Many of us are forced to run our lives through email due to its sheer expansiveness. It’s our default business communication tool, appointment scheduler and project manager. In fact, professionals spend on average 28 percent of their time reading and answering emails, according to a McKinsey study.
While instant messaging tools like Slack and Hipchat are starting to turn the tide for internal teams, even Slack founder Stewart Butterfield admitted to using email for all his external communication.
Our team uses Gmail for Work, part of the online productivity suite Google Apps. I know many of the up-and-coming accounting firms out there do as well (so does accounting software company Xero).
We’ve seen just about every Gmail plugin available in our efforts to get to inbox zero. So with that experience, I wanted to give my 5 favorite free Gmail plugins to supercharge your email.
Assistant.to is the best free plugin I’ve used in regards to scheduling. While I was formerly a user of ScheduleOnce, I couldn’t bear the thought of spending $20/month on something I used so infrequently, making Assistant.to the perfect fit.
By integrating with your email and calendar, Assistant.to allows users to select any number of free meeting times and drop them straight into outgoing emails. The recipient can select any one of the options and the meeting automatically shows up on both calendars. This application is still very young, but I love the path Assistant.to is on.
Do you remember the early days of Rapportive, the simple email plugin that would give you loads of social information about contacts you were about to email? After their Linkedin acquisition, Rapportive has become a shell of itself. However, Discover.ly has recently appeared to take over that spot by providing much of the same information right in your inbox.
With Discover.ly’s chrome widget you can see relevant info and social connections about email contacts, even if you’ve never met them before. Discover.ly is perfect for discovering useful connections for possible sales and marketing targets and with the price of free, it’s hard not to give it a try.
Feel like you’re getting weighed down by the long list of newsletters you have signed up for throughout the years? That’s exactly what Unroll.me is for. Connect Unroll.me to your Gmail account and get an entire list of your subscriptions. With unroll.me you can receive all of your email subscriptions once, anytime you’d like with the “daily rollup” feature. That way you can easily read (or ignore) all of those product updates or “37 ways to change your life” emails on your own time.
Clientele helps you stay on top of your follow-ups like Boomerang, but over time Clientele will learn your contacts’ response habits and begin reminding you of the best times to follow-up with no work involved.
With enough data Clientele will be able to tell you the best time to email your contacts, how long they typically take to respond, and how often you have to follow-up before receiving what you need. All of that information is used to score your entire list of contacts (or clients) so you can easily stay on top of present tasks and avoid future issues.
Many marketers are using open and link tracking services these days. Plugins like Yesware and Tout (a favourite among our team) have become musts for those of us looking to work our sales pipeline. However, Sidekick provides much of the same functionality for none of the cost.
Sidekick was created by Hubspot, long-time masters in the digital marketing space. Sidekick’s useful opened email notifications and link tracking allows you to quickly plan your next move. With their intent to add “scheduled” emails as a feature, I could see Sidekick undercutting a lot of higher-end platforms typically out of reach of SMBs and solopreneurs due to the high cost.
Some Extra Mobile Goodies
I wanted to provide some cool up-and-coming mobile applications that productivity junkies will love. While widgets work great on your computer, they’re typically not accessible on tablet or phone operating systems.
Many of you probably know of Mailbox, which dominated the inbox zero movement just over a year ago. But other apps like Humin and Accompli are tackling cumbersome mobile issues like contact management, calendars, and attachments.
Our team tried each over the last several months and loved the functionality, design, and ease of use. With the way things seem to be going and the explosive growth of mobile devices, we expect many other competitors to pop up in the near future.
If you have some plugins you love to use that I didn’t mention, from one productivity junkie to another, I’d love to hear what you got!