TBT 95 | Managing Your Emails

 

Email can be such a challenge for people in terms of the number of emails that they receive every day. A study that was done that tells us that reading and responding to email can take as much as 28% to 35% of our work week. That’s huge! Imagine if you could get back just a fraction of that to work on the things that are most important in your business. On today’s show, Penny Zenker talks with Harsh Vardhan, the Content Manager at Hiver, a B2B product that simplifies email collaboration for Gmail and G Suite users, about what they actually do at Hiver to support you to manage your email box more effectively so you can spend more time on the things that are most important to you.

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Managing Your Emails With Harsh Vardhan

I am super excited to talk about a key topic around Take Back Time. One that is a stressor and at the same time a productivity booster. That’s our technology around email and how we manage email. I know it’s the bane of some people’s existence. I had met someone who said they had 5,000 unread emails. I’m like, “What? How can this happen?” If you’re struggling to get to inbox zero and it seems like a never-ending struggle. Maybe it’s the number that you have incoming, whatever it is. Email is a challenge for a lot of different people. Not only that but it can be a huge distraction because people are checking their email 150 times a day. That’s what the latest study was that I saw.

We’re going to be talking about email. A particular study that was done by Hiver and Harsh Vardhan is here with us. He is going to give us some insight into this study and into tools like Hiver that are going to be able to help you to manage your email better. He is a seasoned content marketer for tech products working with SaaS. He is a content marketer and he works with the Hiver. That’s a B2B product that simplifies email collaboration for Gmail and G Suite users. He works with the content. He does strategy creation, distribution, partnerships. He also does product marketing with a website and collateral and case studies. He does search engine optimization and also drip and onboarding email life cycle. He knows a lot about how to use email for marketing. He’s our specialist for this episode. Harsh, welcome to the show.

How are you guys?

What prompted you guys to do this study around email and how people are using it and what challenges they’re having?

We realize that everyone gets a large number of emails every day. A lot of them are emails that you cannot avoid. A lot of them are emails from companies that we purchase products from. A lot of them are from your vendors who send your receipts. These are emails that you cannot do without but at the same time a lot of emails come to you only because you are CC’d on a tread which you don’t need or an email is forwarded to you for the lack of other options in an email. Let’s say for example, when you have to delegate a task to someone. The only way to do this is by forwarding that email to the other person.

When you have to announce something to the entire company, you generally hit an email to Everyone@company.com. These are a couple of ways of cluttering people’s inboxes. We thought we go in and deep dive into how people use email and what percentage of emails in a person’s inbox are the ones that have been forwarded to them are the ones that they had been CC’d on. These are emails that they might or might not need but they still have to spend time clearing these emails, sorting them out. You wanted to understand how irresponsible use of email adds to the clutter that we’re already dealing with daily. That was the aim of the report. How many forwarded emails come to you daily, you pay cognizance to the fact that we should stop forwarding emails for no reason inside companies.

Having data does matter. Having this data and understanding how these emails are being used and misused is important. You’ve made an important point. I want to highlight for everyone is when everything is loaded into that inbox. We have vendors. We have clients, we have employees, we have family and friends, and everything is coming into one inbox. How we organize and sort things and how we deal with our email is important because otherwise it can quickly get overwhelming and not have clarity as to which things are most important and which things aren’t.

Managing Your Emails: It’s ingrained in the culture of most companies to CC a lot of employees even when they don’t need information.

 

One of the most surprising things we discovered was that people did not even open 40% of the emails they received. They see something and they delete.

They don’t even open 40%. It is a huge number. I’ve seen that in other studies as well. That’s a valid number. If you go to any other type of mail automation tool, they’ll tell you the same thing that for email marketers when they’re sending out, that even more than 40% of people don’t read their emails. They’re overloaded. They don’t know what to do with it, so they push it off or leave it in their inbox. How do we avoid that? That could be an important message.

That’s why we conducted this study to understand what kind of emails are hitting people’s inboxes because of this distraught. You’re reading emails. You stop clicking on these emails altogether. We had an inkling that some common problems that people face on a lot of forwarded emails and a lot of emails are they’re CC’d on. It’s ingrained in the culture of most companies to CC a lot of employees even when they don’t need information. You finished working on something and you replied to a teammate and you keep your bosses in CC to let them know that you’ve finished working on the emails.

It’s called CYA. Why are we spending so much time and wasting other people’s time on CYA, on Covering Your Arse? Tell me some other interesting statistics that came out of the study?

Close to 8% of emails that people receive in their inboxes are the ones that they have been copied on. They’ve been CC’d on it. All of these emails do open 84% of them but they reply to only 19%, which means if an email is important to you, if it’s more than just an FYI, you read an email and you reply to it. That’s a decent way of saying that email was useful to you because you ended up replying to it. When you reply to only 19% of emails that you’re CC’d on, it’s a clear indication that you did not need those emails in the inbox in the first place. This is about CC and you also realized that a lot of emails in your inboxes are, once that had been forwarded to you, 13% of emails people receive are forwarded to them.

They end up opening 70% but reply to 20%. Another very interesting area is group emails. A background, every company has these email addresses like info@ or support@ or sales@ which typically receive a large number of emails every day. What happens is everyone who’s a part of these groups, all of these emails come into their primary inboxes. They might or might not need these emails. The segment that we solve it, these guys are people who are a part of a lot of shared inboxes, the inbox that we spoke of, SupportThatCompany.com. The 51% of emails that these guys received were group emails and these are emails coming to the primary inboxes.

What does that mean? How is that productive or less productive when they come into this group email?

Irresponsible use of email adds to the clutter that we already dealing with on a daily basis. Click To Tweet

It’s a clear sign that you don’t need that many emails because you end up replying to only 14% of them, which is a small number. We need a way to manage these team inbox as well so that these emails only reach two people who are responsible for them. Let’s say there are five people in the support team and everyone receives a copy of the same email but only one person is willing to act on it. Everyone would have to log into the support inbox to see how many emails arrive there. This is exactly the problem that Hiver, the company that I worked for. This is exactly the problem that we solve. We bring these shared inboxes inside the Gmail inbox that you use every day. Your primary inbox would receive only those emails that have been assigned to you. You get a notification that a certain email has been assigned to you by your team manager and you can go and access that. You don’t have to log into the shared inbox every single day and they don’t check out all these emails.

It handles your workflow for you. You can work more efficiently. It’s taking Gmail and G Suite and making it into a workflow tool. Is that what I’m understanding?

It makes Gmail work for teamwork and collaboration. It helps you assign emails to your teammate. It helps you keep a tab on how far along are they while working on these emails. It helps you do internal discussions without having to write more emails. It keeps clutter at bay because when you want to discuss something with the teammate, the only way to do that is by sending them another email. I will let you do those things. It makes it done these discussions email-free. It helps you assign emails to other people on your team, all without having to write another email, all without having to forward the email to someone or CC-ing someone. This is what Hiver does. It makes email collaborative, which it works in which it isn’t. In its natural form. It’s a fundamental form. Email does not work for teamwork.

What visuals does it provide so that you can use it in that way? If I’m in my inbox, how does it change what my visual is when I’m in?

What Hiver does is it integrates into your Gmail neatly. It doesn’t change your Gmail at all. Your Gmail keeps looking the way it was before you started using Hiver. Only when something is assigned to you, you get a small notification at the top of your inbox, you click on it and you land on that email. Your email keeps looking the same as it was before Hiver. That’s the beauty of Hiver. It doesn’t change your interface. There’s nothing new to learn when you start using Hiver. It functions as Gmail.

That’s important. What if you can get hung up on, “It’s changing my entire interface so I have to change the way that I work?” They’re pretty much going to see the same interface and have these added features.

It’s the same. All it ever does is it adds a couple of buttons to your inbox and nothing else. It doesn’t change the interface at all.

TBT 95 | Managing Your Emails

Managing Your Emails: We need a way to manage team inbox so that these emails only reach the people who are responsible for them.

 

Is there any side of dashboards or analytics that I can see that give me an extended view?

For example, when you’re running a support team, you would want to know how your team is doing on managing emails. How much time do they take to respond to the email, the first response time? How much time do they take to close an email? Hiver lets you do all of these things right from Gmail again without having even to open another tab. When you’re using Hiver, you can see how your team does on these things without opening a new tab. It adds up a bunch of new options to your left-hand panel inside Gmail where your inbox and sent items and drafts, everything. Hiver adds the shared boxes, such as support or operations to your native Gmail menu.

I also understand that there are some features like sending then as it’s closed, if this is used as a workflow to pass it along. You can also send a quick survey back to the customer to find out whether they were satisfied with the support that they know is correct.

Hiver lets you add surveys at the end of your emails that you send out to your customers and they can let you know whether they’re satisfied with the resolution or not.

In addition to helping to keep the clutter at bay, it’s also creating a workflow productivity tool out of your regular Gmail and G Suite account.

Exactly because without Hiver, people will keep forwarding emails to each other, writing more emails to each other and CC-ing people when they want their teammates to have access to the same information. When you use Hiver, everyone on the team has access to all the emails at the same time. Even if you’re not CC’d on an email or even when an email has not been forwarded to you, you could still go and view that email and view the entire email thread.

The benefit here is that if somebody’s sick, it’s not sitting in their account and that doesn’t get worked on because that person’s not in the office that day.

An average professional receives close to 180 emails every day. Click To Tweet

You got access to all the emails that this person who’s not well. Every email that this person was supposed to work on, you can go and start replying to them or start resolving them without having them to forward the email to you.

There was a number that I saw in there about the pure number of emails that were coming in per day on average. What was that number?

An average professional receives close to 180 emails every day.

That’s a lot of emails to manage. To be able to manage it in a better way like this and also to get greater clarity on some of them you don’t even need. How do you even filter them even better and reduce that number? Are you saying that Hiver helps you to reduce the number of emails that are coming in or manages them better?

A lot of emails are, at times, forwarded to people because one person wants to delegate a task to the second person. Hiver lets you do email assignment or delegation without having to follow these emails. It lets people view emails inside the team inbox even when they’re not copied on it. When you have access to the same email without the email or doing back and forth between people, you are reducing clutter as well. It’s eliminating the back and forth. You assign emails to people by a click of a button and not having to forward it to them. You don’t create more clutter for the person who supposed to work on the email. They get a notification and they land on the same email.

Is there anything else that you wanted to share with us about the report or about Hiver and what Hiver has to offer?

That’s pretty much about it. Every time you have a lot of emails coming into a team inbox and you have problems delegating it to your team that is when Hiver comes in. What Hiver also lets you do is it gives every email a status. Every email is either in an open state or a pending or a closed state. As a manager, you can always quickly find out how far has your team progressed on working on an email and what is the status of that email or who is working on that team. Let’s say one person is not present. You can always go and filter all those emails that this person was supposed to work on and then reassign it to another teammate.

TBT 95 | Managing Your Emails

Managing Your Emails: Hiver does a lot of manual intervention and saves you 10 to 20 hours every week if you have a lot of emails coming in.

 

It helps you ensure that your team is always on top of emails. Your team never misses an email and another interesting thing that Hiver does for you is it automates email assignment. Let’s say you receive a lot of emails from your shipping company and let’s say Jessica from your team manages all of those emails. You can automate all the emails that come from the shipping company’s domain address to be assigned to Jessica automatically. Every time the shipping company emails to you, Jessica gets a notification. There’s zero manual intervention here.

That can be super powerful to eliminate the forwarding. All that interim communication does add clutter. It’s a distraction, disruption from somebody else who has to forward it on to the person who is responsible, so it gets to the right place immediately. That’s a huge value. I appreciate that.

It saves a lot of manual intervention when you have an email coming in. You have to spend a minute or two thinking whom to assign it to and then sending to them. Imagine 100 emails coming in your inbox and you don’t have to work on assigning them to anyone. A tool does it for you automatically. You’re saving 10 hours to 20 hours every week if you have a lot of emails coming in.

Is that the average amount of time that you have seen people report in that they’re saving per week?

I won’t say it’s true for everyone, but for someone who runs or manages an inbox that receives a lot of customer support queries. Let’s say an eCommerce website, a travel agency, they have a lot of emails coming in every hour. By way of automated email assignment would easily save around ten hours a week. They don’t have to get up in the morning. The first thing that they do after they come back, they come to work. They don’t have to sit and assign emails to people. That happens automatically. You have to specify conditions based on which emails have to be assigned based on the subject line or based on the sender.

That is huge. If you’re managing any of these group email boxes, then you’re going to be able to take back time with Hiver as a tool to be able to manage those emails, to assign them to create that workflow automatically. Also, to see the results that you have in the analysis. That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for being here, Harsh, and sharing Hiver and what Hiver has to offer as well as the survey that you did. Is there anywhere you want to tell them where they can find out more about you and about Hiver?

You have to visit HiverHQ.com and you can find us there.

Thanks for being here, Harsh. 

Thanks for having me.

Thank you all for being here. Whether now was applicable to you because you’re managing a group email box or it got you thinking about how you can use email in a more efficient and effective way for yourself. Whether it’s how you automate your incoming emails and how you filter. All of these things are important because email can be such a great productivity tool when we allow it but it can also be a distractor and a time vampire for us that sucks away a lot of our time into the non-core business. You’ve got to get some systems and structures in place to support you in every area of your life and especially when it relates to your email. That’s your task now is to go away and check out Hiver and check out some other tools that are going to support you to manage your email box more effectively so you can spend more time on the things that are most important to you. Thank you for being here. See you in the next episode.

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About Harsh Vardhan

We are a bunch of folks with borderline devotional love for email, committed to the idea of making it noise-free and collaborative for teams.

Why email you may ask? Email is one of the most common ways to communicate at work, is far less distracting than its chat counterparts, and lets you respond at your own pace.

But it hasn’t evolved over the years to meet the changing collaboration needs of businesses. Teams have to rely on inefficient methods like Forwards and Ccs to share information, often leading to messy threads and missed emails. Not to mention the toll it takes on your productivity, ability to concentrate and all things zen.

At Hiver they are trying to solve this by giving email collaborative superpowers and, in the process, giving you back the most important currency there is – time.

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