Business email culture is a relatively young one. It surged after becoming available to the public in the 90s and slowly shaped itself into what we all know and work with on a daily basis.
Email service providers have gone through a lot of changes. Users are getting more features, more platforms, and more protection measures — and each of those changes affects the way you communicate and build your outreach.
We talk a lot about how to write sales email templates, send follow-ups, and schedule the perfect timing for sending emails. However, we haven’t yet talked about the importance of your business mailbox.
For many business owners, business mailboxes are the primary tool of online communication, but at the same time, they are not aware of the potential that can be harnessed through customizing their mailboxes and fine-tuning their features.
To us, this is a routine and obligatory process, so it sounds as natural to us as it sounds odd and complicated to the people who have never taken an in-depth look at the system within their email domain.
This guide will:
- Introduce you to the wonders of Gmail’s corporate inbox features.
- Outline the basic principles of business mailbox fine-tuning
- Help small business owners and B2B entrepreneurs maximize the efficiency of their business mailboxes easily, without costly investments or long trial and error sessions.
Let’s take a look at what your business mailbox is made of and see how it can help you optimize your workflow.
Create a branded business email
While we have no doubt that most of our readers use only branded emails for work, we still think that we need to clarify why using a free Gmail account won’t do for building productive and long-lasting B2B relationships.
A branded email is an email address that features the brand’s name in its domain name. For instance, we use Gmail for sending emails and communicating with our potential customers, but our email domain is @belkins.io, not @gmail.com.
The advantages of creating an email for business may seem obvious. But, the level of understanding varies greatly from company to company.
According to an interview with the Senior Vice President of Business Applications at GoDaddy, Steven Aldrich, 80% of small-sized companies use through @gmail.com domains for business communication.
By doing so, they rob themselves of the benefits that greatly influence their brand’s credibility and visibility.
Branded emails are taken more seriously. Using @gmail.com or @yahoo.com email addresses is acceptable for freelancers. But it’s not a good look. Anyone can create a free Gmail account and introduce themselves as a company with high-class services. And, because of that, recipients take the information that comes from a @gmail.com/yahoo.com email address with a grain of salt.
The default email domain doesn’t make a good first impression or offer any credibility.
But if a company goes through the trouble of getting a customized account with their name of it, it shows you mean business. Prospects are nine times more likely to trust organizations that use branded email addresses.
Branded emails spread visibility. While B2B is not about grabbing attention the same way B2C is, your company’s name should still be on top of your prospect’s minds. Don’t miss your chance to insert your brand into every aspect of your work, especially your emails, especially if they are your main means of contacting your prospects.
Brand consistency wins prospects over nowadays. Since you add your email address to your website, to your comments, to your guest posts, it’s your virtual business card.
Starting with the address and ending with the signature, the impression your emails make affects your prospects’ impressions of your brand.
Branded emails get labeled as spam less often. If you send to corporate emails from a free @gmail.com or @yahoo.com address, you have a much higher risk of getting stuck in the spam folder. The majority of spam emails usually comes from free email providers and spam filters are highly suspicious of every new @gmail.com email that lands in an inbox. Branded emails save you time that otherwise would have been wasted on figuring out why your emails are disappearing.
Branded emails allow more features. The smoother your workflow is, the better. When you tap into the expanded set of email tools, you get the opportunity to use your email account to work with documents, schedules, and files. You gain quick access to your work data, customer data, and can stay connected to your plans without having to be confined to your PC.
Branded emails offer more security. Your business email account is more protected than average email accounts. The system is more attentive to those you share your file access with, watches your senders more closely, and is on the lookout for any phishing and hacking attempts. It allows you to reduce the range of possible negative consequences and focus on implementing security measures within your team.
1.1 Why do we use Gmail?
We work with various companies across the globe and all segments of the target audience. Because of this, we needed an email service that would take these requirements into account.
The number of monthly active Gmail users is roughly 1.2 billion and counting. There is no point in using email providers that are less well known. The service is also available in 72 languages, which particularly important to us as we reach our potential buyers around the world.
That, and other features like 20 + GB of storage, built-in tools, the ability to make video calls, advanced spam protection, and full compatibility with mobile gadgets make Gmail the perfect working cabinet for any entrepreneur.
Additionally, business Gmail accounts work perfectly with MS Outlook and other email services. Since working with our customers’ inboxes sometimes requires migrating their mailboxes to other email service providers, this option is very important to our performance.
Solidify your identity
Let’s start with the most important part — the one that would inject value into every email sent from your inbox.
For optimal performance, your inbox needs:
- Your real name and last name. Leave pseudonyms and nicknames for your personal accounts. At work, your prospects want to work with you, a professional they can trust and discuss important matters with. And, let’s be honest, names like Johny Brav00 don’t make a good first impression.
- Your photo ID. Credibility and authenticity are everything nowadays. By adding an HD photo to your Gmail profile, you get two birds with one stone. Your recipients are more confident about communicating with you since they know they’re speaking with a real person. And, you have more chances at passing through spam filters because the more specific your sender information is, the more you differentiate yourself from troublesome senders.
- Your email signature. It’s a business card that gives a brief introduction to your business, your services, and even your accomplishments. It also outlines your title, your contact data, and your physical address. Providing specific information makes you stand out from generic and suspicious senders who never provide such detailed information and credentials.
Once you’ve done that, you can no longer worry about being categorized as a spammer or a wannabe entrepreneur. These valuable bits of data also prevents you from getting painted with a CAN-SPAM act violator brush (we’ll talk about CAN-SPAM act in a bit).
Organize your inbox
Whether you are a B2B buyer or a B2B vendor, you receive lots of emails. For instance, each of our SDRs sends and processes over 120 emails every day. That’s 840 emails per week.
Let’s not forget all the internal emails and newsletters you get. If you don’t keep track of how and where your incoming emails land, you risk wasting precious hours digging through your mailbox to find an email from an important prospect or an email that you must respond to before the end of the afternoon.
This is where inbox organization comes in handy.
In Gmail, you have several organization settings at your disposal for your inbox:
Labels contain specific messages that allow you to view your sent emails, draft emails, and received emails separately from the rest. Your default labels consist of Draft, Trash, Inbox, and Spam segments.
You can also create labels of your own and choose the order in which they will be displayed in your section:
You can assign your newly created labels to parent labels to help keep relevant messages connected:
For easier navigation, you can color your labels by selecting the corresponding option in the pop-up menu.
Once you’ve done this, all messages that belong to that label will be displayed with the corresponding color.
If there are labels that you don’t need, you can (and should) hide them by accessing the Manage Labels settings.
You can also turn your labels into folders by moving the message from primary labels to any of the categories created by you.
Much like Labels, Tabs allow you to categorize your emails by type. Since you can do the same in the Category label, having Tabs displayed in your inbox is optional. You can add or remove tabs by clicking the Settings icon and choosing Configure Inbox option.
Then, you just check or uncheck the tabs that you don’t need in your work.
Make sure, however, that you don’t disable any tabs that have lots of messages in them. Otherwise, all of them end up back in your Primary tab, resulting in extra chaos.
With tabs, you can keep your emails organized, separate your promotional messages from incoming messages, and display marker icons to the messages that you want to follow up with.
Fine-tune your work processes
Your workflow consists of more than just one process. You have pending projects and you need to stay in touch with important potential partners, so keeping more than one inbox is not an option. Luckily, you can avoid crossing the streams of your different tasks and communication threads, without installing expansions in Gmail.
We’re talking about the option of creating multiple inboxes. You may think that means creating and managing multiple Gmail accounts, but it doesn’t.
Your default inbox is called a primary inbox. Multiple inboxes are the mini inboxes that are created in addition to your primary inbox and allow for additional sections for email communication. It helps you separate the massive communication threads from your primary inbox. For example, if you use your primary inbox for communicating with your customers only and don’t want your emails to be mixed with the messages from your team, you can view them separately without digging through your primary inbox.
NOTE: The Multiple Inboxes feature is incompatible with Tabs. Make sure that all of your Tabs, except for the Primary Tab, are disabled before you begin.
- To create multiple inboxes, click the Settings icon and enter the corresponding menu tab. After this, find the Advanced tab and click Enable next to the Multiple Inboxes option
- After you activated the Multiple Inbox feature, access its settings This is where you add inboxes to your primary inbox. Enter the inbox names in the format indicated in the screencap.
Pay close attention to the Search Query field. If you enter the inbox name in the wrong format, your inboxes won’t be displayed. We also suggest choosing the maximum number of email threads per page, for a more convenient workflow with your messages and inboxes.
After you’re done, your inbox should look like this:
- Make sure that there is a label for each of your new mini-boxes. Go to the Label menu and create new labels that correspond with the task assigned to each new inbox.
5. Explore useful add-ons
All the Gmail tips mentioned above are the most basic ways to fine-tune your inbox and prime it up for a smooth, organized workflow. After implementing them, you can explore other features that are found in Settings to assist you in your B2B communications.
In our work, we make good use of the Templates feature. It’s a time-saving solution that lets you quickly upload frequently-used templates, without having to write and rewrite the same email over and over again.
To enable Templates, find the following option in your Settings, choose Enable and save the changes:
NOTE: Templates used to be called Canned Responses and were previously available via Labs tab.
6. Check your CAN-SPAM act compliance
While not related to your inbox directly, it’s an essential part of all upcoming email campaigns. If you don’t follow it through, your inbox optimization efforts would all be wasted.
CAN-SPAM laws exist to protect your recipients of unwanted commercial messages, enabling them to stop intrusive senders from reaching them.
6.1 How can senders violate the CAN-SPAM act?
- Using misleading information. Violators of CAN-SPAM guidelines hide or distort information about their identity, routing, domain, and anything that allows recipients to easily identify and find them.
- Utilizing misleading subject lines. Subject lines that are not related to the content of the email to grab attention guarantees a report to the Federal Trade Commission. We’re talking about the subject lines that fake emergencies (“URGENT - New Working Schedule”), look like a call for help from colleagues (“Have you seen my phone?”), mimic transactional emails (“Booking made”) or the ones that trick you into thinking you’ve made a purchase (“Your order is in process”).
- Hiding sender and location information. Some senders refuse to provide any data on their title, whereabouts and company in their profile and communications. A lack of signature and social proof is a red flag.
- Registering numerous email accounts and domain names using a false ID. Unreliable senders can also perform outreach by using a persona and a fake physical address. This approach creates an impression of visibility.
- Leaving no opt-out options for recipients. If recipients are not provided the option to stop receiving emails from you (or if you intentionally ignore their requests to stop) they can report a CAN-SPAM violation to the Federal Trade Commission and inform their Internet Service Provider about you.
- Harvesting email addresses through a dictionary attack. Dictionary attack means sending emails to addresses that consist of random numbers and letters. This spray and pray approach may hit several email addresses that actually exist, making them a target for spam messages and phishing attempts.
- Sending spam from another person’s email address or device. To cover their tracks, fishy senders let other users take the hit by using their email domain or PC for sending spam messages.
As you can see, while some CAN-SPAM violation tactics are obviously malicious and illegal, some of them look harmless or acceptable to senders. However, they’re not and are punished harshly.
Violating the CAN-SPAM act results in penalties of up to $42,530 per separate email or, depending on the harshness of violation and tactics used, possible imprisonment.
Also, the CAN-SPAM act can penalize more than one company. For instance, if a marketing agency violates CAN-SPAM guidelines while promoting the client’s product, both the agency and the client company will be held responsible.
Better safe than sorry. At Belkins, we always instruct our customers to:
- Allow prospects to opt-out. There is no point in holding on to prospects who don’t want to be with you. They will never become your buyers, but they have the chance to become your accuser. And they will be right. Your email signature must inform your recipients that receiving your email communication doesn’t commit them to anything.
- Build transparency. This is why we started this article with the advice to add your real name, photo to your Google profile and to create a signature. Let your prospects know who they are speaking with, where do you come from, what your company is all about.
- Avoid clickbait. Your subject lines should be relevant to the content of your email and be honest about your goals. There are many ways to build interest without deceiving your prospects.
- Mean business. Don’t send your emails from incomprehensible addresses like “B2BWiZzard2019@gmail.com”. Your email address should be simple and easily recognizable.
- Check your partners. Remember what we said about the CAN-SPAM act being able to punish multiple companies? You should always know if partner companies understand the importance of CAN-SPAM guidelines and the gravity of the violation penalties. You trust your contractors to not only with the success of your product, but also your reputation. Therefore, choose your allies wisely and don’t hesitate to question them on their email ethics.
As you can see, your inbox has a lot more potential than it used to. The modern inbox tool-set allows you to turn it into a virtual cabinet, where you arrange and sort data, communicate with your teams and your prospects and install tools to maximize your work.
In your inbox optimization, you must be guided by the following values:
- Credibility. Your email address and email domain represent you on the B2B field. Make sure your first impression is a positive one. Update your Gmail profile with relevant data and keep your visual IDs clear.
- Utility. Don’t stuff your inbox with trendy, yet unnecessary tools. Basic features provided by G-Suite and Settings are more than enough to help you arrange your inbox to boost productivity.
- Performance. As an inbox user, you must be sure that it takes no longer than 5 minutes for you to find and start working on a message. Keep tasks organized and labeled in order of relevance to make sure you are keeping up with your schedule.
Take care of your inbox like you would your physical office. It’s important to keep everything about your inbox, Gmail profile and email domain presentable, clean and comprehensible enough to make people trust you and want to do business with you.
There are many more tricks that you can do with your email account. However, this gives you a solid foundation for successful sales campaigns and genuine B2B communications.