EmailTray Universal Smart Email Notifier

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.

March 9, 2009

Gmail users can now have photo business cards in the header panel

Filed under: Gmail — EmailTray @ 17:21
Tags: , , , ,

There are a lot of free Microsoft Outlook plug-ins available today but the SenderOK plug-in at www.senderok.com works in Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail as well as Outlook 2003 and 2007.

For the next 10 days or so you will still have to have Outlook installed on your Windows machine, but you won’t have to use Outlook. Soon even that requirement will be a memory. Gmail users…hello.

The main user draw will be a photo business card (which will pull photos out of an address book or if the sender uploaded their photo to our site or via a social networking site). This business card is visible in the header pane (and preview pane) of email. No more business cards as attached files.

If you click on the business card, the view will expand to show all the emails and attachments that person sent before.

Gmail and Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail users…there are more ways to convince you to download from www.senderok.com:

We sort email by importance and will take good emails out of your spam box and put them in the Gmail inbox (or the “important folder” we create in Outlook). That in itself is a reason to install.

We can also authenticate email for our users to avoid phishing attempts. Small company logos for legitimate corporate email would be seen in the user inbox replacing the boring square envelope icon.

Studies have shown that email users are twice as likely to read email that comes with a corporate sender icon instead of the usual envelope icon. They likely trust the sender more…and for good reason. The logo can only appear if the email has been authenticated.

Soon, logos in the inbox will be a standard and SenderOK will have led the way.

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