As a marketer, you probably spend more time emailing than you realize. You’re communicating with your employees, your coworkers, and even your clients on a near-constant basis about the state your campaigns.
And if you’re like the average American worker, it’s eating up more than 6 hours of each of your workdays. The average employee gets 121 emails a day, and depending on your position, you might be getting even more than that.
Fortunately, many marketers use Gmail or G Suite, and have access to dozens of Gmail hacks and tricks that can improve efficiency in multiple dimensions – especially with the recent rollout of Gmail’s new design and functionality additions.
Here are 40 Gmail hacks and tricks every marketer should know about.
1. Un-send an email.
Marketers’ careers depend on their reputation, and that reputation can be ruined all too quickly with a misspelled name, an incorrect attachment, or God forbid, an unintentionally CC’d party. Fortunately, there’s an option to save you. In Settings, on the General tab, you’ll find an option to “Enable Undo Send.” Once toggled on, you’ll be granted with a leeway period of up to 30 seconds where you can undo an email you send before it ever reaches your intended recipients.
2. Get rid of the “Social” and “Promotions” tabs so you only have to deal with one tab.
You probably noticed some time ago that Gmail offers three main tabs for your email account by default—Primary, Social, and Promotions—which it uses to filter and sort many of your incoming emails. But if you’re like me, you’d prefer to just have everything go into one tab and not trust Gmail to determine if a message belongs in a different tab (Gmail does make mistakes, after all). To get rid of the other two tabs, head to Settings and click Configure Inbox. From there, you’ll be able to remove these tabs, add tabs like Updates (for notifications from your project management platform) and Forums (for messages from marketing forums or communities you’re a part of for demographic research), and change the order in which they appear.
3. Visualize your email activity (and your team’s).
Every online marketer knows and loves Google Analytics, and EmailAnalytics is like Google Analytics for Gmail. It provides graphs and statistics for things like how many emails you send and receive every day, who sends you the most emails, how long your average response takes, and a lot more. Use it to identify clients or vendors who are taking up most of your time, ways to improve your productivity, or to identify workload imbalances on your sales team.
4. Literally pause your inbox.
Inbox Pause is a Gmail plugin that literally adds a “pause” button to your inbox. When you click the button, you stop receiving new emails until you click it again to “unpause” your inbox, at which time all the emails you received during the time it was paused immediately hit your inbox. It’s fantastic for when you need to concentrate on a task without temptation to refresh your inbox and get distracted.
5. Add a signature to your emails (and use it for marketing!).
You probably already know about this, but in case you aren’t using it, you should be. Don’t just include your name and title in your signature – you’re a marketer, so use it as an opportunity to drive awareness of your social media profiles, your website, your latest blog post, or an eBook you wrote. To add or edit a signature, visit your Settings, then the “General” tab and scroll down to “Signature.”
6. Send an email that self-destructs.
The new version of Gmail enables emails to be sent that self-destruct after a certain amount of time. These emails also don’t allow recipients to forward the email to any other parties. To send a self-destructing email, find the icon near the “Send” button that looks like a padlock with a clock on it – that’s the new “confidential mode.” After time is up, the recipient can’t read the message anymore.
7. Send an email that requires 2-step verification to read.
“Confidential mode” also enables you to send an email that requires the recipient to enter a code texted to their phone in order to open and read the email. Perfect for that extra-layer of security when you want to be absolutely certain your email is only read by your intended recipient (and not someone who just happens to be looking at your recipient’s screen or Inbox).
8. Use your Gmail address for multiple account signups.
Here’s an interesting trick; Google will ignore any dots (.) and plus signs (+) in a Gmail email address. In other words, combinations like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and g.m+a.i+++lma…firstname.lastname@example.org will all go to the central email@example.com email address. To the average user, this is a fun parlor trick. For a marketer, this is the perfect opportunity to create multiple accounts on social media platforms that require email validation to be legitimized. It’s also one way to filter your incoming messages; for example, you could use the firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for all your content and news updates, then automatically filter all incoming messages to that variation of your address to a “news” label, so your Inbox isn’t as bogged down.
9. Add bullet points, numbered lists, bolds, italics, and more to your emails.
Marketers often have to relay lots of details in their messages, but if you send all those details lumped together in a single paragraph, you’ll increase the chances of a misunderstanding (or missed details altogether). Instead, experiment with the formatting options in the bar at the bottom of the Compose window. You’ll be able to differentiate your text with 11 different fonts, bold, italic, and underline options, as well as your text alignment, font size, and font colors. It’s an easy way to make your text more readable, and call out the most important parts of your message.
10. Quote a previous email.
If you’re relaying client feedback to one of your designers, or need to reiterate a section from a previous message, try using the quoting feature. If you click the quotation marks on the formatting bar, you’ll be able to copy any text (from another email, or practically any other source) and format it so it appears as a section of quoted material.
11. Insert photos so they display right within your email.
Marketers are often visual communicators, but it isn’t always a good idea to send photos as attachments; there’s no guarantee your clients will notice or open them. Use the photo icon at the bottom of the formatting bar to insert an image into your message instead; when you do, you’ll be able to contextualize it in the body of your message, introducing it to your recipient. This is especially valuable for showcasing design comps or explaining a website bug through screenshots.
12. Use labels to organize your emails into categories.
Did you know you can create your own custom labels, and use them to categorize your emails for easy future viewing? On the left side of your web app, find the option that says “create new label,” and name the label however you want; it will then appear, much like a folder, within that left-hand bar. You could create a new label for each of your clients, or create a label for each branch of your strategy (like SEO, social media, or content marketing).
13. Mark emails as unread after reading them.
Emails are bolded as they come in because they’re unread, and once you click on them, they’ll be counted as “read” and return to a plain format. This is the default, automatic setup, but you can use it to your advantage by manually toggling your emails as read and unread. I use “unread emails” as my to-do list – anything marked unread means it’s a task I still need to get to, so I regularly mark emails as “unread” after reading them if they represent a task I need to take action on later. Select the emails whose status you want to change and use the More button to mark them as read or unread. With this, you can keep all your task-related emails (or emails you haven’t responded to) as unread, and rest easy knowing your read emails don’t require any further action for the moment.
14. Use automatic sorting and filtering to cut down on spam, or to prevent important emails from hitting your spam.
If you’re like me, you subscribe to lots of marketing newsletters and other sources of news and content. You probably also get lots of task notifications from your project management platform of choice. These are useful at times, but can easily clog up your inbox, so use Filters to sort them into specific categories or labels. Within Settings, click on the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab, and follow the prompts to create the custom filter of your choice, selecting emails based on the sender, subject line, or other factors.
15. Start using stars and markers.
It sounds like a kindergarten craft project, but using stars and markers can be incredibly effective for marketers. Take notice of the two symbols to the left of your emails by default—you can toggle these on or off to mark a conversation as “important” in one of two different ways. Use these however is most helpful to you; for example, you could star emails that need to be done this week, and flag ones that may require your attention in the future. However you use them, they’ll help you stay more organized.
16. Teach Google how to mark your emails.
If the idea of manually organizing all your emails sounds exhausting, don’t worry—Google can learn from your past behavior to start marking certain types of emails as starred or important automatically (based on things like senders and keywords in the subject line). It’s actually on by default (though you can toggle it off in Settings). Try to be consistent with your markings, so you train Google with the right information.
17. Automatically find and unsubscribe from spam emails.
We all get a ton of spam every day, but we don’t have to. Unroll.me is a nifty tool that automatically scans and finds every subscription email list you’re on, and enables you to unsubscribe from the ones you don’t like.
18. Mute conversations.
How often have you been trapped in the CC line of a conversation between your client and your designers, or between two of your subordinates trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really involve you? The constant new email notification drive you crazy, but you usually have to wait for the thread to die on its own. But by marking the conversation thread, then using the More menu to access the Mute feature, you can stop receiving notifications for new messages in the chain.
19. Use Gmail search operators to search like a Gmail power user.
If you’re looking for a long-lost attachment, or if you can’t remember the subject line of that important client conversation thread, you’ll need to know how to use Gmail search operators to modify the parameters of your search. There are dozens of these, but as an example, you could use the “is:chat” to search only for chats (rather than chats emails), or “from:” to only display messages from a specific sender.
20. Get reminded if a recipient hasn’t replied to an email after a certain amount of time.
Whether you’re dealing with a coworker, a vendor, or a client, there’s always a risk that you’ll send an email that requires a response … but that response will never happen. This is a prime example of letting something fall through the cracks, and depending on other people to reply to your email in order to move forward with a project or initiative (or a sale) is the worst. I use Boomerang for Gmail to ensure emails never fall through the cracks; whenever I send an email that requires a response, I set a boomerang on the email so I’ll be reminded if the recipient hasn’t replied after a certain number of hours or days.