I remember life before the internet was a thing. I also remember the internet being birthed into existence. The days of sitting in front of my family’s Apple computer screen – listening to the dial tone and waiting for the internet to connect – were exciting times! The world was on the brink of something that would eventually change the way we do just about everything. As a high schooler, I primarily used the internet for IM chats, email and MySpace to chime in with music creators and other angsty teenagers sharing their feelings in the digital space for the first time (Did you know that MySpace is still around?!?! Yeah, I didn’t either. However, it turns out they didn’t save my high school MySpace account. Anyone else have memories like this?
My first email account was email@example.com (Vanessa is hard for a toddler to say, so Sessa was the nickname my brother coined me with when he was learning to talk.). It turns out AOL.com is also still around. OK…I really need to stop distracting myself with all these trips down my digital memory lane! Anyway, I moved on from AOL and eventually adopted a Yahoo email account, which I still use today for my personal email. At this point, every account I have is associated with this email so the idea of changing feels a bit daunting to me. But, since using Gmail exclusively for my business I’m getting closer and closer to being ready to make the switch and go all in.
Gmail has 1.5 billion users and counting. Not only that, but all Gmail users have access to GSuite which has a host of features that we aren’t going to get into in this particular blog post. I often hear the question from new VA’s (and other small business owners) if using the paid version of Gmail is worth the cost. YES…100% YES! Using the paid account with a customized domain name (I use GoDaddy but there are loads of options most of which are less than $5 your first year) for your business is huge value for $6 per month (if you do a quick internet search so you can also usually find a coupon code for 20% off your first year making it only $4.80 per month). BAM! For less than a fancy beverage from Starbucks you now have a professional email account that gives you room to grow as your business grows.
I’m sure that every one of you reading this has an email account and knows how to send emails like a BOSS. In today’s post we are doing to dig into a few features and add-ons that I have found to really help you master your inbox and maximize your flow.
Did you know that you can create template emails in your Gmail account. This is a lesser known feature but if you are finding yourself sending the same email more than three times, this feature is AWESOME because it keeps you from having to draft that email over and over again or from having to copy and paste it from a Google Doc. I have a series on my IGTV called #featurefridays where you can check out my video on how to create templates in Gmail. This feature will literally change your life!
#2 Schedule Send
Do you have reminder emails that need to go out, want to send a birthday message, or information that you want to make sure gets sent at a certain time? You can schedule your emails to be sent at your preferred schedule day and/or time. This is also a great feature if you are working through emails after hours but want them to hit your coworkers’ or clients’ inboxes during normal business hours. You simply click on the arrow next to the SEND button and select Schedule send. Once your email is scheduled you can find it in the left side bar of your Gmail account.
#3 Send Safely
If you are a #mompreneur or solopreneur like I am, you probably aren’t part of a secure network. Yet, sometimes, you need to send information or documents securely. I use a free program called Send Safely. You can download a Chrome extension and you can also have it overlay in your Gmail account so using this feature is as easy as sending any other email.
Do you need a way to manage your prospects and emails coming in from your clients but aren’t ready to make the investment in a paid CRM (client relationship manager)? Streak is a great option! Streak overlays in your Gmail account, kind of like a spreadsheet, and can house all of your emails from a particular person, business or organization in one place through creating “boxes” and tagging them. You can also track where your prospects are in their process by creating pipelines. In the pipeline you can add To Do items to automatically add to your Gmail calendar which will remind you when those tasks are due.
You may also want to track if an important email has been received and/or read. Unfortunately, Gmail doesn’t offer read receipts as a built-in feature. Streak allows you to track if an email has been viewed or not and when the last time it was viewed was so you can decide the best way to follow-up.
Streak has a slight learning curve but their support team is really helpful and their tutorials are great! If you happen to have a team working alongside you, Streak also allows team members to view the same boxes for your prospects and clients so you can all be in the know without having to forward and cc all those emails. One of the best features about Streak is that is works entirely in your inbox so you don’t have to leave to go to log into another site to get the information you need
Looking for a beautiful custom email signature? I use Wisestamp. Wisestamp will integrate with your Gmail account and plug-in your custom signature directly into your account. You can even add an animated closing remark!
Those are my top 5 favorite features for making the most of my Gmail account. I’d love to know what features you use to optimize your Gmail account. Share in the comments below. Maybe I’ll even add it to one of my #featurefridays on IGTV!
Vanessa Anne Lawson
June 9, 2020