With over 425 million users, Gmail is arguably the most widely-used, free email service available today. In fact, TopTenReviews.com has rated Gmail #1 for security, organization and composition. Beyond its basic awesome capabilities, you can now take Gmail to the next level and transform it into a productivity machine with these additional features and integrations:
This is undoubtedly my favorite new business tool. If you use social networks to connect with business associates, colleagues and potential clients, Rapportive is nothing less than a game changer! It makes it a snap to grow your network without ever leaving Gmail. When you open a new email message, a box appears to the right with the contact’s photo and links to their social profiles, websites, blogs, etc. From there you can directly interact with them on those networks by sending invitations to connect, liking and replying to recent posts, etc.
Provides automatic reminders and scheduled sending plus a host of other helpful services. Perhaps the most useful networking tool that Boomerang provides is the ability to have an email returned to your inbox if you haven’t received a reply in x number of days.
Anyone who’s ever found themselves diverting their attention every time a notification sounds on their smartphone will find this tool invaluable. Awayfind allows you to designate personal settings to specify which emails deserve your attention and which can wait for later. Adjusting the settings as your needs change is easy, and you’ll never again stop what you’re doing to check your email only to find that ‘ping’ was just another piece of junk mail hitting your spam folder.
You may never need another CRM system. When used in conjunction with other tools and apps mentioned in this article, Gmail’s contact database transforms into a full blown contact management system. It provides fields for several different emails, phone numbers, addresses, and websites plus other pertinent information. It even allows you to create notes and custom fields.
The foremost benefit of using Google Apps for your business is the ability to create an email address @yourdomain, presenting a more more professional representation of your business. Of course they also offer a variety of other tools and benefits and provide one centralized dashboard for you to gain access to all of your business Google apps tools.
CONVERT EMAILS INTO TASKS
Active Inbox and Taskforce are two independent tools designed to integrate with Gmail and allowing you to instantly convert emails into tasks, add emails to projects and more.
EMAIL MERGE WITH GMAIL
Although not as simple as creating a mail merge with MS Word, this article by Lifehacker explains how you can use Gmail in conjunction with Google Docs to create a mail merge email document. This can be a real time saver when sending a standardized email with personalized fields to a list of contacts.
UNLEASH THE POWER OF GMAIL LABS
Gmail Labs offers dozens of options for extending the functionality of your email. To view the Labs available, go to the ‘gear’ icon at the top of the Gmail screen and click ‘settings’ then ‘labs’. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Canned Responses - Save customized templates for a variety of specific purposes. A fantastic time saver!
Create a Document - easily create a Google doc from any conversation in Gmail.
Undo Send - Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.
Preview Pane - Provides a preview pane next to your list of conversations, making mail reading faster and adding more context. You can easily switch between list view and preview pane view as needed.
OTHER HELPFUL GMAIL TRICKS & TIPS
If time is of the essence, learning a series of shortcuts for keystrokes that you repeat often can make a big difference. Go to your inbox and simply type ? (or Shift /) and a shortcut chart will appear. Wula!
This feature is the key to a clean inbox. Simply select an email and click “archive” for any messages that you don’t necessarily want to delete, but don’t warrant creating an individual label. They will be out of sight but still fully searchable when you need to find them again.
Change Button Icons to Text
The buttons in Gmail’s command bar transformed into graphics when Gmail rolled out it’s new look in 2011. I find it much easier to view them as text labels instead of little pictures that quite frankly don’t appear to be very intuitive. To switch them to text format, go to the gear icon on the top right of the Gmail screen, click the drop down arrow and select “settings”. Under the ‘General’ tab, scroll down to ‘Button Labels’ and click ‘Text’. That should do it!
Gmail has always been an outstanding, free email service, and now it can practically be your company’s all in one foundation for networking, correspondence and record keeping. Give these tools a try, then share a comment to let us know your favorites or suggest other tools that you've found helpful.