Hi, I’m John and I’m a recovering email-addict.
Today I’m going to share with you 6 actionable steps that my wife and I took to regain control over our inbox and our time after years of drowning in emails while supporting hundreds of thousands of readers, subscribers, customers, and students.
And not only will the process of dealing with emails become easier…
It will also help catapult your business by turning what used to be a cost on the balance sheet, into a profit center.
Let’s dive in
#1: Create Content And Support Audience At The Same Time
If you are just starting out as a blogger or podcaster, you might feel like you spend all this time creating content.. just to hear crickets from the other end.
But with consistency, you’ll start to get comments… likes… shares…
And eventually it will get to the point when you spend all your time answering comments, emails, and questions…
And you never make the time to do the thing that brought you the success in the first place: creating content!
So this first tip is to flip the situation, and turn your content creation INTO audience time as well.
How do we do this?
Make a commitment to yourself and your audience:
“Hey guys, I absolutely love answering all your questions, so I’ll be going live twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday for 20 minutes for us to chat!”
Simply commit to going live on a social platform of your choice, and direct your audience to it so they can get their questions answered personally, and instantly!
And it doesn’t have to be fancy at all – simply use your laptop’s web cam or get a super cheap equipment set up for under $200 to look extremely professional!
You’ll quickly find you get more time back, because your audience will slowly stop defaulting to email and will start reaching out more on your live streams. Win Win!
Not only that, but all the content you are creating can be repurposed into permanent video content for Youtube or Facebook.
You could even create an awesome blog post template for these live Q&A sessions and host them on your blog!
#2: Handle FAQs Smarter With Automation
Inevitably, you’re going to get hammered with a lot of the same questions over and over…
“How do I log in?”
“What services do you offer?”
“Can I post on your blog?”
We have picked up several tricks to make handling these common FAQs easier.
The most fun solution is to put a chat widget directly on your site & connect it with Facebook Messenger using a bot software.
If that sounds like a terrible idea (I’M ALREADY DROWNING!)
Just bear with me…
Now as you are going about your daily life – take notice of the questions you keep getting asked.
Each one of these questions will have phrases that keep coming up…
Each of these phrases can be picked up by your chatbot so they can provide an instant, relevant, and helpful response to your customer.
They will be impressed (because the best chat bots can pick up keyword phrases easily), and you won’t have to deal with the email at all!
And in my testing, I’ve found that people will always choose a chat widget over hunting through 1,000+ pages of FAQs looking for their information.
But what if the bot can’t get the answer? You can always set it up to forward the message to your professional inbox – so only the trickiest questions come through!
#3: Redirect Appropriately
- One to One?
- One to Many?
Well, if you want to have the greatest impact on the world – you want to spend more of your time in the one-to-many camp.
But if someone emails you a great question… how can your reply help others?
Well – a great (and sneaky way) to help both of you is to convert the conversation from a one-to-one INTO a one-to-man.
To do this, simply use a reply template like this:
Thanks for the awesome question! I’m sure hundreds of others are wondering about the exact same thing, and I’d love to get everyone’s opinion on this! Do me a quick favor and ask that question as a comment on [link to relevant Youtube video or blog post]. I’ll think through an awesome response and would love to see what others have to say too!
Thanks so much!
See what we did there?
By redirecting the question from the inbox onto your website or social media, we accomplish a few things:
- Increase the value of the response to the subscriber – they get additional opinions
- Increase the value to other similar people – they might find that comment and not have to ask the same question
- Increase the value to you: You are starting a conversation on your own platform, which creates engagement, which benefits your SEO
Obviously, not all questions should be shared publicly, but whenever possible, I try to use this method!
#4: Sell your time when it becomes too valuable
If you’re doing your job well, eventually steps 1-3 simply won’t be enough and you’ll still find yourself struggling to keep up.
If enough people are competing for your attention, you might be on the cusp of a successful consulting business.
Transitioning from free to paid support is a tricky subject for another day, but it’s important that you have some way of supporting your audience at every stage of growth.
Whether you like to be hands on and work one-to-one, or you prefer to create a community…
It’s easier to fall behind on your emails from people who want your time for free.
But if you know you have an option for them to ensure they get the support they want and need, you can continue to focus your time appropriately. And if you start selling successfully, you can start to implement sales funnel strategies to turn your time into an incredibly profitable resource.
#5: Hire (When it makes sense)
There’s no getting out of this one. How many CEO’s do you see doing front line customer support?
When you’ve grown enough to justify bringing on help, here are a few pieces of advice:
- Ensure there a standard procedures to follow
- Hire someone who already knows, likes, and trust you
- Set guidelines on what they can and cannot answer
If you’ve never hired before, it’s important to remember that their job is to serve you, make your life easier, and improve the profitability of your company.
They can’t do their job if you don’t set them up for success.
So take it slow, but try to think through how to balance the roles so your newly growing team can succeed.
#6: Only Touch Emails ONCE.
And those pesky emails that you just don’t want to answer?
Don’t do what I see so many do.
Open it once… maybe drag it to a GMail tag. Put it away
Open it 3 days later… think about a reply but lose motivation.
Open it a week later and finally give up and archive it.
For the emails that deserve your attention, make a decision and either answer it, forward it to your support team, or decide not to handle it.
That single decision that you make up front can save hours of time and boat loads of stress.
Whether you are just starting out, or growing a large audience – you are going to attract a lot of attention and people will flock to get your advice.
Don’t let yourself drown in email overload. Use these tips, and serve your audience well!