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.
You can reclaim a lot of your time and energy wasted on emails by automating repetitive tasks. Outlook has a built-in feature called Quick-Steps that makes it easy to create your own automations.
The easiest way to show you the power of QuickSteps is with an example.
Our company owns a property that is rented out. The property is managed by another company for us. When any repairs etc need to be carried out, they get the appropriate vendors to come in and do the work. Once the work is successfully completed they send us a copy of the vendor’s invoice so that we can pay the vendor directly. These emails are usually sent to me.
When I receive these emails, and assuming that everything is OK, I do the following:
1. Forward the email to my Accounts person and advise them to make the payment (Click Forward, type the person’s email address, type Please Pay and then click Send)
2. File a copy of the original email in a folder inside Outlook called Properties. (This can be done by dragging and dropping or using QuickFile for Outlook.
You can use QuickSteps to reduce all of the above to the CLICK OF ONE BUTTON.
Creating the QuickStep
On the Home tab of the Ribbon, click QuickSteps-New QuickStep -Forward To
Enter an appropriate name.
If I only wanted to forward the email (And not do the second filing step), I can simply enter the email address in the space provided and clicked Finish).
Click the Show Options hyperlink.
Enter an email address in the To field (or click the To button and choose an email address).
Enter any text that you want to be displayed in the email that will be forwarded.
The QuickStep now contains everything needed to Forward the email. Time to add the filing component.
Click Add Action
Choose Move to Folder and select the folder you want to move the email to.
Note on an Outlook Bug:
There is a bug in Outlook that sometimes prevents the QuickStep from being saved. Clicking Save does not give an error message but the screen does not close either. If this happens to you, the solution is to type the whole email address again (the email that was in the To field earlier).
Using the QuickStep
Using the QuickStep is easy.
Click QuickStep on the Ribbon and select the new QuickStep. Outlook will automatically carry out your programmed actions.
You can also right-click over the email in your Inbox and select QuickSteps from there.
Start automating today…
What do you do daily that you can use QuickSteps for? Let us know by leaving a comment in the blog below.
(While QuickSteps can assist with email filing as shown in the example above, if you have more than just a few folders, we recommend the QuickFile for Outlook addin.
What do you do when you get an email that you know can be better answered by someone else? Chances are you Forward the email. I recently found out about Redirects which are often more appropriate than Forwards. Here’s how to do a redirect and why it may be better than Forward.
When you forward an email to someone, and the person replies, the reply comes back to YOU and not the original sender, so then you’re stuck forwarding it again.
You can avoid being the messenger-in-between by doing a REDIRECT instead of a Forward.
To Redirect an Email in Outlook:
Open the email in its own Window (i.e. you can’t do this if you’re looking at the email in the Reading Pane)
Select the Message Tab and then click Actions (or More Move Actions depending in your version of Outlook).
Click Resend this Message.
The message You do not appear to be the original sender of this message. Are you sure you want to resend it? will be displayed. Click Yes.
Address the email to the person you want to send it to (and type any notes etc. that you want in the email).
What happens when the recipient receives the email and clicks Reply
When the recipient receives the email, it will show that it is from you but on behalf of the original sender.
Now when the he or she clicks Reply, the reply will go to the original sender instead of to you.
Some final thoughts:
If you still want to be included in the reply to the email then I recommend that you use Forward instead of Redirect but remember to CC the original sender of the email too.
However if you just want to pass on the email and then stay out of it, Redirect is the way to go.
Did you know about Redirects (I didn’t)? Do you think they are useful? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Have you ever pressed CTRL-F to find something (in Outlook) to discover that it does not work! For some reason CTRL-F does a Forward instead of a Find. Here’s a bit of history as to why this (strange) decision was made and alternative keyboard shortcuts to do a Find in Outlook.
CTRL-F is probably the best and most widely used Keyboard shortcut. Whether you’re using Excel, Word, Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, Chrome… the list goes on… CTRL-F brings up the Find dialog. Except in Outlook…
Why… Oh Why???
According to The Old New Thing the reason for this strange behaviour is Bill Gates.
What keyboard shortcuts can you use to Find in Outlook?
Unfortunately there is no way to change how Outlook handles CTRL-F. The two alternatives you can use are F4 or CTRL-SHIFT-F. By the way these shortcuts only seem to work when you have an actual email open (and not from a folder).
Thank you to reader Bruno for the following addition to this tip.
The easiest thing to do is press Ctrl+E, which brings you directly to the Search (= simple Find) function at the top of the Outlook window – and without needing to have an email open.
Hope you found the bit of history interesting. Feel free to rant by leaving a comment below.
Here’s a tip that may help to get your important (but not fun work done) and still leave you time to do your enjoyable work. The secret is based on structuring this work as if you were back in high school.
We all have things that we were created to do…. work that we enjoy doing.
It’s probably what we studied in college and what we started our careers doing. But..
Over the years, the roles have changed. Our responsibilities have included things that we don’t enjoy as much.
Our businesses need us to do other things too!
If you’re a lawyer… or an engineer… or a software developer… or in any creative field, you may find that over the years you have had to do more and more admin and sales work… in fact over time it may feel like you are spending more time doing that kind of work than what you actually signed up for.
Do you find yourself doing all kinds of unproductive things just to avoid making that important sales call, or looking at the accounts?
The type of things I do including checking emails, checking Facebook or going for a cup of coffee… any excuse will do!
This leads to TWO NEGATIVE results.
- The work that is important for the business does not get done and
- I find I don’t really enjoy the work that I normally would enjoy because (at the back of my mind) I feel guilty for not doing the work that needed to be done.
The solution turned out to be something very simple.
Schedule your (non-fun) work as if you were back in high school
Back when we were in school, we had different classes or periods. Maths was at 10 AM, English at 11 AM and so on. We spent time on all our important subjects because it was scheduled and done at a particular time.
I have found that I am much more productive if I use the same idea for the work that my business needs me to do (but I may not enjoy as much).
I have scheduled various 30 minute blocks of time into my week for Sales Emails, Team Mentoring, and Marketing Analysis. Some of these activities may get more than one period per week.
On the allocated time, I set aside what I am doing and focus on the “Subject” for 30 minutes. Sometimes the works gets done before the end of “class”.
Other times I keep going because I am in the flow and the work seems easy to do.
And if I am not in the flow, I work till the end of the “period” and then leave the subject for the next allocated time on my calendar.
This simple trick has helped me become much more productive. The work that is important to our business is now getting done.
A nice side effect has been that I find myself enjoying my work day much more as I no longer feel guilty for ignoring important work.
I hope that this tip helps you too. If you have other productivity tips, please share it with other readers by leaving a comment below.
The web is full examples of what the dangers to organization due to emails sent to the wrong email address (including one that may have led to a $1B settlement). What are the risks to your organization from these kinds of mistakes, and what you can do to manage those risks? We answer these questions and also look at a solution that several large companies are now implementing.
How do these mistakes occur?
These mistakes typically occur when a user accidentally sends an email to the wrong person. The normal reason for this would be that there may be two people with the same or similar names.
Unfortunately Outlooks Auto Complete list (which generally helps by displaying a list of matching names and email addresses as you begin to type) makes these kinds of mistakes even easier to make.
(Strategy) What can you do to reduce the risks from these kinds of mistakes?
It is probably impossible to eliminate mistakes of this kind altogether. Therefore your organization’s strategy should be based on:
- Configuring Outlook to reduce the chances that users will make these mistakes
- Be able to show (in the event of litigation etc.) that your organization took reasonable action to prevent mistakes of these kinds
What can you do:
The actual actions you can take include:
- Asking users to be more careful and pay more attentions before emails are sent out.
- Turning off Microsoft Outlook’s Auto-Complete feature.
While both of the above are theoretically good solutions, they may not work as well in the real world for most organization because:
- Irrespective of how careful people are, mistakes are inevitable (it’s part of being human).
- Auto-Complete is actually a very useful feature and it is painful and counter-productive to use Outlook without this turned on.
Is there a better solution?
Yes! Send Confirm is an Outlook addin that integrates inside Outlook and automatically prompts for confirmation before emails are sent out.
The domain is highlighted in red as the greatest damage can be caused if confidential information is sent to the wrong organization.
Send Confirm has been designed with the needs of both small and large companies in mind.
- The warning prompt can be customized based on corporate/legal guidelines and policies
- Special filters can be setup to control when the prompt gets displayed (external emails only, all emails etc)
- All settings can be set and deployed centrally
We’ve actually Send Confirm available to users for several years as part of Send Guard for Outlook. However at the request of several larger organizations, we have now packaged Send Confirm as a separate component to make it more cost-effective for wider deployment in organization.
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information on how Send Confirm can be used to protect your organisation.
Do you know where your emails are saved on your computer?
They may not be where you think they are. Here’s how you can find out where your emails are so that you can be sure that they are part of your backup plan.
Last week at the golf club, I spoke to a frustrated fellow golfer who had just lost all his emails…
The harddisk on his old computer had crashed… and when he used his backups top restore his data to his new computer, he was in for a shock.
His Outlook emails were not there… despite having a well-thought out and implemented plan for backing up his computer.
Because Outlook does not actually ask you to save emails in a particular location, it is easy to forget about them.
Where does Outlook save emails?
If your emails are hosted with Office 365 or MS Exchange then a copy of your current emails will be on your server. Hopefully your network administrator is backing them up.
However, if you are using a POP3 mail account (which many people still are) or if you are archiving emails outside of Exchange, you need to know where your emails are being saved.
All your emails are generally saved in one big data file (PST file… which is short for Personal Storage Table). Unfortunately Outlook does not always create this file in a folder that you would remember to backup.
Some users may also have multiple PST files with additional files for Archives etc.
To find out exactly where all your data files are in Outlook 2010/2013:
- Click File.
- On the Info Tab, click Account Settings and then Account Settings again.
- Click Data Files to display a list of all your currently connected data files as shown below.
Makes sure that you are backing up all the Outlook data files shown above.
Additional Tip: If you’re not using Exchange, you may want to put your main Outlook PST files in your Documents folder. Assuming that you’re backing up your Documents folder regularly, you should be safe.
Here’s a super shot quick and easy to hide or show the ribbon in Outlook. This is a useful tip if you want to make better use of your screen space but still use the buttons on the Ribbon too.
- To hide the Ribbon, simply press CTRL+F1
- To show the Ribbon, press CTRL+F1 again
Do you have your own keyboard shortcuts that you find useful… or tips on making better use of the Ribbon. Let us know by leaving a comment below. Related Posts Keyboard Shortcuts on Ribbons in Outlook 2010 (and 2007) Keyboard Shortcuts in all Versions of Outlook
I know that it’s only been a few weeks since we released the new version of QuickFile but we’ve had so much great feedback from users that we felt had to be implemented and put out there for you to use right now.
This update is free for all existing registered users of version 5.
Fixes and Features in this upgrade include:
- Show Sub folders: In previous versions of QuickFile, it was possible to see subfolders of a folder (after searching for it). We’ve put this feature back in Version 5 and done a separate blog post on how to use it.
- Remove suggestions: Folder recommendations in QuickFile are significantly more accurate in QuickFile Version 5. However there may be cases where you want to remove a suggestion. You can do this now by right clicking over the suggestion on the QuickFile screen as shown in this blog post.
- Significant speed improvement when moving emails: Some users found that QuickFile as a sometimes slow when moving emails. We’ve rewritten the moving code.
- Bug Fixes: There were a number of small bugs in other screens that have been tidied up.
Click to download the updated version (or a fully functional trial version) of the QuickFile Outlook addon.
Registered Users: Download the trial version and install it on your computer. It will automatically pick up your existing registration and settings.
New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.
QuickFile makes it easy to find a folder but what do you do if you need to see its subfolders too. Previous versions of QuickFile showed you the folders in a way that let you expand folders to show its subfolders. Here’s how to view subfolders in QuickFile Version 5.
Please note that this feature is only available in QuickFile 5.0.5252. If you need to, you can download the latest version of QuickFile for Outlook from here.
Open the QuickFile screen by clicking on QuickFile or Find & Goto on the ribbon.
Right click over any folder in the Best section.
Click Show Subfolders in Search Results.
The setting will be saved for you and used in all future searches. You can changes it by repeating the steps above.
Please let us know if you find this feature useful by leaving a comment below.
New to QuickFile: Click QuickFile for Outlook Version 5 for more information on the easiest way to file and find your emails in Outlook.