5 Tips for Being Great at Email in 2020

Hey TMBA Community, Alex from Dynamite Jobs here. Dan and Ian did a 35-minute livestream on ‘How to Be Great at Email in 2020’. I’ve summarized their five tips in this post. If you’d like to hear more details on this, check out the full video of the discussion below. Please let us know what you think and what other topics you’d like the guys to cover! Check out all the guys’ livestreams here.

Here’s a bold statement: email is still where most business is taking place.

Despite teams adopting project management tools and more platforms for communicating, email is still the center of business in 2020. It’s highly probable that the importance of email will continue to endure.

Because of this, why not master the email game in 2020?

This isn’t about ‘Inbox Zero’, ‘Batching’, ‘The Email Game’, or hacks. These are actionable strategies to make email work for you.

5 Tips

  1. Hire Great People to Manage the Emails from Important Cash Registers (6:32 )
  2. Do a Daily ‘High Energy Triage’ (13:35)
  3. Implement a Super Signature (17:17)
  4. Set Clear Guidelines with Your Team and Frequent Contacts (20:11)
  5. The Art of ‘Letting Little Bad Things Happen’ (24:01)

1. Hire Great People to Manage the Emails from Important Cash Registers (6:32 )

A ‘Cash Register’ is defined as an established cash flow in your business. It usually has a strong marketing presence and is a place where people enter to inquire about your business. A dedicated team member should handle these promptly and profitably.

The Value of Responsiveness

That team member should respond as fast as is reasonable (and in some cases, faster). This responsibility can’t be left up to you as the entrepreneur because of its importance and time sensitivity. Nick Huber of Storage Squad advocates this as one of his company’s strongest value propositions as most service businesses are relatively slow to respond.

But what if your emails require so much consideration that you can’t get back to everyone within 24 hours?

This can be addressed by:

  • Improving your marketing and messaging
  • Productizing your service more
  • Adding margin into your quotes to account for mistakes made from speed
  • Buying time by letting prospects know you’re addressing their inquiry and setting expectations for when you will reply, for example: “This is a pretty complex problem but I’m putting some ideas together, I’ll talk with my team, and get back to you within 36 hours.”

Your service should be defined enough to limit inquiries as well as make it easy for a team member to quickly help and share value in an email reply.

2. Do a Daily ‘High Energy Triage’ (13:35)

When you’re feeling the most creative energy, get to the emails that require it. Many people find this is the first thing in the morning but if you’re a night owl, that can work too.

Attacking the important emails early can also help reduce anxiety and set the tone for the day. This method is also beneficial to your team as a whole. These are some of the most important communications you’re receiving and investing in. Give your team members the answers and focus they deserve when developing team priorities through email.

3. Implement a ‘Super Signature’ (17:17)

Almost every business email has an email signature, but few are worth reading. Why not have a ‘Super Signature’ and make yours stand out? This idea was introduced to our team by Coran Woodmass of the FBA Broker.

A ‘Super Signature’ invites the recipient to further engage with you in the way you want them to. This can be done with more resources, an incentive, or a call-to-action, usually added as a ‘P.S.’

Here are three examples of a ‘Super Signature’:

Not sure what to include? Make it a mini direct-response offer with some fun. Add this into your automatic email signature settings and update it every few weeks or months.

4. Set Clear Guidelines with Your Team and Frequent Contacts (20:11)

Ask yourself if the problems in your inbox are really a symptom of problems with your relationships with the senders. One way to ease the number of emails is to set expectations with your team and frequent contacts about how to connect with you. For example, receiving messages on social media about work is not always appropriate. If an email was sent to you that would have been better served as a Slack message, or vice versa, let the sender know.

Here are the expectations our company has set for sending messages:

  • If you have the expectation that everyone is going to read it, send it as an email (for example a policy change or big suggestion).
  • If you send it on Slack, don’t automatically assume it will be seen.
  • You can set expectations on your contact page.

Setting rules doesn’t just solve the problem. Sometimes the important info we send each other still gets lost behind the cat gifs, but we are actively communicating about how to improve. It’s ‘called work in progress’.

Discussing these messaging expectations also leads to more mindfulness. Team members may think twice before sharing something. Communication within a team is essential, but the right mindset can lead to consolidated communication, and less overall messages.

5. The Art of ‘Letting Little Bad Things Happen’ (24:01)

Communication platforms are designed to tug at your heartstrings and get your attention. But just because someone formulated an inquiry doesn’t mean they automatically deserve your time or energy. As an entrepreneur, not succumbing to poor bargains can free your energy.

This sounds discourteous, but that’s the art of Letting Little Bad Things Happen. The more your business becomes successful and your profile grows, the more some people may think negative things about you, sometimes you just have to suck it up.

However, it is not always clear if an email deserves your attention or should be ignored. If you’re struggling with whether or not to reply, follow the ‘Half-Life of Email Theory.’ This suggests that an email’s importance decreases by 50% every day until, after seven days, the email can be deleted and the issue has been sorted. This can help entrepreneurs determine the difference between ‘urgent’ and ‘important’. If something is truly important, the sender will most likely follow up or accept a response a week later. Keep in mind this shouldn’t apply to emails that make you money (see rule #1, it’s #1 fo reason).

This concept can be taken even further with ‘email bankruptcy’. Imagine what would happen if you deleted all the emails in your inbox. The most important issues might once again rise to the surface and the other noise will be given a chance to dissipate.

BONUS TIP: Keep Your Tools as Simple as Possible (27:13)

Use Only a Few Folders
Don’t get distracted with various sorting and processes. If you must organize your emails beyond the inbox, choose just a few folders to do so. If you’re worried about losing track of an email, remember that the search tool within email programs has become very powerful. As long as you ‘archive’, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to simply retrieve that email later on.

Single Sheet of Paper
A simple way to organize your most important tasks for the day is with a single sheet of paper. Write down your three most important things to do. If there are additional things you’d like to accomplish that day, write them below as ‘aspirational tasks’ that you’ll get to after completing the three most important ones.

Email Notes and Ideas to Yourself
When you come across something you’d like to revisit, email it to yourself. Use your inbox to gather these ideas. When you are later assessing the emails, you can then decide how to sort them and if they still deserve your attention.

This app is great for setting reminders to follow up with emails you’ve sent. Google Calendar can also be used for this, but it can be nice to keep things within your inbox. If you’re not interested in adding a new tool, Gmail has added more functions within its program to set reminders.

Undo Send
This is another add-on for Gmail or can be activated through Gmail’s settings. The ability to cancel a sent email 5-10 seconds after sending can be life-saver.

Gmail Shortcuts
Spending a few minutes to learn Gmail shortcuts on your keyboard can add up to hours saved in the long term. Pin the shortcut page to your browser and refer to it each time you’re working in your inbox.

What are your tips for being great at email in 2020? Or are we wrong and email isn’t that important to you? Let us know in the comments!

Here’s the full discussion:

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