Many email marketers who use Microsoft Outlook rarely focus on the one thing that that almost always results in increased responses: contact list segmentation. In this post I am going to show you how you can use Outlook categories to segment your contacts.
What is segmentation and why does it work?
Segmentation basically means dividing your email list into smaller groups (or segments). Each contact can be part of one or more segments.
So why does segmentation work? It allows you to give your contacts more personalized attention.
You are now able to send out more specific emails targeted to people who are interested in that particular topic. This always results in higher open rates, click rates and response rates.
It also means less annoyed customers received emails on topics that they are not interested in.
How to you segment your list?
We will use Categories (a feature built into Outlook) to segment our contacts.
1. Make a list of the Segments (Categories) that you will use
What are the key elements to distinguish your customers? It could be product, company size, region… whatever makes sense to your business.
Make a list of these segments. For example, we have a range of products at Standss that are reasonably different. We could therefore segment our list based on products.
- Email Merge PRO for Outlook
- Quick File for Outlook
- Send Guard for Outlook
- Email Tags for Outlook
- eeminders for Outlook
- Email Notes for Outlook
I also like to keep a separate segment of our Volume License Customers since they have further requirements for deployment, control and support.
Volume License Customers
2. Add the Categories to Outlook’s Master List (of Categories)
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize and then click All Categories.
Click New and enter the Name of your category. You can also choose a color if you want but I generally select None. Click OK.
Hint: You will see that I have named my category ml_EmailMerge instead of just EmailMerge. I use the ml_ in front of all my segment names to indicate that they are my mailing list categories. The master category list appears in all parts of Outlook (emails, appointments, tasks etc). By putting the ml_ in front of my mailing list categories, I can get them to appear together in the list when they are displayed alphabetically.
3. Assign your contacts to the relevant segments.
Go to your Contacts folder in Outlook.
Right-click over a contact and click Categorize.
You can click the category from the list or you can click All Categories and then select multiple categories for a contact if you want.
Repeat for all relevant contacts.
Viewing Your Various Segments
Once you have your contacts segmented, you will need Outlook to show you the contacts by segment so that you can use them easily.
Go to your Contacts Folders.
Click on the View Tab and Click on Categories (which will be in the Arrangement group)
Your contacts will now be displayed grouped by Categories. Contacts will be displayed more than once if they are in more than one category.
You can simply type the name of the Category in the Outlook Search box and only matching contacts will be shown
How to use your Categories/Segments in Sales and Marketing Emails
The next time you need to send out an email that is relevant only to a particular segment, display the list of contacts in the segment as explain above.
Then create your email and send it out only to the people in that segment.
I guarantee that you will get much better responses rates… and you will also get less emails from annoyed contacts asking to be removed from your list (since you will only be contacting people who are genuinely interested in your email).
Fine-Tuning Outlook emails to segments (Better Responses in Less Time)
If you want to get even better response rates, you should send out personally addressed emails to your contacts.
This means that each email should only have one contact’s name in the To field. You may even want to personalise the email with the contact’s name and other details.
This can be time-consuming to do if you try and do it by hand.
We recommend Email Merge Pro for Outlook. Email Merge Pro installs inside Outlook and uses a step-by-step Wizard to quickly create and send out personalized emails to selected contacts.
Best of all, the emails will still be sent out from Outlook instead of looking like emails from a mailing service. This is extremely important, particularly if you are dealing with larger customers.
Email Merge Pro has full support for Categories so that you can easily send out emails to segments when you need to.
Do you find yourself turning up at appointments late (or stressfully on time)? The problem may not be related to having too much to do but instead to how you schedule your appointments.
The secret to stress-free appointments is what happens before and after the appointment!
For me appointments are basically things I need to do at a specific time and day. These include work related meetings with others, work related things I need to get done on my own, as well as personal things such as taking my son to music or playing golf.
I used to find myself frequently “arriving” late to appointments until one of my new golfing friends told me that 4 PM golf means you should be ready to tee off (start playing) at 4, not arrive in the car park at 4.
Learning to be on time for golf has helped me discover some rules that have helped me use appointments in a more productive and less stressful way.
1: Is there enough time to finish off from any previous appointment (before this appointment)
Do you need to make notes or schedule follow-up actions after the previous appointment is over?
If you’ve been working on something on your own, have you allocated enough time to save your files in the correct folders etc?
Have you allocated enough time to do that before the start of the next appointment?
2: Have you given yourself enough time to prepare or to get to the meeting?
If the meeting is somewhere else, have you allocated enough time for travel (and taken into account the amount of traffic at that time of day)?
This is one I frequently got wrong when taking my son to guitar lessons. I underestimated the time to pick him from school, take him for a milk shake (might as well make the guitar lesson a weekly father-son event), and then end up at the lesson.
If it’s a sales meeting, have you given yourself enough time to get familiar with the client and the offer?
3: Have you given yourself enough time after the appointment?
This is the same as #1 but for this meeting instead of the previous appointment. It is liberating to finish a meeting knowing it’s finished (instead of knowing that you need to take time out later to make notes etc).
What does this mean for your Outlook Appointments?
Before you set an appointment in your Outlook Calendar, make sure that there is enough space between that appointment and the ones before and after.
If it’s an appointment with yourself then you can create a meeting slot that includes the before and after time.
If it’s an appointment with someone else, then you probably want to make the start of the meeting the actual meeting time. In that case make sure that there is enough free space before the meeting for you to travel, prepare etc.
Outlook also lets you set Reminders for appointments. By default this is set to 15 minutes but you can change this to whatever you want for individual appointments.
Change the reminder to give yourself enough before the meeting to get to the meeting on time and fully prepared.
Final thoughts…Don’t Schedule too much into your day!
There is a lot of research that now shows that we can get much more done if we schedule regular breaks during our day as well. That was probably the idea behind morning tea and afternoon tea (or the equivalent coffee breaks in modern times).
So remember to take a break.
I hope this tip helps you to get more important things done with less stress.
Please leave a comment if you find this useful… or have your own tips to better appointments.
Happy New Year to all our readers and their family and friends.
Hope you all had a great holiday de-stressing (hopefully not distressing) yourself and gearing up for the year ahead.
I understand it will be awhile till we all get back to actual work so we will keep the first post relatively simple.
I will just provide a quick overview of the year 2014 and the important events that took place in case you missed it… and also provide some links to the favourite post of our readers.
Mid-last year we launched a major upgrade to one of our bestselling email management tool Quick File for Outlook. The response to QuickFile for Outlook version 5 was so positive and over-whelming… I guess the credit for this goes to all the users who contributed with their awesome ideas and recommendations and pushed us to release another major upgrade after 5 years since version 4 was released.
Not just that… overtime we realized that different people used QuickFile differently based on how they work in Outlook and what they do…
On one end we had users who like to simply use QuickFile to file and organize their inbox and sent items while on the other end of the spectrum we had high end users who required much more than just filing.
To cater for all the different user groups, we created 3 different versions of QuickFile:
- QuickFile Standard
- QuickFile Pro
- QuickFile Ultimate
To view the difference between the versions and choose which one best suits your end… visit the Quickfile Comparsion page.
New to QuickFile: If email overload is a problem for you… if you think that you’re not getting the right work done because of the amount of emails in your Inbox… you MUST try this. You can download a fully functional 30 day trial and see for yourself.
Existing QuickFile users: If you missed out on the upgrade, you can view the upgrade options and upgrade to the QuickFile version 5 that works best for you now.
Now let’s have a look at the top 3 Outlook tips blog post for 2014. This posts have been selected based on the NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO READ THE POST!!!
TOP POST#1: Reasons why you should avoid using BCC for emails + Alternative Solution
Outlook users BCC emails for two main reasons… sending sales/marketing emails or sending someone a copy of the email without letting the other recipients know. We strongly recommend that you DON’T use the BCC field for either purpose. Why?
Find out the 3 main reasons plus what you can do instead of using the BCC field…
TOP POST#2: How to NOT Email Yourself when using Reply-to-All in Outlook
This post was a result of an interesting question that one of the readers asked
“Outlook includes my email address in the To field when I do a Reply-All. Clearly I do not want to email myself but Outlook lacks the intelligence to not add my email address to the email. Do you have a solution?…”
The reply to this was YES!!!
Find out what the solution was…
TOP POST#3: Saving (Exporting) Outlook emails with your other files
Here’s a quick tip on how you can save one or more emails outside of Outlook. This is very useful if you want to save your emails on your hard disk in Client folders along with Word files etc.
There are two formats by default which you can save the emails in Outside of Outlook, these are Outlook Message format and Text only, but in this post we also showed you how to save the emails in PDF format…
Well that pretty much raps up 2014 for us… time sure flew and without even realising we are now in year 2015.
The Standss team is ready for the year ahead and as always… we have big plans for this year as well and we will be notifying you of this once ready…
The whole Standss Team would like to once again which everyone a Happy New Year and great success for the year ahead… Thank you for being part of the Standss family and we wish to continue serving you the way we have and offering you solutions that saves you time and makes you productive.
Till next time… have a better Outlook.
I have a habit of reading my email to myself while typing it and I’m sure a lot of us do the same.
we usually read to ourselves what we are typing, but often we say the correct word to ourselves but type the wrong word.
How many times have you used Outlook to send out emails with correctly spelt but the wrong words in them?
In a earlier post, I showed you how you can avoid common spelling mistakes using Outlook’s Autotext.
Here is another great way to avoid spelling mistakes…
Get Outlook itself to READ OUT the email to you!!!
Let’s look at the example we discussed in the earlier post again:
“Our sincere apologize for any inconvenience caused”
The word “apologize” was spelled correctly but was incorrectly used. The correct word was “apologies”.
These mistakes are easy to pick up if you use Outlook’s built-in (but well hidden) feature that will read the email aloud to you.
Windows already has the ability to read text back to you. Here’s how you can add a button inside Outlook to read out selected text to you.
Note: The following tip works in Outlook 2010 and 2013 only.
- Create a new email.
- Right Click on a blank area of the Ribbon
- Click Customize Quick Access Tool Bar
- Choose Commands not in Ribbon in drop down
- Scroll and select Speak
- Click Add
- Click OK
Outlook will add a new button to your Quick Access Tool Bar as shown below.
How to use the button to get Outlook to read the email aloud to you
- Create a new email
- Type some text
- Select the text that you want read out to you.
- Click the new button that was added in the previous steps.
Outlook will read the email out to you.
You may also want to add the “Speak Selected Text” button to your Inbox so that you read emails that you are reading in your Reading Pane.
Go to your Inbox and follow the steps above to add the button.
Finally you can also open an email that you have received and follow the same steps so that you can hear any email that you have received or already sent.
This simple tip has improved the quality of our emails here at Standss… hope it does the same for you.
I read an interesting case study today about how a company called CloudEndure achieved 58% open rate and high quality leads by sending personalized emails to prospective leads. I would recommend that you read this article as it is a perfect example of How to generate quality leads and why personalized email marketing works.
The way that we gather insight about our leads may vary from business too business but in today’s post, we will look at a simple solution that will allow you to send out personalized emails to improve your open rates and conversions.
But first let’s understand why sending personalized emails is better?
Emails sent the wrong way are MUCH more likely to be blocked by the many levels of junk email filters that we all have (even if we don’t always know they’re there).
Junk/SPAM Mail Filters have different levels of sophistication but they all follow a few basic rules including:
- An email with a lot of recipients is more likely to be spam than an email addressed to only my valid email address and…
- An email that is NOT addressed to me directly is more likely to be SPAM than one that is addressed to my email address.
Many Outlook users don’t realize the multiple levels of junk email filters stopping both junk and often real emails from getting to our Inboxes.
- Level 1 – Internet Service Provider: Most ISPs now have Junk Mail Filters setup on their servers. These filters do their work even before the email gets to our computers i.e. they remove the email to a Junk Folder that can only be accessed via the Internet.
- Level 2 – Anti Spam Software: Many users have additional anti-spam software on their computers that automatically remove and quarantine suspected spam emails.
- Level 3 – Outlook’s built-in Junk Email Filter: Finally Outlook has its own Junk Mail filter which moves suspected junk emails to Outlook’s own Junk E-mail folder.
If you’re still sending out your Sales and Marketing Emails from Outlook by putting them all in the To, CC and BCC fields of one email then guess what… your email is most likely lost in a Junk Email Folder somewhere… it is NOT reaching the Reader.
Very few users bother checking the various Junk Mail folders… if your email is getting blocked then chances are it’s going to stay blocked.
Email Merge! You can use Outlook to create and send out personalized copies of the same email to many people.
Outlook has some basic mail merge functionality built into it (it uses Word to do the merge) but this does have some limitations including:
- being harder to use
- not being able to customize the Subject line and
- not being able to send out your emails in smaller lots (which again impacts deliverability).
The easiest way to do this is using our own EmailMerge for Outlook addin. Our addin installs inside Microsoft Outlook and then provides a step-by-step Wizard that will guide you through your first email merge.
Hope you find this tip useful with your own email marketing campaigns.
Do you know of other ways to improve open rates and conversion?
Share it with our readers our leaving a comment below.
It can be quite annoying when you are in the middle of something important and you keep getting notifications “you’ve got email”.
Those small pop-up windows on the right bottom corner can really divert your attention especially when you are working on something that is very stressful or the work has come to a point which required a difficult decision… and you were hoping to find something easier to do in your Inbox… something to help you avoid the difficult decision… imagine getting a notification “Happy Hour Tonight from 6pm to 7pm” or “50% off on all iphones”
I have personally turned off this notifications except for very important emails for example emails from clients and families.
In this post today, I will show you how to set email notifications for important emails only.
Firstly you will have to turn off all the desktop alerts:
- Open Outlook
- Click on the File tab > Options
- Click on Mail in the left pane
- Scroll down to the message arrival section and UNTICK the option for “Display a Desktop Alert
- Click OK
This will now turn off all email notifications.
Next… we will be creating rules which will display the email notification for important emails only that meet the set criteria.
- Go to your Inbox.
- In Outlook 2013/2010, go to the Home tab and click Rules > Manage Rules and Alerts
In Outlook 2007/2003, Click Tools > Rules and Alerts to display the Rules dialog box.
- Click the New Rule button to display the Rules Wizard screen.
- Click “Display mail from someone in the New Item Alert Window”. (A on the picture above)
- Click on “people or distribution list” (B on the picture above) to display the Rule Address screen. In Outlook 2010/2013, it would say “people or public group“)
- Select someone from the list or type in the person’s email address in the From: field.
- Click OK to go back to the Rules Wizard screen.
- Click “a specific message” (C on the picture above)
- Type in what you want the alert message to say and click OK e.g. Email from Boss!
- Click Finish
The next time you receive an email from that person (like your Client/Boss), Outlook will display a message over everything else that you are working on.
This simple trick has helped me stay focused on real work and also made me efficient in deciding which emails need my attention first and which ones can wait.
I hope it works well for you too.
If you find this tip useful or have your own tips for better email notifications, please leave a comment on the blog.
Here’s a quick tip that you can use to get Outlook to automatically display special emails in a different colour so that they stand out in your Inbox (or any other folder)
In this example we will be using this technique to display in green bold any emails that you have added notes to (using Email Notes for Outlook).
Step By Step
1. Go to the Folder in which the emails are. This can be the Inbox or any other folder.
2. In Outlook 2013/2010, Click View on the Ribbon and then click View Settings.
On all other versions of Outlook, on the menu at the top, Click View – Arrange By – Current View – Customize Current View to display the Customize View screen.
3. In Outlook 2013/2010, Click the Conditional Formatting… button
On all other versions of Outlook, click Automatic Formatting… button
4. Click the Add Button
5. Enter a name e.g. “Emails with Notes”
6. Click the Font button and using the resulting screen to choose how you want emails to be highlighted (I chose the colour Green and Bold). Click OK to return to the previous screen.
7. Click the Conditions… button to display the Filter screen.
8. Click the Advanced Tab
9. Click the Field button > User-defined fields in Inbox > EmailNotes
10. For the Condition: drop-down, select “is (exactly)” and for the Value: enter “Yes”.
11. Click Add to List
12. Now OK your way back to the Outlook Inbox
You should now notice that any emails with notes would appear in the format you have defined.
In this example we have used this technique to highlight emails with notes linked to them. You can also use the same technique to highlight any emails that are important to you (e.g. emails from you main clients/manager etc).
Creating contacts in Outlook is very easy and even before you might realize, you would have hundreds or thousands of them in your Outlook Contacts folder. It is also likely that most of the contacts might have some relation to the others for example working in the same company. Now if the company relocates, would you want to go and change the address for every contact who works in that company? I know I wouldn’t!
Here is an easier method that will let you update the general information for multiple contacts that are linked with one another.
To start off, we simply update the information for one contact (in this case the Business Address) and then Save and Close that contact. Then we modify the view of the Contacts folder so that all the contacts are grouped by that updated field. So for our example of the Business Address that would be;
1. In Outlook 2013/2010, Click View > View Settings…
In all other versions of Outlook, Click View-> Arrange By-> Customize Current View…
2. Click on Group By…
3. At the bottom set the “Select available fields from:” to “Address fields”
4. At the top set the “Group items by” to “Business Address” field
5.Click OK and then OK again.
Now you’ll notice that all your contacts are grouped by the Business Address. Select the contacts who still have the old address, drag and drop them into the group of your updated contact. Outlook will now automatically update the Business Address field for all the contacts you added to the group.
The above example was for updating the Business address but you can follow the same steps to update any other outlook fields for multiple contacts
Do you have any other methods of updating multiple contacts? Let us know by leaving a comment.
I was at a friends office yesterday and observed him rummaging through his desk looking for email printouts… on which he had hand-written notes. We got into a discussion on why we need to make notes on emails at all… and a way of making notes on emails directly in Outlook.
Why do we need to take notes on emails?
It turns out that many conversations are started via email… and then get added to by our own thoughts or phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Adding notes (handwritten or electronic) to emails just makes it easier to refer to the FULL conversation or take action later.
1. Emails from people outside our own companies are often followed by phone calls… it is convenient to record follow-up notes directly on the email so that all the information is in one place.
2. We often delegate things to other people in our team via email… and then clarify them via phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email makes it easier to check if a delegated task has been fully completed.
3. Similarly we may have work that has been delegated to us via email initially but then followed up by phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Recording details directly on the email improves our chances of carrying out the delegated tasks fully.
4. Like many people I have a habit of quickly scanning through my emails… if an email relates to something I can do easily, I take action… otherwise I work on it later but… I may have ideas immediately and it is useful to record it with the email… ready for me to use later. This way I don’t lose thoughts or ideas related to an email.
One way of writing notes on emails is to do what my friend used to do… print out the emails… handwrite on them… and hope you can find them later.
The downsides of this method are that we waste a lot of paper… and the emails and notes are difficult to find when we need them
There is an easier way… use Email Notes for Outlook… an Outlook addin that adds a button inside Outlook for you so that you can easily add, view, edit and print notes on emails… all from inside Outlook.
You can learn more about and download a fully functional version of Email Notes for Outlook from our website.
Here are what some existing customers say about Email Notes for Outlook.
I help people with insurance and Email Notes makes it so much easier for me to work. I make the note on the email lead and it makes it so much easier to keep myself organized. Those notes have made a difference in my closing ratio. – Jim Lambert
EmailNotes gives me an immediate way to jot a reminder to myself connected with the e-mail. Absolutely hassle-free installation and use with Outlook. Wonderful utility!! – Pam Rolph
I don’t have to print the email message, hand write a note on it, and then keep track of it on my desk. Eliminates extra desktop paper and the info doesn’t get accidentally put in a job folder lost forever. – Patrick J. O’Leary, Estimator/Project Manager
Hope you find this tip useful.
Let us know what you think about the tip or Email Notes by leaving a comment below.
This again is NOT something that I do or recommend. I prefer to leave received emails exactly as they are. However several users asked if it was possible to change the Email Subject so that it is easier to find the email later.
- Open the email by double-clicking on it.
- In Outlook 2013/2010 , go to the Message tab > click the Actions button under the Actions group > click Edit Message
- For Outlook 2007 > Click Other Actions -> Edit.
- For Outlook 2003 > click Edit -> Edit message.
- Now make any changes that you need to (The Subject can also be changed even though it appears to be read-only).
- Click Save (or close the email and you will be prompted to Save it).
NOTE: I don’t personally change the Subject of emails. Instead I use Email Tags to tag my emails with keywords for searching later.
Let us know of any other ways you use to easily find your emails in Outlook by leaving a comment below.
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