Managing an email program is no small task, even if you’re a pro. Depending on whether you’re working for a large or small company (or yourself) you may have designers, writers, directors, customer service, and a dozen other things to manage. Or, if your shop is small, you may get to wear all those hats.
No matter what your situation, there are a bunch of tools and tricks to help. Here’s 25 of my favorites.
Tame Your Inbox
Email marketers tend to like email. We tend to be signed up for a lot of newsletters. Too many newsletters. One of these tools might free up a lot of time.
1. Try Unroll.me
There are dozens of different apps for managing an inbox, but Unroll.me makes more people’s lists than any other app I’ve seen. This tool will wrangle all your email subscriptions (I had 718 subscriptions!) into a rollup of the emails you want to keep, and a one click subscribe for the ones you don’t.
2. Test Followup.cc
Followup.cc is another email management tool that gets high marks from the likes of Forbes, Mashable and LifeHacker. There is a free trial, so you can take a spin at sorting and scheduling your emails. One idea for how to immediately benefit from this tool: Schedule your emails so no one sees you’re working at 2am.
3. Consider MailBoxApp.com
MailBoxApp.com is yet another inbox management app, but it is especially mobile-friendly, and some people prefer it to other inbox apps mentioned on this list. The paid inbox management app Sanebox is also worth a look.
Create Content Faster
4. Use a content calendar or an editorial calendar.
Keep calm and plan on. Having a clear schedule of when each part of every email you send is due makes life much easier. There are a number of editorial/content calendar tools.
You can go super low-tech and use an Excel sheet (or far better, a shareable Google Drive spreadsheet), or scale up a little and use the free WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin. The free project management tool Trello can also be tweaked to serve as a content calendar. Want more features? Upgrade to paid services like Gather Content or Kapost.
If your email program has a lot of moving parts, you may want a deluxe tool like Gather Content or Kapost to keep everything on track.
5. Use an email template.
Templates rock. If you aren’t using them already, just adding this trick to your repertoire can cut your production time a lot.
There’s a ninja trick here, though. You can use more than one template. You probably send out more than one email (for example: the blog post format email, the sale format email, the holiday format email). That means you could be saving each kind of email you send as a template.
Templates are also a snap to create. Just hover over the “Save and exit” button in the top right corner of your email message editor and select “Save as my template”.
6. Have a backup email message queued up.
Sometimes the highest levels of productivity are served by being ready when disaster strikes. Almost every major blogger has one or two posts set aside for weeks when it’s just not possible to get their blog post done.
Leverage this trick for yourself: Have one nice evergreen email message written, designed and ready to be sent out at a moment’s notice. If some part of your email production system fails, having a backup message like this can make you look awfully smart.
7. Learn Evernote.
Evernote pretty much wins the prize for most-recommended productivity tool. It’s great for email marketers because it lets you capture and organize information for upcoming campaigns. But that’s just first gear for Evernote. To get started, spend a little time on Cameron Plommer’s Evernote video tutorials, try the free tutorials on Grovo.com, or the paid ones on Lynda.com.
8. Make images faster – and better.
Use Canva.com to make attractive images fast. Use Pinwords.com or MemeCreator.org to make funny images or images with quotes. Want to spice up your email with an animated gif? Head over to http://gifmaker.me/ and make one in 3 minutes, max.
Caption: Emails need images. Pinwords is one of the tools available to help you make beautiful images fast.
Social media updates need some automation. Buffer is an easy way to do it. There’s a free plan to get you started, or a paid plan once you decide to use it all the time.
10. Use If This Then That.
If you thought Buffer was cool for automating social media, you’ll love If This Then That. IFTTT lets you create “recipes” which are basically if then statements applied to your online accounts. You can do things like automatically have all Gmail attachments sent to your Google Drive account, find your phone, or follow breaking Fantasy Football news via iOS Notifications.
Every one of us probably has ten or more routine tasks we could automate with IFTTT. If there’s any drawback to this tool, it’s that it might be too powerful.
11. Use Zapier.
Zapier is similar to IFTTT, but it lets apps and online tools talk to each other. One of the apps it can integrate is your GetResponse account. So if you want to create a form on your site with multiple choice selections, you can set Zapier up to add people to a specific campaign in your GetResponse account based on how they filled out that form.
Here’s how to use Zapier in GetResponse.
12. Automate Google analytics reports.
Some bosses like to see a traffic report, or an advertising report every morning at 9am. Take an hour to automate those reports so you can do something better with your time.
13. Go to Fiverr, WorkHub or FancyHands.com. Find one task to delegate.
Delegation is productivity on steroids. Whether you need to transcribe meeting notes, edit a video or gather up a list of the nicest things your customers have said about you on social media, one of these sites can help.
Don’t be afraid to delegate, even if it’s a few tiny tasks a week.
14. Do a Pomodoro.
How much can you get done in a 25-minute work session? More than you’d think. If you tend to procrastinate, the Pomodoro technique might be your saving grace. Basically, the Pomodoro technique is a productivity and work management system where you work with 100% focus for 25 minutes, then take a short break. Then you do another 25-minute block.
The TomatoTimer is a super-simple, free website that lets you try out the Pomodoro technique.
15. Write or Die.
If you’re especially troubled with writing deadlines, check out WriteOrDie.com, which gives you a timer, a target word count and a “consequence mode”. If you miss your writing goal, the screen turns red, an alarm goes off, and scary creatures appear.
16. Get Selfcontrol.
Got a Facebook addiction? Or maybe it’s Twitter… or sports, or an upcoming wedding. The free SelfControl app can block any site you want for as long as you want. It will be hard at first, but there is life beyond that website.
17. Learn more Excel shortcuts.
Email marketers tend to have a lot of data to manage. Usually that means a lot of work in Excel. If you’re going to use Excel a lot, why not become a power user? An hour or so spent learning some Excel shortcuts can easily net out to nearly a day’s worth of working time saved.
18. Learn Photoshop shortcuts.
Yes, this is very similar to the tip above, but Photoshop has shortcuts too. Learn some.
19. Learn some Outlook or Gmail shortcuts.
More shortcuts means more efficiency. Plus, you’ll look really smart as you blaze through the 200+ emails you get per day.
20. Use Dropbox or file storage to get some files off your computer
Optimizing your computer can make a huge difference. We all get lazy about how much is on our hard drives. Dropbox, Mozy, Google Drive or any of the other large file storage and backup services will do. And talk about saving time… when was the last time you backed up your hard drive?
Collaborate & Plan
21. Use Trello
It’s free, easy to use and effective for organizing projects and teams. Trello makes most lists of essential productivity tools. If you’re not using it yet, it deserves a quick review.
22. Try to cancel one meeting this week.
Depending on which source you cite, the average worker spends 20 to 40% or more of their workweek in meetings. Is there just one meeting this week you can cancel? Is there one regular meeting you can devise a way to get out of? Could any one of the tools listed here (or elsewhere) make it so your meeting is no longer necessary?
This is an all-purpose productivity tool. It’s free, and you get a nice series of how to videos the moment you sign up. Many people love it. You can collaborate with other users, search your account, add links & images and do plenty of other things. If Evernote just isn’t your thing, try Workflowy.
24. Snag It
Sometimes words just don’t cut it. SnagIt lets you grab and manipulate images and videos quickly. It lets you create videos in a snap and collaborate with distant co-workers as if they were standing over your shoulder, watching your screen. There’s also the very similar Jing.com, if SnagIt isn’t your fancy.
25. Create a short list of simple tasks to do when you’re exhausted or burned out or can’t do anything else
No one operates at maximum performance at all times. But certain tasks require you to be at your best. So be at your best for those demanding tasks, but have a list of dumbed down work for when you’re not feeling like a rockstar.
Low energy tasks can be billing, queuing tweets, filing or watering a plant – whatever needs to be done. Being able to get something simple done when you would otherwise just drool at a harder task frees up those precious limited hours of peak performance.
I know I’ve missed a few gems. What’s your secret email productivity trick?