A Comprehensive Guide to Email Management

Email Management 101: Best Practices & Tips

Struggling with managing your email? Looking for any advice that could help? Well, you’re not alone. There are thousands of other people dealing with messy email inboxes every single day. When your inbox is cluttered with a high volume of emails, important messages can easily get lost or overlooked. This can result in missed opportunities,.

sanjana

January 27, 2024

14 mins read

Struggling with managing your email? Looking for any advice that could help?

Well, you’re not alone. There are thousands of other people dealing with messy email inboxes every single day.

When your inbox is cluttered with a high volume of emails, important messages can easily get lost or overlooked. This can result in missed opportunities, critical deadlines, or important communications from colleagues or clients. Of course, you don’t want that.

This article delves into the art of email management, offering practical strategies to declutter your inbox, streamline your workflow, and regain control over your digital correspondence.

What is email management?

Email management is all about handling your emails in a smart and organized way to save time and work better. It involves sorting your emails into neat folders or categories, so you can easily find what you need. It also means giving priority to important messages and keeping your inbox clean from spam and junk.

You can make things easier by using tools that automatically sort your emails and respond to common messages for you. It’s also important to keep your email account secure by using strong passwords and being careful with suspicious emails.

Managing your emails this way not only helps you work more efficiently but also makes sure you don’t miss important stuff and keep your inbox tidy. Plus, it’s a good idea to follow email manners, like writing clear and respectful messages, so your communication with others stays professional and courteous.

How does email management help?

Here are some of the benefits you get when you manage your email inbox.

Increased productivity

Effective email management helps individuals and organizations stay organized and focused on important tasks. By reducing clutter and prioritizing emails, you can spend less time sifting through your inbox and more time getting work done.

With email management practices in place, you can reduce the constant interruption caused by email notifications and the temptation to check your inbox frequently. This uninterrupted focus on your primary tasks leads to improved productivity and the ability to complete projects more efficiently.

Time savings

An employee spends an average of eleven hours a week going through emails. Managing emails efficiently can save a significant amount of time. It allows you to quickly locate important messages, respond promptly, and minimize the time spent on less critical emails, freeing up valuable hours in your day.

Instead of scrolling through pages of unsorted emails, you can use search filters and find relevant messages within seconds. This streamlined search process saves you significant time and frustration.

Enhanced communication

Email management ensures that you don’t miss important messages, deadlines, or opportunities. This leads to better communication with colleagues, clients, and partners, which can improve relationships and collaboration. By organizing your inbox and setting up alerts or notifications for critical emails, you can ensure that you respond promptly to important messages.

You can assign labels, tags, or categories to differentiate between critical messages and less important ones. This prioritization ensures that you give appropriate attention to high-priority tasks and communications, avoiding bottlenecks and delays.

Organized inbox

By categorizing, labeling, and archiving emails, you can maintain a well-organized inbox. This makes it easier to find specific messages when needed and prevents important information from getting lost in the digital chaos.

Without effective email management practices, your inbox can quickly become overwhelmed with a constant influx of messages. This overload not only hinders your ability to locate crucial information but can also lead to important emails getting buried beneath newer, less relevant ones

21 best tips to manage the email inbox

Here are the best tips that keep your inbox clean, clutter-free and boost your email productivity:

Use a dedicated customer support email address

Creating a dedicated customer support email address is a smart move for several reasons. First and foremost, it helps keep your customer inquiries and support requests separate from your personal or general business email accounts. This separation ensures that customer-related emails don’t get lost or buried among other messages, making it easier to provide timely and efficient support.

Here is how having a dedicated customer support email help:

  1. Organization: By having a separate email address for customer support, you can maintain a well-organized system for handling customer inquiries.

  2. Branding: A dedicated support email address, such as support@yourcompany.com, reinforces your brand identity.

  3. Efficiency: When all customer inquiries are funneled into a single email address, it becomes easier for your support team to collaborate and coordinate responses.

  4. Accountability: With a designated support email, it’s clear who is responsible for handling customer inquiries.

Doing this is easy. You could simply create separate email addresses that team members use. For example, support@yourcompany.com.

Set clear response time expectations

A study by Freshworks has found that 52% of customers will stop purchasing from your brand because of slow response times. And no business wants to lose customers, right?

This is why setting clear response time expectations is important. Setting this expectation not only shows your professionalism but also contributes to customer satisfaction.

Sometimes, doing this can calm down an angry customer because they know nothing can be fixed for the next 4 hours (or whatever your set expectations are).

Here is how you can implement this for inbox management:

  1. Establish Response Time Goals: You might aim to respond to urgent inquiries within 1-2 hours and non-urgent ones within 24 hours. The specific goals will depend on your business and industry. Remember to keep it realistic!

  2. Communicate Expectations: This information can be included in your email signature, on your website, or in an automated acknowledgment email. For example, you can state, “We aim to respond to all inquiries within 24 hours during our business hours.”.

  3. Adjust for Peak Times: Be prepared to adjust your response time expectations during peak periods or when dealing with higher-than-normal email volumes. Communicate any temporary changes in response times clearly to manage customer expectations.

It is as simple as setting a realistic response time, communicating that to your customers and adjusting when needed.

Prioritize urgent emails

In an ideal world, incoming emails should be dealt with on a first-come, first serve basis. But in the real world, problems look like this: one customer has his payment stuck while another has a general query about a new launch.

Even if the latter arrived into your primary inbox first, priority has to be given to the former. By prioritizing urgent emails you ensure that critical issues are promptly addressed, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and better problem resolution.

Here’s how to do this

  1. Define Urgency Criteria: Establish clear criteria for what constitutes an urgent email—customer safety concerns, technical outages, or billing errors.

  2. Use Subject Lines and Flags: Encourage your team to use clear and standardized subject lines or flags to identify urgent emails.

  3. Automated Alerts: Consider setting up automated alerts or notifications for urgent emails. This could involve using email filters to trigger notifications for specific keywords or send urgent emails to a designated folder.

  4. Escalation Process: Develop a clear escalation process for unresolved urgent matters. Ensure that team members know who to contact or how to escalate issues when necessary.

This may get complex as the volume of support ticket grows. When that happens, opting for a shared inbox tool is the best option!

Categorize emails

It’s always easier to find stuff at Walmart when the sections are categorized. Similarly, one of the best email management tips is to categorize your emails. And thankfully, you’ve got many options! You can use labels, folders, or tags.

To do this in Gmail, go to your inbox and check the left sidebar menu in full view. You’ll find “manage labels” under the “categories” tab. Click on “Create a new label” below it. Each label is like a folder, so give it a name that describes what’s inside. Use words that make it easy to search for emails later.

You can also pick different colors for your labels and tags to help organize things better.

1. Create canned responses

Canned responses boost productivity by saving time that would be spent writing the same email over and over again. Customer service representatives can handle a higher volume of inquiries when equipped with response templates.

Canned responses also minimize the risk of errors or omissions in important messages, as key details are already included in the template.

List of canned responses for better email management.

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Start by identifying the most frequently asked questions or common types of inquiries that your team encounters.

  2. Gather all the necessary and accurate information related to each common inquiry. This includes facts, policies, procedures, and any other relevant details.

  3. Create response templates for each common inquiry.

  4. Store these templates in an easily accessible and organized manner.

    Note : Within each template, provide options for personalization. Include placeholders for variables like the customer’s name, order number, or specific details related to their inquiry.

2. Personalize responses

I don’t love when a company personalizes for me—said no customer ever.

In fact, 76% consumers are saying that they are more likely to buy from a brand that personalizes. While response templates are valuable for efficiency and consistency, personalization ensures that customers feel heard, valued, and understood.

Personalized responses, an email management tip.

Personalized responses show that you prioritize your customers as individuals. It conveys a customer-centric approach, which can lead to stronger customer loyalty and retention.

And yes, personalization does start with greeting them with their name but that’s not it. Here’s what more you can do:

  • Show empathy by acknowledging the customer’s specific issue or question. This demonstrates that you’ve read and understood their message.

  • If applicable, reference any previous interactions or history with the customer.

  • Express empathy and understanding in your responses. Use phrases like “I understand how frustrating this must be” or “I’m sorry to hear about your experience.”

Tailor your solutions or recommendations to address the customer’s unique situation. Avoid providing generic answers that may not fully resolve their issue.

3. Use automated replies

Another email management tip we have is—using automated replies. Automated replies offer an instant acknowledgment to customers, assuring them that their message has been received.

Automating initial responses for common inquiries can save your team valuable time. Routine inquiries, such as password resets or confirmation receipts, can be handled without manual intervention.

Automated replies.

Needless to say automated replies are a savior for time sensitive emails and repeated customer questions. But don’t overdo it. While they are useful for acknowledgement and initial responses, avoid relying on them for addressing all queries, especially those that require a personalized touch.

4. Set up email filters

Email filters are the best to manage inbox effectively. Email filters help streamline your inbox by automatically categorizing and organizing incoming emails based on predefined criteria.

Begin by identifying the criteria you want to use for filtering emails. This could include sender email addresses, keywords in the subject line, specific words or phrases within the email body, or other factors like attachment types.

Create a new filter or rule based on the criteria you’ve identified. Most email services provide a user-friendly interface for setting up filters.

Specify what actions the filter should take when it encounters an email that matches your criteria. Common actions include moving the email to a designated folder, applying a label or tag, marking it as important, or deleting it.

5. Use email aliases

For the different types of queries that your team may receive, you could set up email aliases. Email aliases are essentially alternative email addresses that forward emails to a designated recipient or group of recipients within your organization.

Using email alias to manage emails better.

Email aliases simplify the process of directing inquiries to the right team members or departments. You can create aliases for each email account like support@yourcompany.com or billing@yourcompany.com.

Here is how you can do this:

  • Determine the key functional areas or departments within your organization that would benefit from dedicated email aliases. Common examples include support, billing, sales, and technical inquiries.

  • Select aliases that clearly indicate their purpose. Use aliases like support@yourcompany.com or billing@yourcompany.com.

  • Access your email hosting or domain management platform to set up email aliases. Most email hosting providers offer straightforward options for creating aliases associated with your primary domain.

  • Specify the team members or individuals responsible for monitoring and responding to emails sent to each alias.

6. Manage email notifications

Email management is typically impossible without managing your notifications. Disabling notifications helps your team not get distracted.

Don’t get us wrong, disabling email notifications doesn’t mean shutting down all of them. Turn off notifications for things like social media updates or updates from third party apps.

For example, if your team uses another project management tool like ClickUp, you don’t need to see every activity happening there via notifications.

7. Improve email communication within the team

Inbox management also includes your team helping keep the inbox organized. If your team members keep adding to the email clutter, no amount of email management tips can help.

That’s not it: Streamlined email communication within the team reduces delays, misunderstandings, and redundancy.

Here’s how you can do this:

  • Develop a set of email communication guidelines that outline expectations for tone, style, response times, and etiquette within the team.

  • Encourage team members to include consistent and informative email signatures. This helps recipients easily identify the sender and provides contact information for quick reference.

  • Advise against overusing the “Reply All” function. Encourage team members to reply to the sender when individual responses are more appropriate to prevent unnecessary clutter in inboxes.

  • When forwarding emails within the team, provide context or a brief explanation of why the email is being shared.

8. Schedule dedicated email-checking times

The email inbox is always buzzing, whether with marketing emails or messages from important clients, but your team cannot always be sitting in the email box.

Frequent email checks can disrupt your workflow and decrease productivity. Dedicated email-checking times allow you to allocate focused blocks of time for deep work and uninterrupted concentration on important tasks.

Determine the best times to check emails based on your work patterns, priorities, and peak productivity hours. Common intervals include the beginning, middle, and end of the workday.

If possible, set up out-of-office replies during your non-email-checking periods to inform senders when they can expect a response. Include an alternative contact for urgent matters.

9. Archive or delete unnecessary emails

Cleaning up your email inbox helps you stay organized, reduces stress, and allows you to focus on your customer service tasks. Inbox management gets easier when you archive or delete unnecessary emails like promotional emails.

Unnecessary emails could increase multifold when you use multiple inboxes. It’s a good idea to archive emails you may need. You can use the unsubscribe link to get rid of emails you no longer want to receive.

Just set some clear rules for what you consider unnecessary emails and use filters to sort out certain types. Review and process your emails regularly to aim for that “zero inbox.” And remember to check your archived emails now and then, deleting the ones you don’t need anymore.

10. Use email signature templates

Using email signature templates is a smart move that can significantly improve email management for both individuals and teams.

Email signature templates ensure that every email sent by your team members maintains a consistent and professional look. This consistency helps reinforce your brand identity and professionalism.

Here’s a good email template reference for you:

Email signature template in Gmail.

A well-designed email signature template includes essential contact information such as names, titles, phone numbers, and links to social media profiles or company websites. This makes it easy for recipients to reach out or learn more about your organization.

11. Encourage collaboration

Encouraging teamwork and sharing within your customer service team is like adding a secret ingredient to email management.

Collaboration is key because it helps your team share knowledge and work together more efficiently. When team members share what they know, it creates a collective brainpower that can quickly solve customer issues. This means faster solutions and cleaner inbox.

To make it work, start by keeping communication open. Encourage your team to share ideas and ask for help. Have regular meetings to talk about challenging cases and solutions. Use tools like Keeping that make it easy to chat and share information.

By promoting teamwork and knowledge sharing, you’re not only improving email efficiency but also creating a culture of learning and growth. It leads to better customer service and a happier, more engaged team.

12. Implement customer feedback mechanisms

Email management is not just limited to email. You can use customer feedback to organize mail as well.

Implementing customer feedback mechanisms is a strategic move that can significantly enhance your email management and overall customer service. Feedback mechanisms enable your team to identify areas of improvement in email interactions. You can uncover recurring issues, gauge the effectiveness of your email templates, and pinpoint opportunities to enhance your customer service.

Offer multiple channels for customers to provide feedback, such as post-interaction surveys, feedback forms on your website, or direct email responses. Make it easy for customers to share their thoughts.

Regularly analyze the feedback received. Look for patterns and trends to identify common issues or areas where you excel. Use this data to make informed decisions and improvements.

13. Use email tagging for follow-ups

Imagine the hundreds of emails flowing into the main inbox and on top of that the follow-ups on previous mails—surely too much! Email tagging is your saviour here.

Email tagging allows you to efficiently track and categorize past mail based on their status or importance. This means you can quickly identify which emails require follow-up actions, preventing important matters from slipping through the cracks.

Create a set of clear and descriptive tags that reflect the nature of the follow-up required. Common tags could include “To-Do,” “Pending,” “Follow-Up,” or “Urgent.”

When tagging an email for follow-up, consider attaching a deadline or a specific date for action. This adds a sense of urgency and ensures tasks are addressed in a timely manner.

14. Review and optimize canned responses

You’ve set up email responses, great! But it’s important to visit them from time to time to review and optimize if needed.

As your products, services, or policies evolve, your canned responses may become outdated. Periodic reviews help ensure that the information provided in your responses remains accurate and reflects the current state of your business.

How to use canned responses to manage emails faster.

Here’s how you can do this:

  • Create a regular schedule for reviewing and optimizing your responses. Quarterly or semi-annual reviews are a good starting point.

  • Begin by identifying canned responses that may be outdated or no longer accurate. Look for responses related to product features, pricing, policies, or frequently asked questions.

  • Ensure that product details, pricing, terms, and conditions are current. If your contact information or support channels have changed, update them as well.

Pro Tip: Involve your customer service team in the review process. They are on the front lines of customer interactions and can provide valuable insights into which canned responses need optimization or updates.

15. Use the OHIO method

The next email management tip we have is using the OHIO method. Its core principle is that every email you receive should be dealt with just once.

Instead of merely clicking on email notifications to briefly glance at incoming email, then revisiting them later for a thorough read, and finally responding, the OHIO method encourages immediate and complete handling of each email.

When individuals initially adopt the OHIO method, they may experience a dip in productivity because they find themselves compelled to respond to emails even when they’re not prepared to do so, due to the temptation of opening them.

Over time, this method compels you to limit checking emails to specific times of the day, ultimately making them more focused and productive.

16. Switch from group email to shared inbox

Group emails are great but are no less annoying than the random Facebook groups we all are a part of. Group emails can easily get messy and you may even start dreading to open it.

Shared inboxes facilitate collaborative email management. Multiple team members can access and work on the same set of emails, eliminating redundancy and ensuring faster response times. Shared inboxes allow you to assign specific emails to team members, ensuring clear ownership and accountability for each email thread. This reduces the chances of emails falling through the cracks.

Provide comprehensive training for your team on how to use the shared inbox effectively. Ensure they understand the new system’s features, collaboration tools, and tagging capabilities. Schedule regular review sessions with your team to assess the effectiveness of the shared inbox system.

17. Use an email management software

We’ve given you plenty of tips on how you can manage your email, but what about software that does it for you? Keeping is an email management software that helps keep your inbox clean and deliver exceptional customer service.

Here is why we say this:

  • Keeping stands out by offering affordability that surpasses other software solutions on our list.
  • Setting up Keeping is straightforward, leading to reduced technical expenses and time savings.
  • The user-friendliness of Keeping translates into time and cost savings, as there’s no need to invest heavily in training your team to use new customer service software effectively.
  • Keeping does not overwhelm your team with unnecessary features that may not be relevant to your business at this stage.

Here are some of the key features that boost your customer service operations:

Ticket assignment

With Keeping, you can assign relevant emails to the right agent. You can do it manually or by setting up a workflow automation for it.

Screenshot showing tickets being assigned to a relevant teammate in the email inbox.

Workflow automation

Not all tasks require specific attention from your customer support team. For all those tasks, we’ve got workflow automation. With the help of simple if/then logics you can automate tasks to avoid constant distraction from the important ones.

Automation in email to help manage the inbox and incoming emails better.

Tracking and reporting

How do you know if your customer support efforts are bringing the right results? By tracking the KPIs. Keeping lets you track important metrics like customer satisfaction, resolution rate and agent performance.

Email management analytics.

But that’s still not all; other features like collision detection, shared notes, ticket status, desktop notifications, SLAs, Shopify integration, and Zapier integrations are the other key features.

In a nutshell, Keeping comes with all the features you need to achieve that inbox zero. Want to see it all? Click here to know more.

sanjana

Sanjana Sankhyan is a freelance writer who specializes in delivering data-driven blog posts for B2B SaaS brands. She helps businesses attract more audience and sales with her writing. If not writing, you’ll find her helping other freelancers improve their work. Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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