the end of a lot of broadcast emailing on the part of hundreds of thousands of people like me.

Now I hope it is clear why I wanted to define “Email Overload” as including email we feel we have to send to keep a following interested and informed.

Note: The author works for SenderOK which provides a valuable email plugin (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) that will also greatly help you reduce email overload. SenderOK sorts email by importance according to a smart algorithm that analyzes how you’ve evaluated and behaved toward particular sender email addresses in the past. Follow Allen on Twitter @allenonblacksea or follow SenderOK @senderok.

March 16, 2009

Email Overload: What dominates your inbox?

Filed under: Email overload,Gmail — EmailTray @ 15:35
Tags: ,

For 6000 years of recorded history, the cold-calling salesperson has arguably been the main driver of innovation. This is because he or she has often been the first to hear about a demand for a particular solution not yet invented and not yet even discussed.

For much of the above-mentioned 6000 years, the cold-calling salesperson chose targets wisely because he or she would often have to physically travel to the target (it is said that ancient salespeople used tavern message boards as the equivalent of Internet forums to spam on). Even the advent of the telephone only raised the number of realistic cold-calls per day from the single digits to the double digits. 

It was not really until the advent of broadcast email capability that salespeople really became either 1) super effective or 2) super annoying. Today, as Basex has pointed out, Email Overload is one of the main problems corporations are going to want to fix.

Read this classic article from just before Christmas where Basex claims that information overload costs the US economy more than $900 Billion per year:

http://www.basexblog.com/2008/12/19/information-overload-now-900-billion-what-is-your-organizations-exposure/

Now that we have established that email overload is killing us, one has to ask…are cold-emailing salespeople really the problem?

Let’s put this to the ultimate test:

On Friday I took a look at my personal laptop which takes emails sent to 5 different email addresses. Most of the email is forwarded to special folders via the Outlook Rules and Alerts function. Here is what I found in terms of constant “Incoming”:

1) My AOL addresses (downloaded in Outlook via POP3) get almost no spam because the AOL filters are really good these days. Once per week I have to go to AOL webmail to see if they designated good emails as spam. Thankfully they do not often make mistakes because I would rather get 10 spam emails then miss out on 1 good email (adjust your AOL spam filter to be relatively lenient).

Significantly, great email deliverability companies like the ISIPP (Institute for Social Internet Public Policy) and ReturnPath have helped to make honest corporations responsible in their email broadcasting behavior while true spammers have become easier and easier for ISPs to catch. I would say that the ISPs are being too strict: I would prefer that American ISPs not block entire IP ranges from parts of the world where plenty of great people live.

2) Twitter Notifications: The majority of my new emails, to any address, are Twitter notifications – technically Twimailer notifications because they arrive with an HTML page with the photo and follower information of a new follower. I never get Qwitter notifications because nobody seems to want to unfollow me on Twitter. 😉

I will browse Twitter Twimailer notifications quickly and I consider them valuable networking information for future email searches.

3) LinkedIn & Ecademy & Facebook notifications – none of it really spam except for the occasional unprofessional social networker like the one who just overloaded my Facebook message page with ads (if they had crossed over to my email inbox, I would have deleted that new “friend”).

4) Newsletters from Stratfor and a very few other news analysis sites. I don’t delete or unsubscribe from a newsletter if it has grandfathered itself into my life and comes no less than once per week and often has fascinating content I can read at a later date. I have tried to unsubscribe from a few newsletters that require a password to do that – a sneaky trick. I only accept corporate product newsletters from companies I work for or have worked for in the past.

5) While the occasional spam email (untargeted ad probably coming from a botnet) comes in and gets deleted in a half-second, personalized sales emails meant for me and me alone do not occupy much of my time. It is never spam to me if a salesperson is clearly pitching an idea to me specifically (or includes me in a rare broadcast of less than 200 people on a matter that is clearly of interest to me) .

And, as said above, email deliverability companies like the ISIPP and its SuretyMail service have helped make it second nature for people to request removal from email lists and for those requests to be granted.

Conclusion: Much of our Email Overload in 2009 is of our own making, meaning newsletters and social networking notifications. There is hardly an inbox problem coming from salespeople who specifically write to us as individuals on relevant matters. Here is some advice to cut down your email intake and processing time:

1) Use “Rules and Alerts” functionality to put certain types of email in certain types of folders. You should already have a Twitter and other Social Networking site notification folder. If you don’t and you are not automatically forwarding notifications there, you are your own worst enemy and you are costing your company time if you use work hours to drag and drop new notifications somewhere.

2) Unsubscribe from at least two newsletters that you now find interesting. You can go visit their website. Don’t waste your company’s time reading non-work related newsletters during work hours in any case.

3) Download and use the SenderOK add-on for Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail at www.SenderOK.com. SenderOK will analyze how often you’ve answered or deleted email from a specific sender. It will also judge whether you’ve recently been to the website of an incoming email from a new sender. It will then create a VIP and Important folder for you to see at a glance what is important and what Routine mails can be mass drag and dropped to a ToDo folder from the Inbox.

I hope this discussion has helped at least one of my readers battle Email Overload effectively.