November 22, 2016
You're busy. As a digital marketer, you have so much to keep up with, and emails alone can dominate a good portion of your day. I'm always looking for ways to be more efficient, and between all of the different productivity methods and apps, it's hard to know what actually helps versus what is a novelty. Although I do occasionally get distracted by the latest "shiny object," there are three tools that I rely on to stay efficient in communication and on top of what's going on in my industry. Also — to be very clear: I was not compensated for these recommendations, I just really like them!
An unwieldy inbox isn’t something that I care to deal with. Achieving inbox zero isn’t my goal, but I can’t stand clutter. Unroll.Me is a free tool that will automatically detect all of your email subscriptions and provide you with three options: Keep in Inbox, Roll Up, or Unsubscribe. Any emails selected for “Roll Up” are collected and delivered to you as tiles in a single email once per day. It’s perfect for those emails that you’re interested in but that may not be top priority. Between the Roll Up and Unsubscribe feature, your mailbox will be instantly more manageable so that you can stay focused on the emails that are truly important. Every time a new subscription is detected, Unroll.Me will alert you in your daily rollup so that you can continue to keep your inbox nice and tidy.
Now, I know this is a topic that makes email marketers squirm. However — working on email, myself, I see it as an incentive to provide useful, relevant content to customers. If your brand engages in email marketing, the growth of inbox management services should be viewed as a welcome challenge to become more user-centric in the content that you are pushing out. If you want to stay in inboxes, you need to give your customers a reason to keep you there.
Screenshots are helpful in providing explanation via email (for that I use Monosnap), but often video is even better. (Insert cliché about “if pictures are worth 1,000 words…”) This saves so much time in trying to explain something. Whether I’m looking to demonstrate a bug that I’ve found on a website, how to use a particular product feature or needing to show an animation, I like to use QuickCast. Rather than having to write out a long explanation, I can simply make a video in a fraction of the time. This tool is intended for use in creating short screencasts up to three minutes. Their tagline (Make. Publish. Share.) very succinctly captures why I like it. Not only can you easily record your screen, but you can upload and share it using a link generated by QuickCast. The one downside: it is only available to Mac users in the App Store.
Staying on top of industry news is an essential part of my job. However, clicking from site to site to read articles and blog posts is inefficient and a big time suck. There are a multitude of feed aggregators out there, but my preferred tool is Feedly. For me, its simplicity is the main selling point. Feedly provides easy discovery, clear organization and one master feed of articles that is easily scannable. This full list can be presented in several different display views based upon your preferences, including a card format and text-only title list. I prefer the title list, because it allows me to quickly scan hundreds of articles in a matter of minutes, using the “save for later” feature to mark any that I believe to be valuable for myself, colleagues or clients.