Most people these days have a shortage of time. If you are a micro business owner, you may be spending a lot of time in your email inbox. Odds are pretty good you are answering questions about your products or service over and over and over. This is a huge time suck.
A while ago, Google released a Lab feature for Gmail which has tons of time-saving uses. This miracle add-on is called Canned Responses.
In the simplest terms, canned responses are a way to save and send a pre-written emails. Most people are familiar with automatic out of office replies, canned responses can be used in much the same way. Paired with Gmail’s filtering system and you have a really powerful time-saving tool.
To get you started, below are a couple short videos and 3 possible uses.
A canned response can be set to reply with any response you choose to a specific keyword in an email, a subject line, email address, etc using filters.
To start using canned responses, you need to turn on this feature in your Gmail or Google Apps email account. Here is a quick video to show you how to do that.
The next step is to create a reply email. This is done by clicking Compose Mail in your Gmail or Google Apps inbox. Like you saw in the video, you simply need to type up the email just like normal and click Canned responses. In the drop down, you will see Save and under that, New canned response…
Pretty simple, right?
Use with Filters and Labels
Canned responses do not do everything by themselves; they need a helper. After you have typed out what you would like to say in your automatic reply, you will need to set up a filter and possibly a label.
You can have a bunch of canned responses setup for all sorts of reasons. With the amount of control to filter what responses automatically go where, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Part of the beauty of a canned response is, it works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Here are a few ways you may choose to use this Gmail Lab feature:
Customer service FAQ
Offering a product or service can generate similar questions from potential clients. An auto reply can be created to help with many of the repetitive email replies. Using a well crafted FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) in your reply will save you hours of typing and spare your sanity.
Selling a product or service can result in several people emailing about the same thing over and over.Utilizing filters, labels and canned responses to separate, store and reply with a predetermined email will almost be like having an assistant. These incoming requests can be sorted by a specific email address on your webpage, keyword, subject line or other criteria.
As an example, if you are selling an ebook, you can set up an email that is email@example.com. If you set up a filter to separate and reply to anything with firstname.lastname@example.org as the To: address, you can thank them for their interest, provide them with links to potentially answer their questions and add in a call to action so they may buy your eBook.
Another great way to use canned responses, is to create email templates. What I mean is, if you have a reoccurring email you may need to send, you can create a “fill in the blanks” email template. Do this for a weekly status report, a new client packet, thank you, or any other reason you would benefit from a pre-formatted email.
All 3 of these options will take a little bit of time initially to type up and some time here and there to refine. However, in the long run, you will save an amazing amount of time dealing with repetitive emails.
These are just a couple starter tips to get you started. What are your thoughts on using automatic replies or templates to save you time?
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