Tag Archives: Outlook as a Business Tool

Managing Projects in Outlook using Appointments and Tasks

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

In the post last week, we looked at some of the ways that you can customize outlook to suit your style of working and also effective handle the pile of emails in your inbox.

Other than emails, Outlook users also use the calendar and task to manage their daily lives and projects… and yet Outlook does not give us an easy way to manage projects inside Outlook. Outlook users frequently ask us how they can see all appointments and tasks that make up a project in one place.

Why is this important?  Most work or projects are made up of a series of steps all being related to each other. As we finish a step, it is important to know what the next steps are to get the project completed. Things also don’t always go according to plan… and we need to see what else gets affected when things change.

Our research showed that there is no simple way to organize and view related tasks and appointments under projects… so we added this functionality to our Outlook Project Management addin Smart Schedules for Outlook.

With Smart Schedules for Outlook you can:

  1.  Assign existing (or new) tasks and appointments to projects
  2. Quickly see all tasks and appointments for a project at the click of a button.

Here are step by step instructions showing you just how easy this can be:

Assign existing (or new) tasks and appointments to projects

  1.  Open Outlook and go to the Calendar/Task folder that the existing appointment/task is located in
  2. Select the appointment/task
  3. Click on Assign Project button on the Smart Schedules toolbar/ribbon. This will display the following screen:

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 Select an existing project from the Project list.

  • Note: You can also type in a new project name if you would like to create a new project and add this selected appointment/task to that project.
  • Click OK.

Quickly see all tasks and appointments for a project at the click of a button

Smart Schedules Project Centre makes it easy to see all appointments and tasks that you have associated with a project.

On the Smart Schedules toolbar, click Project Centre

  • From the Project drop-down, select the Project to which you assigned the appointment or task
  • You will now be able to view the appointment or task assigned to the project and all other related appointments and tasks for the project as shown below:

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Next Steps…

Smart Schedules for Outlook was designed with the help of almost 20,000 Outlook users. Try it for yourself today and tell us what you think.

Download a fully functional version of Smart Schedules for Outlook.

Watch a short video of our Outlook based Project Management tool (Smart Schedules)

I hope you find this tip useful managing your projects in Outlook.

If you know of other ways to manage projects using Outlook, share it with our readers by leaving a comment below.

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Customize Outlook to Work the way you want

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

First of all Happy New Year to all our readers and welcome back to work J

I’m sure you all have enjoyed the holidays and now recharged to work through another year.

Your inbox is sure to be full of emails piled up while you were away and so in this first post for the year, we will show you some of the ways that you can customize outlook to suit your style of working and also effectively handle the pile of emails in your inbox.

Tip 1: Auto Highlight Important Emails in Outlook

Not all emails in your inbox will require immediate attention for example newsletters, so how do you pick out which ones are urgent and which ones can be dealt with later?

Outlook has an in-built feature which automatically highlights by color coding emails so that you remain focused and easily identify important emails from the hundreds of emails you receive.

For me, I’m only interested in emails that have the word Outlook in them.

I’ve setup Outlook so that it automatically highlights (Red Bold) any email with the word Outlook in it.

 This way you don’t have to waste time scanning through hundreds of emails.

Here’s how to auto-highlight important emails in Outlook

Tip 2: Mark Outlook Emails READ only after you ACTUALLY Read them

 If you are not using the auto highlight option above, you would likely be clicking through each email in your inbox to find the ones that you need to deal with BUT…

As you are clicking through your emails, Outlook is marking them as READ, which means they will no longer appear BOLD for you to clearly identify which ones are still left to be ACTUALLY READ or dealt with.

Here is a simple setting in Outlook which lets you set a minimum time that you need to be on an email before it is marked as read (I have set mine to 5 second):

 Tip 3: Easy Email Search Tricks in Outlook

 In the old days, finding an Outlook email meant wading through folders and manually searching for the correct email. Finding emails now is EASY particularly if you know some tricks to help you get more accurate search results. Here are a few of my favorite search tricks in Outlook.

I hope you find this tips useful in working through your emails this year.

If you have other tips for handling emails in Outlook, please share it with our readers by leaving a comment below

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Why images in your marketing emails can reduce response rates

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Adding images to your sales and marketing emails can make your emails look attractive and engaging but ONLY if the images and your well-crafted HTML email appears the same in the recipient’s inbox as you intend it too…

Using images in your marketing emails incorrectly can cause a reduction in response rates. Here’s why:

  • Plain text emails get through spam filters more easily (ultimately it depends on content so your plain text emails will still get caught if you are sending out obvious spam).
  • Email clients like Outlook do not display graphics in emails by default because spammers use them for tracking purposes etc. Therefore if you have your main message only in an image (without repeating it in plain text), then your readers may never actually see it.
  • Many email users are now using the preview pane to scan through emails before deciding which emails deserve their attention. If you have a graphic at the top that is not meaningful then your emails may be skipped.
  • Not all your readers are using the same version of Outlook as you are… in fact many may not be using Outlook at all (think Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail etc). In our experience images often cause HTML emails to display differently in different browsers which can spoil the look you want to achieve with your emails.

This is one of the main reasons that most of the professionally designed templates in our Email Merge for Outlook addin have little or no images in them. Instead we have used HTML to create a professional look that displays properly and looks great in all the email programs that your readers will be using.

I hope you find this tip useful with your email marketing campaigns this holiday season and improving your response rates.

Let us know if you have other techniques to improve the email response rate by leaving a comment below.

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Should you use images in Outlook sales and marketing emails?

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Like many other email clients, images are turned off by default in Outlook. What does this meant to you if you are sending sales and marketing emails to Outlook users?

First… why are images turned off in Outlook?

  1. It helps users avoid viewing potentially offensive material (when external content is linked to the message)
  2. It helps to keep malicious code from damaging the data on your computer.
  3. It stops spammers from tracking which users actually opened their emails.

You can find more information on why images are turned off in Outlook at this link.

How will recipients see your images?

Most recipients will NOT have the images displayed when they receive your email. Instead they will see a red X.

display image

In order to view your images they will need to MANUALLY right click over the space where the image should be displayed and then click Download Pictures.

Can you make sure that recipients will see the images in the emails you send?

NO! There are settings in Outlook which you can use to display all images, or images from selected recipients but… you cannot control them as the sender.

Each user controls how they want to view emails that they receive by changing their settings BUT…

A study by Jared Pool shows that less than 5% of users have changed any settings at all.

So what should an Email Marketer do?

  1. Assume that users have not changed their settings… and that they cannot see your images.
  2. Build a relationship with recipients by sending useful emails so they actually want to read your emails. This may mean sending emails with more text than images to start with.
  3. Use colors, highlighting and other HTML ideas to format your emails. Don’t just rely on images
  4. Structure your email with a mixture of text and images so that recipients actually WANT to see your emails.
  5. TEST the emails by sending them to yourself. Make sure that the view images setting in your Outlook is OFF. Do you see enough in the email to want to view the images?

I hope that this blog post helps you make better use of images in your emails.

If you do send a lot of sales and marketing emails out to customers, you may also want to look at Email Merge for Outlook.

Email Merge is already used by thousands of Outlook users around the world to improve deliverability and response rates for sales and marketing emails.

DEFER Outlook Emails till you ACTUALLY need them (no additional software required)

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Friday, June 14th, 2013

Your email inbox is where you spend most of your time and it is one busy place to be especially if you are receiving hundreds of emails per day.

Not all emails you receive need immediate actions or responses so you might want to defer it for a later time.

If you just leave the email in your inbox, you are likely to forget because it might just get buried under all the emails that you continue receiving throughout the day.

So how can you ensure that you are reminded to work on an email later when you are ready?

Here are a few ways to automatically get reminded to work on an email that you have received but do not need/want to work on till some date/time in the future.

Option 1: Flag the email with a reminder

This is an OK option if you don’t mind keeping the email in your Inbox (If you want to move the email out of your Inbox, option 2 might be more suited for you).

  • Right click on the email, click Follow-up and then click Add Reminder.

outlook email reminder

  • Enter the relevant information in the screen and click OK.

The problems with this method are:

  • The email actually stays in your Inbox which can be a distraction and affect your productivity.
  • You can’t add any notes to the original email (unless you are using Email Notes for Outlook)

Option 2: Convert the Email to your Calendar or Task List (drag-and-drop)

Many Outlook users do not realize this but you can convert an email to a Task or Calendar by dragging it to the Task or Calendar folder.

A new Task or Calendar Item will be created and opened with the email content in it. You can set the appropriate date to be reminded.

I prefer to drag-and-drop using the right (instead of left) mouse button. This gives 3 options when I drop the email:

  • Copy here as Task with Text
  • Copy here as Task with Attachment
  • Move here as Task with Attachment

I choose either Copy or Move with Attachment options. This way the new Task has the email attached to it. I can simply double-click the attached email to respond.

I hope you find this tip useful in getting more organized.

Do you know of other ways to better manage your emails in Outlook?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Email Marketing Tip: Using Outlook Categories to Segment your Customers/Prospects (for better sales result)

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Have you heard of the phrase “ONE SIZE FITS ALL”?

This works quite well for devising policies or procedures within companies or single departments where individuals work for a single goal BUT…

If you are applying this strategy for your email marketing campaigns, you are likely to be annoying your customers/prospects by sending them emails/information that they don’t need.

As a result, prospects might unsubscribe from your list even before you get a chance to offer them something that would have been valuable to them and ultimately this could lead to a LOST SALE in future.

When it comes to email marketing, the phrase needs a slight tweak.

The phrase should say “NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL”

Not everyone on your list of customers and prospects are interested in everything you sell so it is important that you group them into different segments… and then send different emails based on the needs of each group.

Outlook has a very powerful feature called Categories that you can use to segment your contacts.

Unfortunately it is not as easy as it could be to do email merges with this!

Users of our Email Merge PRO for Outlook software can easily use the Email Merge Wizard to both send out emails to particular segments/categories and to maintain their mailing lists.

The Email Merge Wizard lets you save your selected contacts to a new or existing category easily inside the Wizard.

outlook email merge categories

Check out the short demo video on our website or test drive Email Merge Pro by downloading the 30 day trial.

I hope you find this tip useful.

If you have other email marketing tips, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Updated Outlook Reply protection is much more than just a warning prompt (Outlook 2007, 2010 and now Outlook 2013)

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, June 6th, 2013

We have updated the Reply Guard feature in Send Guard so it fully supports Outlook 2013.

What is Reply Guard and why do users need it even when newer versions of Outlook have built in warnings?

How many times have you accidently done a Reply-All (when you really meant to do reply) and disclosed confidential information to people who should not have received/seen it… or maybe you accidentally did a Reply instead of a Reply-all and missed some people?

Send Guard protects you from accidental Reply-Alls with much more than just a warning prompt.

Whenever you click Reply or Reply-to-All on an email with multiple recipients, the Reply Guard feature in the Outlook addin will display a list of all the original recipients so that you can visually see and change who your reply is going to.

outlook reply-to-all

If you’ve accidentally addressed the email to the wrong people, just untick them. If you’ve forgotten to include some people, just tick them.

Reply Guard virtually ELIMINATES any chance of you replying or replying-to-all to the wrong people!

Send Guard for Outlook works with Outlook 2007, 2010 (32 and 64 Bit) and Outlook 2013 (32 and 64 Bit).

The latest version of SendGuard (1.1.4898) now fully supports Outlook 2013’s new Inline Response feature.

You can download the latest version of Send Guard for Outlook from here.

This update is FREE for Existing users of SendGuard. Install it over your old version and your registration information will automatically be retrieved.

Haven’t tried Send Guard yet? Find out more about Send Guard for Outlook and download a fully functional trial today.

Email Organizer: fantastic time-saver for client or project based filing system in Outlook

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, May 30th, 2013

With almost 80% of business correspondence now taking place by e-mail, you NEED a good system for filing your e-mails.

outlook email organizer

The simplest way to organize your emails is to duplicate your paper filing system inside Outlook.

Like other Outlook users, I’m sure most of you were also printing and filing copies of important emails into folders for different clients or products, and it worked quite well because all your filed documents for a particular client or project were in one place and accessible for future reference.

That is the same system you need to implement for your email filing in Outlook, create separate folders for each client or project and file your emails (incoming and outgoing) to this dedicated folders.

Filing your e-mails like this has a lot of benefits… even if you print out copies of critical e-mails for future reference.

  • BENEFIT 1: You don’t have to learn anything new to use this filing system (chances are your office has been filing your paper files using this system for years)
  • BENEFIT 2: You can quickly see all e-mails for a client or project in ONE PLACE. You can use Outlook’s built in sorting to see the time-line of e-mails etc.
  • BENEFIT 3: It is super-easy to export or archive projects. By filing in this way, you can use Outlook’s built-in tools to easily export e-mails out into a separate file if you need to. You can now file an electronic copy of all e-mails with your Word and Excel documents once a project is completed.

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WARNING! Your e-mail filing system may FAIL … and a solution

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This e-mail filing system clearly works. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be filing your paper files this way.

Yet most users are not able to continue filing their e-mails this way for very long. Why?

The reason is simple.

  • It takes too much effort to drag each and every e-mail out of the Inbox and into the correct folder.
  • It’s too easy to forget to go to the Sent Items folder to move e-mails out of there into the correct folders.
  • It’s not as easy to delegate e-mail filing as it is to delegate paper filing.

That’s why we created QuickFile to solve the above email management problems.

QuickFile 4Outlook is an inexpensive email organizer that works inside Outlook by adding two buttons called QuickFile and Send&File to your Outlook. It doesn’t change Outlook in any other way and it won’t change the way you have always used Outlook.

QuickFile mail organizer is a fantastic time-saver for anyone who wants to use a client or project based filing system in Outlook.

Please give QuickFile a try. This is the only add-on we know that can guarantee that your e-mails get filed properly.

If you have your own test methods of filing emails that has worked?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Keyword Shortcut to Create Outlook Email Reminders

By standss - Comments ( 2 ) Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

I’m not a big fan of using keyword shortcuts but with the number of emails I have to deal with and set reminders, I particularly like using this shortcut key to flag or set a reminder on the email.

I find this much easier than either finding the right button on the ribbon or right-clicking on the email.

It’s simple:

  • Select the email in your inbox (or any other folder)
  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+G to display the following screen:

adding outlook email reminders

  • Add a flag or reminder and click OK.

I hope you find this tip useful.

Do you have your own favorite keyboard shortcut?

Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Related Post

For those who are keyboard shortcut fans and also those who are looking to learn the Outlook keyboard shortcuts, you can get a list of the keyboard shortcuts in an earlier post on Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook

How to find Contact information Quick and Easy in Outlook

By standss - Comments ( 0 ) Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

In Outlook 2007 (and below), finding contact information (such as phone numbers, emails) was quick and easy thanks to the Find Contact drop-down on the toolbar.

This was lost in Outlook 2010/2013 as the toolbar was replaced by the ribbon but you can still get the “Find a Contact” option on the Outlook Quick Access Toolbar.

What is the Quick Access Toolbar? This is a row with few buttons that appear on the top-left-hand corner of the outlook screen. These icons will be displayed irrespective of which tab of the Ribbon you are on… and you can add your own icons/commands to it.

outlook quick access toolbar

To add “Find a Contact” to the toolbar:

  • Click on the arrow pointing downwards (as red circled in the image above)
  • Tick “Find a Contact” from the drop-down list.

Your toolbar will now show the Find a Contact option as show below (the screen maybe slightly different depending on your version of Outlook).

outlook find contact

Now if you need to make a call and don’t remember the person’s phone number, just type the contacts name (any part of the name) and outlook will provide a list of contacts matching your search.

Select the contact and press Enter. The contacts information (phone number, email etc) will be displayed.

Did you find this tip useful or do you have a better way of finding contacts quickly in Outlook 2010/2013?

Let us know by leaving a comment on the blog.