When email first came out, each time I got a new message, I loved it!
Now? I get hundreds per day — it’s not quite as special anymore.
But while the entertainment value of email has declined, its role in business has remained important.
Of all the email options out there, I’m a big fan of Gmail. It’s a free service and one of the most popular email services on the web:
But here’s the thing: just using Gmail isn’t enough if you want to achieve great results in your business. You have to use it the right way.
Did you know that being interrupted by email costs the average worker an hour of lost time each day? Think about how much work could be done in that extra hour.
Part of the problem is that we develop bad habits over the years. Radicati found that the typical employee checks their email an amazing 36 times per hour. They also send and receive 105 emails during the day.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this level of distraction is not conducive to productivity and that this volume of email for an average worker is kind of scary. It’s almost inevitable that you would lose emails and forget to do important things.
Managers are supposed to be pretty good at…well…managing things, right? But even they can’t manage inboxes well. In fact, 59% of middle managers miss at least one important piece of information from email every day because they can’t find it. Sometimes, they never see it in the first place.
As marketers, we deal with many people who have these habits every day. Heck, maybe we ourselves are guilty of some bad habits as well.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to turn your Gmail inbox into a machine, where junk is ruthlessly eliminated and valuable emails are always acted upon.
To do so, you’re going to need plugins, and lots of them.
That’s why I’ve hand-picked 22 of the best Gmail plugins that will help you clean up your inbox (and keep it clean), send emails that get opened more, and increase your email productivity.
Download this cheat sheet of of 22 gmail plugins that all content marketers need to know about.
You won’t and shouldn’t install them all, but I bet you can find at least a few that will make a significant difference in the results of your emailing efforts.
Streamline and automate sending emails
Two things always grow as you become more successful: income and emails.
Not only do you receive more email but you also send more emails — out of necessity, of course. Readers, employees, partners, and your regular friends all need your attention.
If you’re not careful, you’ll spend half your day checking and writing emails.
TNS found that workers spend the most time every week checking email:
Luckily, there are some great Gmail plugins that will help you clear out your inbox faster without missing anything important.
1. Boomerang. Use it to schedule emails or remind you to send an email at a specific time.
Boomerang solves all sorts of common problems for content marketers.
Do you ever want to respond to an email, but not right away? For example, maybe you need to send an invoice in a week.
Boomerang lets you schedule when your email needs to go out. Here’s how you do it:
Once you send the email, you don’t have to worry about remembering to do it later, and it doesn’t clutter up your inbox.
One other great reason to use the scheduling feature is for your link outreach campaigns. Emailing someone at 2 AM is a surefire way to get your email buried under the rest of someone’s morning email.
MailChimp found that the highest email open rates occur between 8 AM and 5 PM.
When sending emails to someone you don’t know well, schedule them to be sent during this window to maximize your chances of them being read.
While the plugin has a few other features, the next most useful one reflects why the plugin named Boomerang in the first place.
Sometimes, you can’t respond to an email right away even if you’d like to. You could be waiting for some results or for responses from other members of your team on a project.
So if someone, say a client, sends you an email asking for an update at the start of the day, you can “boomerang” the email to make it disappear from your inbox — for now — and show up at a later time marked “unread.”
This will prevent emails from being buried and forgotten. Here’s how simple it is:
2. Clientele.io. This plugin was created for marketers who want to maximize their follow-up email response rates.
If you’re dealing with busy clients but need their approval or feedback, you likely find yourself waiting for them to get back to you.
What Clientele does is it tracks the results of your normal email activity and over time determines which times are best to send emails to a certain person. You want emails not just to get opened but also replied to.
Like we discussed before, many people get bogged down by piles of email. Even if they mean to respond to you, it’s possible that they just forget.
Not only will this plugin help you send the first email at the optimal time but it will also help you time a follow-up email.
3. FollowupCC. Sometimes we mean to follow up with someone, but forget to. This plugin gives you the choice to set a follow-up date when you are sending/replying to an email.
If you haven’t heard back from your recipient, you’ll get a new email in that thread reminding you to follow up.
There’s another feature that made it hard to categorize this plugin. When you send emails, you have the option of tracking who’s looking at the email. The results can be seen in a sidebar as shown below:
When it comes to sales, only 2% of sales actually occur on the first contact. Eighty percent occur after the fifth contact.
Even if you’re not directly involved in the sales process, you likely use email to build relationships and work with people. If you don’t ever follow up, chances are that you’ve lost a lot of business (and profit) because your emails were simply forgotten or buried.
Considering how little it takes to send a follow-up (especially with a plugin), the results are definitely worth your effort.
Give it a try — start following up regularly when you don’t hear back from a contact. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results over time.
4. Yet Another Mail Merge. Mail merges may have fallen out of fashion over the years, but in some situations they are still handy.
A mail merge, for those of you not familiar with the term, allows you to input contact information such as name, email address, and anything else you’d like into a spreadsheet. You can then send an email to all these addresses at the same time, complete with personalization.
Here’s how Yet Another Mail Merge works using a Google Sheet (spreadsheet) and your Gmail account:
5. WiseStamp: Create an email signature that stands out. If you’ve ever emailed me, you know that I have a pretty unique signature at the end of all my emails:
A good email signature is a great personal branding opportunity. It’s a chance to stand out while also communicating important information without any extra effort.
If you have a really high volume of emails, adding a line like mine to your signature will significantly cut down on the number of emails people send you. In addition, it saves you from people thinking that you’re rude because of your short replies due to time constraints.
WiseStamp allows you to create a custom signature for your emails. You can include a picture, links to social profiles or websites, phone numbers, and any message you want — the sky’s the limit.
Spying on prospects (a.k.a. tracking email open rate)
Where does your email go when you click “send”?
It seems as if it just poofs into the ether of the Internet.
Of course, it doesn’t disappear. You just can’t see it going into your recipient’s mailbox.
If you’re like me, you’d feel that it sucks. I want to know that my emails are ending up in inboxes and being read, not being filtered into junk or promotional tabs.
If you’re emailing someone influential, it could be days or weeks before you hear back…or never.
James Altucher once shared that he had 105,591 unread emails in his inbox. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if he had at least opened an email you sent? You bet. Then you could follow up or try to get in touch through different means.
This is where the following plugins come in handy. They allow you to see when emails you send are opened and how often. You can use this information to improve your email open rate over time.
6. Yesware. When you send an email, all you need to do is check the box beside “Track” at the bottom. Yesware will track all future actions your recipient takes with your email.
You have two types of ways to view the results of tracking. There’s a limited collapsible panel above your inbox that you can use to view the most recent email data, or you can dig into detailed reports on the Yesware website.
In the detailed reports, you can analyze your results for all the major metrics such as clicks and opens.
If you’re running an email outreach campaign, chances are you’ll be emailing hundreds of people with similar subject lines.
By creating a few variations of your subject line, you can split test which one gets the most opens and positive responses. Take the winner as your new default, and then begin a new test during your next campaign.
Finally, Yesware also lets you create and save email templates. If you find yourself sending a lot of similar emails, just create a template and insert it into your next blank email. This feature can save you a lot of time during email outreach campaigns.
7. BananaTag. This plugin is very similar to Yesware. Just click the tag option at the bottom of any email, and you will be able to see exactly when and who is opening it later on.
The analytics are also very solid, allowing you to examine your email open rate over time and improve it through experimentation.
One final note: they’ve also released a beta tool that allows you to schedule sending emails, which may eliminate the need for an extra plugin.
8. ToutApp. This plugin is a little more robust and meant for a team use. It features similar tracking capabilities as the other plugins in this section, e.g., email opens, interactions (clicks/downloads), and replies.
ToutApp also features easy to save and use templates, which can speed up any repetitive outreach efforts.
I’d say the biggest difference between ToutApp and the other plugins in this category is that ToutApp focuses on tracking by the person rather than the email. This is a major benefit if you communicate with certain people over and over again and really want to learn which emails they respond to best.
Finally, note that ToutApp is exclusively a paid one. While they offer a 14-day free trial, there is no free level. It’s meant more for teams and professional marketers rather than those that are relatively new to the field.
9. Sidekick. This plugin was developed for Gmail by HubSpot and released as a free version (paid plan available). Just like the other plugins in this category, it tells you when and who opened your email.
On the free plan, the reporting is pretty basic and isn’t quite up to par with the other options. It’s not as easy to see overall clicks and opens over time.
The one neat feature of this plugin is customer insights. When you send an email, the Sidekick sidebar will emerge on the right of the screen and attempt to pull up relevant social media information of your contact.
Unfortunately, I found this to be really hit or miss, and often the plugin couldn’t find any information on a contact.
Boost sales with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) plugin
Despite purchasing a CRM startup a while back, I don’t write much about CRM on Quick Sprout or the NeilPatel.com blog.
That’s because CRM is for sales, not marketing. CRM tools help you track your relationships with leads and nurture them down your sales funnel.
That being said, I know that some of you are involved in both marketing and sales. Since there are some great Gmail CRM plugins, I wanted to give you a few options.
These are all fairly comprehensive tools, so the best I can do is highlight the main benefits for choosing each, and you can read up on them on your own if interested.
10. Streak. Unlike most other CRM tools, Streak is specifically designed for Gmail, which gives it an advantage over many of the best-known CRM companies.
It features a lightweight dashboard that’s built right into Gmail. You can color-code prospects as they move through each stage in your funnel.
The big reason a CRM like this is helpful is that it takes a complex set of data and puts it on an easy to see chart/spreadsheet. Even with several leads at different stages in your funnel, you won’t forget to follow up with anyone.
And while this is typically meant for sales, there’s no reason why you can’t use a similar process for building relationships with influencers.
In addition to having standard CRM features, Streak also gives you other basic business tools that you might be interested in such as:
- email support (customer service)
- project development
- bug tracking