Beware the Promise to 'Fix' Email
In fact, email is seeing a resurgence. Take, for example, the many companies who are investing in new email innovations, including my own, My.com. Yet lately you can’t follow tech news without hearing of companies whose mission is to "fix" email.
The truth of the matter is, email doesn’t need to be fixed.
Deploying a replacement tool that requires additional processes (and more passwords to remember) is not the answer. Invariably, new tools and the associated processes create more problems. What needs to change is people's approach to email.
Let’s review a few of the prevailing complaints that keep surfacing about email with an eye to what can be done.
Related: Punch Your Inbox in the Face
1. Receiving too many messages.
A common complaint about work-related email usually has less to do with real work and more to do with organizing messages and ease in making, say, lunch plans.
Learn how to do triage to your inbox and change habits to focus on important mail. And if your inbox is clogged with messages about a specific project, consider setting up a collaboration tool. Email is not optimal for a long chain of back-and-forth discussion. A collaboration tool will let you quickly engage in the moment in a focused back-and-forth conversation.
When it comes to personal email accounts, hoopefully, you have more than one. On average, people have three accounts, according to a Radicati report last year.
You should have several email accounts to manage your personal life. In the digital era, email is a common mechanism for conducting business online.
Think about all the email confirmations you receive for purchases made online, airline ticket reservations and messages from social-media platforms. Smart consumers create an email account just to handle those messages.
A separate email for family and friends keeps important email handy and a third account can be set up specifically for correspondence related to a club, school or another important membership.
I'd recommend creating a fourth email account for newsletters and store offers. Many retailers require customers subscribe to their offers in order to receive discounts, early access to deals and content, and apparently some customers desire offers delivered via email.
But you don’t want the inbox where you check for news from family and friends filled up with offers. Use a special email address so you can review these missives when you're ready.
Eventually this inbox will be filled with expired offers but making it current after an email-free vacation is easy to do: Just select all the messages and delete. You won’t accidentally delete important email because this account is reserved for these less important messages.
2. Difficulty in locating important messages.
Master the art of email filing. Create folders for certain topics, projects or people. Most email services have a robust search function so locating two months later a message related to a specific topic will be simple even if it's been tucked inside a folder.
3. Hassles in opening many accounts on a phone.
A new convenient innovation is the ability to access separate email accounts from different providers all from one mobile app. Starting separate email apps can drain the battery on a mobile device.
Email has been the victim of an Internet death hoax for too long. What we are really witnessing is a rebirth. Email is becoming more powerful as its usage grows in number of users and tally of emails sent. The biggest change is that people are accessing it more often on mobile devices than a desktop.
A true innovation would be one that makes the mobile experience better and more secure. And in that way, innovation in email is welcomed -- at least from the vantage point of this ready correspondent.