Love it or hate it, chances are you need an active email account.
And email, needless to say, can be frustrating. Especially if your job requires you to monitor a high-volume account, with hundreds of messages flying in and out of your inbox every day.
Constant alerts from new emails distract from focused work. Plus, it can be difficult to gauge which messages to prioritize and which to revisit later (if at all).
The compulsive checking, sorting, and writing adds up. According to a McKinsey study, the average worker spends 28% of their workweek on email.
What's even more frustrating is that out of the hundreds of billions of emails sent worldwide every month, most of them are spam. Such messages have no business stifling your concentration.
That said, email can still be a source of satisfaction instead of anxiety. Even if your inbox is stuffed, the best-kept accounts minimize distractions, process messages at lightning speed, and are a far less intrusive way to communicate with colleagues than direct messaging platforms. You just need the right tool.
That tool? Email management software. Consider this your all-inclusive guide to what it is, why it works, and how the right tool helps you reap all its perks.
What is email management software?
Think of email management software as a powerful engine that revs up a conventional inbox, like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail. There are countless management platforms to choose from, with more popping up every year, and its exact functions vary across use cases. But they're all designed to help you manage, sort, and send email.
The software of most email clients generally helps manage at least one of three categories:
- Sending email. These features help you quickly send messages to large groups of people. The best software accomplishes this by employing shortcuts to personalize mass emails and weaving insights from social media into your contacts. Some tools also let you schedule messages so you're reaching recipients at opportune times. These features are often helpful for shared inboxes, where several employees are monitoring one account.
- Receiving email. Features under this category help with incoming messages. For instance, they can notify you when you get an important message, while snoozing correspondences that are less of a priority.
- Processing personal inboxes. Email management software can also automate how you triage your personal email account. For instance, it can funnel every newsletter into a designated inbox and unsubscribe you from senders you seldom read.
To be clear: this type of tool is not just an app that lets you send and receive email. Nor is it an email service that just adds a new skin atop a Gmail or Outlook account.
The best email management software learns from your email habits and automates filters to help you prioritize what's most important.
You could manually establish this kind of structure on a barebones email account. But that's tricky, cumbersome work, and you still often get inundated with email notifications you could do without. With powerful email management software, like Superhuman, AI technology automatically highlights important correspondences for you, while allowing you to split your inbox with the tap of a few keystrokes.
This software can help usher you toward Inbox Zero and keep you more focused on tasks that most deserve your attention.
Benefits of email management software for high-volume inboxes
You may be getting along just fine with the steady trickle of countless new messages (of varying importance) combining to flood your inbox. But without an email management tool, you're missing out on three huge perks:
Mental health and wellness
Mounting research has shown that constant, unregulated email use can be a strain on our mental wellbeing. Why? Because people see all the checking, reading, and writing as a never-ending set of tasks. As much as you try to process every email and accomplish every directive within every message, more emails — ergo more undone tasks — keep funneling in.
Since studies have shown the brain remembers incomplete tasks better than finished ones, an unfiltered email account is a recipe for work to be on your mind around the clock. It's why employees who feel obliged to check email in non-work hours report higher levels of anxiety. France went so far as passing a law giving workers a "right to disconnect" from their email outside of normal business hours.
So how does email management software help? For one, well-organized inboxes mean you're not getting alerts for every email from every sender popping up into your inbox in chronological order. The most effective email management tools provide shortcuts to navigate to your important email instantly, answer crucial messages, then get out of your inbox quickly, so you're not ruminating over the deluge of unread messages.
What's more, some of these platforms — like Superhuman, for instance — let you snooze messages you want to deal with later. During work hours, this helps you concentrate on more pressing matters. Outside of work, it gives you an opportunity to enjoy unbothered leisure, while staying confident you won't let an essential message slip when it's time to read it.
A big reason why email can be such a timesuck: it's monotonous. Scrolling through an endless backlog, searching for those needle-in-the-haystack urgent messages, sending the same basic answer to dozens of different recipients asking a similar question — it can take forever on a barebones email account.
But a management tool can provide shortcuts to help you process your inbox twice as fast. Features like keyboard commands, quick replies, and automated workflows all allow you to maximize your productivity on email while minimizing costly distractions.
More insights, fewer mistakes
In addition to helping you work faster, email management tools can make your correspondence more impactful. For example, rather than scouring the web for insights on a cold lead, the best software platforms can gather social media information for you. Superhuman even lets you undo sent messages to catch any typos, and gives you the option to employ read receipts, so you know whether (and when) recipients are interacting with your emails.
6 must-have features for your email management software
Again, there are countless iterations of email management software, all promising a faster, better, and smarter inbox experience. The specific features vary, but here are some helpful solutions to weigh up:
A sorting system to organize your inbox
Again: it's risky to have one never-ending inbox housing all of your messages. Constantly switching tasks costs valuable time, and processing your inbox will have you feeling like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill.
You could use a sorting system. One that automatically sends certain types of emails directly into relevant, corresponding folders — for example, messages from the boss in one place, newsletter alerts in another. Gmail, for its part, does a decent job filtering out spam and designating less important messages into "social" and "promotions" folders. But those categories can be restrictive, and to process them, you still need to navigate to separate folders.
With an email management tool like Superhuman, you can automate how to prioritize your messages, or easily employ your own easily customizable rules and split your inbox into any categories of your choosing — say, one inbox for CRM troubleshooting and another for customer support. This type of segmentation allows you to tackle different categories one at a time, and save your brain from constantly having to switch gears.
Social insights incorporated into your workflow
If you're emailing a contact for the first time, it helps to browse LinkedIn, Twitter, and other websites, to learn a little about them. Of course, you could do this yourself, but it takes time, and a quick social media search can easily turn into a hours-long rabbit hole if you're not vigilant.
The best email management software turns what's normally a DIY process into an automatic function. With Superhuman, social insights are woven into the software. You can see social profiles, job titles, and more alongside your "compose" pane. It helps you game out ways to break the ice ahead of a cold email ask — all without leaving your inbox.
Instead of typing out the same responses over and over again, this feature lets you make a list of answers to frequently asked questions and then save them as customizable templates within your email management tool. It's a huge help for roles that demand replying to customer messages, responding to pitches and outreach, and any other high-volume functions.
With Superhuman, this doesn't involve any cumbersome copy and pasting. With keyboard shortcuts, you can add in pre-written email templates into any message (say, a "pricing" shortcut for a form email about your product's price points), quickly swap out any names and dates, and send the message within a matter of moments. It's a surefire way to boost your email response time, better ensuring important messages get noticed.
Know when messages are read — and when to follow up
Effective email management all comes down to timing. That's why the best tools show you when messages get read, remind you to follow up at the perfect time, and even allow you to schedule sent messages so that they're reaching recipients at the perfect moment.
Unsubscribe from senders you don't read
A quick look at your inbox will likely reveal messages you'll never read. If they're from senders who keep bombarding you with unread messages, it's always good email hygiene to scroll down to the end and click unsubscribe.
But Superhuman comes with a keyboard shortcut that lets you permanently block a sender within a matter of seconds. Which means you don't have to open an email and toggle all the way down to get rid of junk.
What's more, Superhuman's snooze feature acts as a more temporary unsubscribe. If there are senders or messages you'd rather ignore now, but revisit later, this solution helps you compartmentalize your focus.
Getting the most out of your email management software
If handling a large volume of email is part of your job, you need an ironclad organizational system, complete with a powerful tool that supports it. Superhuman brings you both, while helping you blaze through your inbox in record time so you can focus on what matters most.