How to Weed Through Your Email: Which Ones Make you Money?

Does your email make you money or cost you time? Susan Naylor, developer of  “Time Management w/ The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner” just posted some findings of a survey she did that stated that “over 52% of the respondents reported that procrastinating and distractions were their biggest challenges in managing their time.”

At Symbol used in email addressesEmail Use

Email is one of the key ways we communicate with each other on a professional, business, and personal level. With the advent of texting, email is becoming the new “snail mail”, yet it is still faster than sending a letter by post and less time consuming then sitting down for a chat on the phone. Here are some common business uses for email.

  • send instructions
  • confirmation
  • stay connected
  • follow up programs
  • stay-in-touch programs
  • reminders
  • schedule
  • links to membership sites
  • invitations
  • share information

Some of these uses are for operations and some are for sales and marketing. Each has a different tone and uses a different way of communicating to the end audience. As a writer for over 16 years, my favourite motto is “know your audience” and this is true for email as well.

We’re going to look at general email used your business to determine what three things you can do right to make your time more productive and ultimately make you more money.

Clock showing 12:45Costing You Time

Email is recognized as one of the biggest time wasters we have in business. It is a necessity but it is misused. Anything that takes away from your marketing or your client work is not bringing you in money so let’s start by setting some boundaries around email that will help you focus.

Turn off you automatic email pickup. I don’t know about you, but every time a message comes into my outlook account and I see that message trailer pop up in the corner I am distracted. Like a mini-movie I want to know what it is, what did that person want, what is new, etc.  I almost always have to look.

There is a book I read some years ago, dealing with project management in the software industry. (I have looked and I cannot find the name of it anywhere). They had some interesting statistics around interruptions in work and found that productivity of a person stopped when they were interrupted by another person. The interesting thing was how long it took them to get back on track after that person had left. It is 30  to 45 minutes. Can you imagine if you were interrupted once an hour you may one get 2 hours of productive time in an 8 hour day. Email is like that annoying office socialite that makes their rounds to talk to people at work. You have to find a way to ignore it when you are busy being productive making money and then address it when it is appropriate.

I just got a new Android phone. Somehow I turned on the “text to Voice” function and every time I get a new email the phone yells to me “you have 7 new emails”. This is a new distraction I had to change quickly. As I was writing this article I almost stopped what I was doing to download my new messages. I was strong and abstained.

I personally check my email 4 times a day as a scheduled pickup (start of day, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, late-afternoon). I also check in between activities and I will check more often if I’m in a project and waiting to hear from people. This one tip has freed up swaths of hours of my time to be totally productive. Yours does not have to be as rigid, but I challenge you to at least make it manual so you are not getting the automatic interruptions every 5 seconds. The more productive you are the more money you can make.

I also recommend that you respond to email in those same set times but that you compose email for ongoing work as needed, especially if the email copy is for marketing. So know your email use to determine when you should be touching it.

invest in productive time and you will make more money

Invest in productive time and you will make more money

Making You Money

The best time for email depends on the reason for use.

Non-Money Generating Activities

Email that is used for operations is not usually a money generating activities. Some of the uses that fit in this category are:

  • send instructions
  • confirmation
  • reminders
  • schedule
  • links to membership sites

If you are sending an email as part of a process within your company, a reminder for a current client to come to a meeting, a confirmation of acceptance, updates to forums or any automated membership messages, these are not the type of activities that generate business. These are the activities that provide good client service and a great experience.

Money Generating Activities

Activities in your business that generate new clients, purchases, and money are those in your sales and marketing programs. Connecting with prospects, sending information to clients for other products, inviting people to an event, these are the messages that interest people to purchase from you.

  • stay connected
  • follow up programs
  • stay-in-touch programs
  • invitations
  • share information

Making email a part of your stay-in-touch program will also allow you to automate some of your follow up process with past clients. Don’t let them forget you.

Marketing and Sales are so critical to your business that these are the activities you should not be distracted from. So do not pick up email while you are scheduled to do marketing. Writing copy for a newsletter, email invitation to an event, or other marketing activities are well worth the time you set aside each day to do them.

Conclusion – Do These Three Things

  1. Stop the automatic email pickup – do it manually at appropriate scheduled times
  2. Do operational email during the scheduled email pickup times (unless critical communications are required)
  3. Do marketing and sales email in between the mail pickup times. Marketing is a critical activity in your business and you should be investing 30 minutes to 4 hours a day in marketing activities (or more if your company is larger).

Focus on the email that must get out. This will help you to sell your projects and services. Check your other email in between so you can stay more productive. Now I’m off to check my email before my phone interrupts me again.

How has email made you money in the past or how has it cost you time? I welcome your comments.

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