Save time by being smart with e-mail: this is how you do it
If you are just starting your business, you are happy with every email that comes in. Hooray, a potential customer, or perhaps a new business relationship! But the busier you get and the better your business runs, the more time it takes to process email. Of course it is nice to receive a nice e-mail from an important business relation, for example, but the majority of your e-mails will eventually consist of 'must-haves'. Mails that simply need to be dealt with. It takes time. And that's a shame.
For many entrepreneurs, a lot of time (and therefore money!) could be saved in the field of e-mail handling. In some cases it's about that one hour a day that you often lack, but there are also excesses: entrepreneurs who literally work from their inboxes all day long and never reach the magical '0 new emails'. Do you recognize yourself somewhere in this spectrum? Then it's handy email automation and inbox management by a virtual assistant to consider.
The word automation says it all: the (partial) automation of your e-mail activities. But how? A standard reply on incoming mails is not too neat, is it?
There are several tools for smart email automation on the market. MailChimp is one of the most popular. With such a tool you can set all kinds of rules that ensure that certain e-mails – which you of course have to write and record once – are sent to exactly the right addresses at exactly the right time. Think of follow-up emails in response to quotations that you have sent. Instead of having to keep track of who has and who has not responded to your quotes, you can let such a tool do that work. It measures whether a quotation has been followed up and automatically sends a follow-up email after a waiting period set by you.
What else can you do with such a tool? A whole lot, for example:
- Welcome emails to new customers;
- Evaluation emails to customers who have been (remained) a customer for an x period;
- Newsletters to specific target groups;
- Follow-up emails to customers who may or may not have responded to previous emails, such as a call-to-action in a newsletter;
- Emails to customers who still have products in their shopping cart, but have not completed the order.
There are so many more examples to come up with. You probably don't even send all these types of emails yourself – but then email automation is also a great time to tackle your email marketing.
E-mail automation can mean a lot to you, but does not yet offer a real solution for manual customization. Answering customer questions. Confirm appointments and put them in your calendar. Handling complaints or warranty claims. All chores that have to be done every day, but for which you really did not become an entrepreneur. There is another handy tool for that.
You can easily have this kind of incoming mail traffic handled by a Virtual Assistant, or VA. This is a personal assistant with whom you work remotely (and therefore virtually). He or she is not at your office, but handles all that daily hassle for you from a different location. Of course exactly in accordance with your wishes and regulations.
VAs are offered by various parties. In the Netherlands, Shift Office Support is a well-known party. Right away Virtual Assistant from Shift Office Support do you make agreements about which e-mails are handled by the SA, which ready-made answers and reactions should be used for this, but also not unimportant: which e-mails still really need to be handled by you and what should be done in case of doubt .
Of course there is the issue of privacy and security. Because you don't like to hand over your passwords and you may also sometimes use your business e-mail privately. That is why it is important to find a party that handles your privacy in a responsible manner and uses the most modern means to exchange passwords, without the other person actually seeing your passwords.
Both email automation and hiring a VA can immediately cause a huge impact in time in your company. Time that you were previously busy typing the same texts over and over, you can now spend on actually doing business and improving your company. This makes them both smart investments that will pay for themselves in the long run.