Today’s work culture is more dependent on email than ever before: The average professional receives more than 100 emails per day and sends 40. This high level of email activity raises important questions when it comes to productivity and security.
Here are some sobering statistics:
-The average worker spends 28 percent of the workweek on email activity, and 96 percent of workers report that unnecessary emails waste their time.
So, how do you boost your email productivity and security? Here are 5 tips for each:
Tips for Email Productivity
1. Automate Your Email Responses With Templates
It’s worrying how much of our time email sucks away — so much so that the average worker loses 28 percent of his/her workweek to email time sinks. Unknown to many, however, most of this can be avoided by using templates.
Depending on the purpose of your email usage, there’s likely to be a pattern in some of the messages you are sending. By creating templates that you can quickly load and send right away, or modify, you can significantly cut down on time spent crafting new email messages and increase efficiency.
2. Work on Your Email Subject Lines
How much thought do you put in your email subject lines? I’ll be honest, I usually go with what comes first to mind. It is the same with a lot of people who use email, too. However, research shows that this isn’t necessarily the best approach.
If you’ve been treating your email subject lines with levity, the following stats should scare you:
- 35 percent of people open emails based on subject line alone.
- 69 percent of people report emails as spam based on subject line alone.
In other words, using the wrong subject line won’t only significantly reduce the response you get, but it is highly likely to get it reported as spam.
So, how do you craft the best subject lines?
- Make it relevant and clear — being clever could backfire and result in your email being sent to the spam box.
- Keep it simple, stupid.
- Personalize. Research shows that personalized subject lines get a 22.2 percent open rate.
3. Get Creative With Your Email Signature
You’re not maximizing the efficiency of your email usage if you’re not using an email signature. Using an email signature can help in a lot of ways:
- It can help create awareness about your product and services.
- It can help you generate leads.
- It can help increase your social media following.
- It can be used to showcase social proof and boost trust with prospects.
- It can be used to promote your events.
What makes an email signature more effective at providing all of the above benefits is that it does it naturally. It doesn’t use an “in-your-face” approach. Instead, people see it as a natural part of your email efforts and it makes it easy to promote yourself.
It has also been established that email signatures can boost your email response rates — up to 32 percent in some cases, and tools like WiseStamp allow a lot of flexibility by giving you a huge collection of templates to choose from to maximize your email signature.
4. Finetune Your Follow Up Process
If you’ve been emailing prospects and have not been hearing back, your follow-up process is most likely playing a role. We are very busy and overwhelmed, so it is expected that many people will not respond to your first email to them. If you do nothing after this first email, then, you lose out.
Instead, follow up — and do it rightly. You can give the 3-7-7 email follow-up formula a shot. When you send an email and do not get a response, it suggests sending a follow-up email three days after the first email, then seven days after the first follow up, then seven days after the second follow up. It is based on a USC Viterbi School of Engineering study that analyzed the email habits of 2 million users and involved 16 billion emails. The study found that 90 percent of people who do not respond to an email after 48 hours will not respond again. It’s only logical to send a follow-up email immediately after.
5. Use Unroll.me to Deal With Annoying Subscription Emails
Perhaps the biggest source of email clutter is newsletters you subscribed to at a point. It can be difficult knowing which ones you need and which ones you don’t — and then the hassle of having to unsubscribe from hundreds of email newsletters manually can be a pain.
With Unroll.me, you can unsubscribe from all unwanted newsletters and combine the wanted ones into one “rollup” email that you only get once a day. A huge time saver!
Tips for Email Security
6. Enable 2-Factor Authentication
There are so many ways your email could be compromised, but most major email service providers have upgraded their systems to ensure users are protected — particularly through the use of 2-factor authentication.
With 2-factor authentication enabled, it’s impossible to access your email address with just your username and password — an additional layer of authentication through a code sent to your phone is introduced. This protects your email against a brute-force attack and makes your email more secure.
7. Use a VPN When Accessing Your Email on an Unsecured Network
It’s been repeatedly advised to avoid accessing sensitive information over unsecured wireless networks without using a VPN. The same goes for email access. If 28 percent of the work week is spent in emails, and you have to connect to the Wi-Fi on your commute or at the coffee shop, then you will inevitably access email through the public Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, this could result in you being compromised. By using a VPN, however, you can enjoy more secure access — there are sites dedicated to reviewing the best VPN services, including exposing those with shady practices so you know which you to avoid. You can take things further and encrypt your actual email messages using PGP by following this guide by Lifehacker.
8. Avoid Opening Attachments from Unknown (and Known!) Sources
Hackers are getting sophisticated, and one of the major ways malware and ransomware infect computers is through email attachments.
Avoid opening ANY attachment from unknown sources no matter how urgent it seems. When it comes to opening attachment from known sources, only do this after careful review — hackers often take over email accounts of people and use them to send a message to all their contacts in order to “phish” their accounts.
9. Be Careful About Clicking Links in Emails
If you get an urgent email asking you to click a link to update sensitive information on an important site within 24 hours, that you didn’t request for, it is most likely a phishing email. In fact, if you get any urgent email asking you to click a link and provide sensitive information, it is most likely a phishing email. Avoid clicking these links. If in doubt, visit the website in question and contact their representatives to see if the email originated from them. Alternatively, type the URL directly in your browser if you really have to update.
10. Setup Automatic Email Forwarding
There’s the possibility that you’ll be inevitably hacked. Ebay was hacked. Target was hacked. Yahoo was hacked. So even if you did your best, as a mere mortal, you should have a mindset that you could be hacked at any time.
In the event that you are hacked, recovering your email address is one thing. Losing all of your email content is another. The solution is to set up automatic email forwarding to another email address for backup purposes. Should you ever be compromised, this other email address will help you get access to all your essential emails.
Robert Mening is a web consultant and founder of the Website Setup project, where he has helped over 25,000 people create their own websites.