Us event planners can easily get bogged down in email. Whether it’s from a co-worker, current client, or prospective customer, it can seem like climbing out of our email inbox and finally experiencing Inbox Zero is a far-away dream.
The reality of email is that it’s a necessary evil of the events industry—but it doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence.
We dive into many more email marketing tips in our Secret Science of Email Marketing eBook. You can download it for free by clicking the button below.
Here are ten email management tips for tackling complex events or simply to keep you sane.
1) Use tech to manage your inbox
If you’re not using some kind of technology to help you manage your inbox, it’s time to get on-board. There are plenty of email plug-ins or widgets that help you manage the load.
For example, if you’re not all that great at email follow-ups, use a widget like Boomerang or Followup.cc to set a reminder to re-surface emails in case you don’t hear back. This is perfect for when you’re sending out supplier requests on behalf of a client, when you’re sourcing venues, or just the expected back and forth when planning an event.
2) Use a method for managing follow-up urgency
Many email clients today have the ability to change the main view of your inbox of one long block of read and unread messages. Instead, create a method for managing follow-up urgency by creating tabs to follow up on an email one week out, two weeks out, a month out, etc.
3) Leverage canned responses
Are you going to be responding back to a handful of prospects with similar responses? For emails that are cyclical or typical, use a canned response. Gmail has a plug-in where you can create, store, and delete your most common email responses.
4) Extensions, extensions, extensions!
Did you know that your browser has extensions you can install to help with how you manage email? If you’re receiving to-do’s and task list items you can add on a browser extension that links to your productivity apps to create an addition to your task list.
Behold, Chrome extensions! Note: Other browsers also offer extensions.
Adding extensions will help to manage the many details you juggle on a daily basis for the myriad of events you’re planning. Once you create a task from your email, you can set a reminder for follow up (see hint 2!) or file the message away appropriately.
5) Out of office: CTA
When you’re away for an event, especially multi-day events, it’s easy to go from inbox zero to inbox one thousand.
Get a little bit creative with your out of office by creating a call to action, or a CTA. Perhaps you want clients to meet your new event partners via a blog post? Or, you have new services added to your repertoire that you want prospective clients to see. Whatever the action is that you want them to take, add it into your out of office message. By directing those who email you to where you want them to go, it may help them help themselves or give them info in the short-term while you’re away.
6) Out of office: email signature
Similar to adding a CTA to your out of office, add into your email signature when you’ll be away. This is handy especially when you know you’ll be away for an event and need clients to take a specific action.
7) Timebox for email
If you feel like you can never quite dig out of your email inbox, you’re not alone. One of my favorite email management tips is to use timeboxing.
Timeboxing is the process of creating calendar invites for yourself to manage certain tasks, for example, checking email.
It might seem militant, but by setting aside time at the beginning, middle and end of your day to check your inbox and really take care of those tasks, you can focus your energy throughout your day on other high-impact tasks that will move your events forward. Talk about event planning prioritization!
8) Use labels, categories, and filters
There’s a high likelihood that you’re not managing a single client. You might be tackling multiple clients in different geographical areas with varying timelines.
Get your arms around your inbox by using labels for certain clients, which will make finding these emails easier in the future. Categories work in a similar way where you can tag a type of email, such as an availability request. Filters can do the work for you and categorize emails based upon a keyword or a sender and file accordingly.
Sometimes when it comes to managing your email inbox and getting to what you need to push the needle on an event, it comes down to unsubscribing. Some suppliers may add you to a newsletter that you never signed up for or you were added to a new product eBlast.
Do a search for “unsubscribe” in your inbox and find those pesky emails. Additionally, tools like Unroll.me will mass-unsubscribe you from any newsletter you’re on, once and for all.
10) Get rid of email altogether (or at least reduce your dependency)
While this might seem like an impossible task, there are tools that can help free you of email. Slack, a communication tool, has the ability to upload files, add widgets for social media mentions or add integrations for your event website. This could work great for bucketing teams working company wide on a particular event. Additionally, you can bring in vendors or suppliers into Slack, to get everyone on the same page with an event.
By using a tool like Slack you can end the dreaded, never-ending email chains that can plague your inbox. Instead, you are able to streamline your teams, puts files in one spot, and best of all, you can add widgets to alert you about things that matter most to your team.
Which other email management tips do you use to manage your events? Let us know in the comments below.
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