If you don't live under a rock, you probably know what Gmail is, but you might not have given it the chance it deserves. Gmail is my favorite email application simply because of the flexibility. of it. There's very few email hosts that allow you the same amount of plugins and features as Gmail.
As I write this, keep in mind that I use Gmail with Chrome, so all the features may not be available across all web browsers. You should also know that I've used Hotmail, Outlook, Comcast, Yahoo, BlueHost, Mail, Inbox and Apple Mail - and Gmail is BY FAR my favorite.
01. Get Your Stuff Together
We're going to get you into the magical land of inbox zero - but first, there are a couple things you'll want to gather together and get ready:
- All your email login information (yes, this includes ALL your emails. Even that one from high school)
- A Gmail account (if you don't already have one, you'll need to make one) - this will be the only place you log in from now on so make it good.
- A positive mindset. This will take a couple of days to fully set up, but once it's done, you'll never have to do it again!
02. Setting Up a Business Account
If you want an email with your own domain name, this is your first step. If you want to use a gmail account you already have and you don't need your own domain, skip this step :)
Head over to G Suite, and click on the blue "get started" button in the upper right-hand corner. Fill out your information in the three steps (see below) and set up your domain name through google if you don't already have one set up. Or you can connect your current domain (Google will walk you through this process step-by-step)
Once your account is created, you'll be sent to your new G Suite Admin Console where you can change and edit all your settings and access all your account options.
Change your company name, language, time zone, communication preferences, upload a company logo, add custom URLS, delete your account and more. This is your main hub for changing the business preferences.
This is where you can add and edit users to your account. Each new user is $5 or $10 depending on the account you choose. You'll be able to add users, delete users and reset passwords from this menu.
Here is where you can change your plan (between the $5 account and $10 account), change your billing preferences, see your monthly bills and update your subscription.
View data on your entire organization, who logs in and when, how much storage is being used, which apps are used on the account and lots more. This gets more helpful as you grow your team and need to manage your security and features.
Here's where you can connect Gmail, calendar, drive, 3rd party apps and all google services. You can choose which users access which apps.
Manage which devices have access to the account. Manage VPNs and Wi-Fi Networks in your organization.
Manage the password strength requirements of your members, set up 2-step verification and monitor password strength by user. Set up single sign-on and API references.
Get tech help, contact Google support and get reseller resources from this one page.
If you're moving from GoDaddy, Microsoft Office or Microsoft Exchange, this migration assistant makes it easy to move all your emails, contacts or calendars over in just a couple steps.
Add, remove and manage your domain alias. Create emails based on these domains.
Manage which users have administrative access. Create custom roles and manage admin privileges.
Create a group where you can join, post messages, view member lists and visit archives.
03. Transferring Accounts Over
Moving all your email accounts into one Gmail inbox is easier than you think. To prove it, I'm showing you how to add one of the toughest email clients to Gmail. Watch the video to see how I add my Outlook email to my Gmail account in less than 10 minutes.
If you'd prefer to avoid the hassle of importing years worth of email, you can choose to forward your mail instead. Here's a quick way to do just that using icloud and outlook.
04. Setting Up Labels
Unlike most email providers, Gmail doesn't user folders, it uses "Labels". Label are essentially the same idea but with a huge bonus, you can store emails in multiple labels. Meaning I can label my email as "Homework" but I can leave it in my inbox until I do it. Then when I'm done, I hit the Archive button and it's removed from my inbox and stored in my Homework "folder".
You can have as many labels as you need, including sub-labels to help you organize them. You can also color code the labels in your Gmail sidebar to help you quickly find the one you need.
CHOOSING WHICH LABELS ARE SHOWN
Under your settings and the labels tab, you can choose which labels are shown in your sidebar, and which are hidden. You also have the option of only showing the label when there are unread messages.
For example, I don't see my spam folder in the sidebar unless there is an unread spam message. You can access all the labels by clicking the "more" button below your labels.
COLOR CODING AND SUB-LABELS
To add a color or sub-label, hover over the label you want to change and click on the little arrow that appears (it'll show up on the little color block). This will open up some options for you to choose from
05. Setting Up Filters
06. Building a Workflow
Using filters and a good label system is helpful, but that's not what will keep your inbox clean. A proper workflow for how you manage and read new emails is the most important aspect of the whole "inbox zero idea". Ask your self these questions and then watch the video for ideas on how to maximize your inbox and limit the time you spend on emails.
- How many times do you check your email per day? How many times per week?
- How many unread emails are in your inbox currently? What percentage of those are actually important?
- How many email newsletters are you subscribed to? (Just give a ball park guess) How many of those do you actually read?
- Do you answer emails right away or put them off for later?
- Do you use canned emails or templates to answer commonly asked questions?
07. Additional Features & Add-ons
Technically, Streak is a Customer Relationship Manager but you can use it for a ton of things. I use Streak as a sales funnel, bill tracker, wedding planner, and client log.
Streak allows you to create pipelines (think workflows or processes), schedule emails to send later, keep all your emails from one person in one "box", schedule reminders for emails, snooze mail for later, keep notes and info for each client/contact, create better canned emails and see when clients open your emails.
All of these tools can be used by any business owner who works with clients or customers. Or you can use these to simply keep your projects organized.
Streak can be a little confusing when you first start, mostly because it has SO many features. I've been using it for almost 6 months and I still don't use half the features they offer. I really believe the best way to learn is by doing, so install it and play around with it.
BOXES & PIPELINES
A box is created for each contact/client. Boxes hold all the emails, notes, and contact information for a person who you add to a pipeline. A pipeline is the process you create and move clients through.
When you want to create a new pipeline, there are 14 pre-set options to help you get started, or you can create a custom pipeline (click on the image to the left to see these).
As you can see, there are a bunch of options for how to use Streak. The best part about it is that you can add as many boxes (people) to a pipeline as you want, or create separate pipelines for each project.
When you create a new pipeline it'll look like the one below (this is the product development template).
One of my favorite Streak features is the ability to customize all the parts of your process. You can rearrange, change colors, change titles, add steps and add team members. Below are some of the screenshots from my pipeline creation and how I use it to plan projects.
If you plan to use multiple inboxes to keep yourself organized, here's a complete list of the different "star" search queries to use in your settings:
If you need some ideas for canned responses, you can purchase pre-written emails below:
10 pre-written email templates to use for various email offers. Save them in your email to create quick responses and achieve inbox zero a little quicker.
The email templates included are:
- Bad Inquiry - Reject
- Good Inquiry - Reject
- Project offer - Reject but support via advertising
- Continuous spam or email inquiry - reject
- Holiday Automated Message
- New Client Inquiry - Reject
- New Client Inquiry - Accept
- Request Late Invoice be Paid
- Potential Client Asks for Lower Prices
- Guest Post Request - Reject
BONUS VIDEO showing you exactly how to add canned emails to your gmail inbox, how to set up holiday auto-respond messages and how to add email templates to 17Hats.