Use canned-but-candid email messages and templates to save time without losing face

It's uncanny

Do you ever have days when the very thought of going through an overcrowded email inbox sounds like pure torture, and so you avoid checking it at all costs? You tell yourself, “Just one more trip to the coffee pot” to avoid the daunting task. Or maybe you’ve experienced the opposite — when you can’t help but manically refresh your inbox while waiting to hear back about something important or exciting?

Email has this unique ability to make us obsessed with it, and hate it, all at the same time. (Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one.) According to GFI Software, 83 percent of people use email in the workplace strictly as a way to communicate, and 39 percent of people check their email several times a day, outside of standard work hours. With stats like that, it’s no wonder that after sending a work email, most people expect a response sometime between 30 minutes and the end of the day.

So how can you make the most of that window, without taking time away from doing all the other stuff you need to do to grow your business? Email templates!

It just makes sense

A template is one of the easiest ways to shorten the whole process of writing, responding and sending emails. In fact, you probably already use a template in your email communications without even realizing it! Think about all of those daily emails you send out that begin with the same introduction, go over your business services and/or prices, and end with a thank you or call-to-action. There are a lot, right?

Canned word drive

If you’re willing to give more advanced email tools a try, then we’ve got a man-made wonder for you: canned email responses. These nifty time-savers aren’t just for the tech savvy — they’re actually quite easy to use!

Popular email products like Gmail and Outlook have made crafting and using these “quick parts” super easy and convenient. Basically, all you have to do is create premade responses, and whenever you see fit you just plug them in your emails. Just think of all the time and energy you’ll save answering those questions you get (all the freakin’ time) just once, and then reusing the responses over and over again — whether they be introductions, conclusions, answers to common questions, price sheets, headers, footers, you name it!

Outlook Email Template

While you’ll save a ton of time crafting messages you send over and over again, it’s important to put your unique stamp on those correspondences with your customers. Fortunately, most email templates make it easy for the visual aspects of your company to shine through. Explore your email program’s template feature to learn how to incorporate your business’s logo, custom illustrations or image signatures. This will convey your brand and create a sense of continuity that looks really professional.

Just fill in the blanks

An easy way to figure out what kinds of email templates to create is by looking through the most frequently asked questions you receive. Go back through your inbox and outbox, and skim your messages for similarities or trends. Simply create a draft with a basic intro, body and conclusion, but with empty slots that can be filled in with specific titles and statements about the client or person you are communicating with. So when you get ready to send or reply to an important email, you are literally just filling in the blanks!

Don’t forget to get personal

Templates are a great way to save time doing what most of us perceive as a chore — but make sure you don’t completely lose a personal touch! In this busy world, sometimes a gentle reminder that you are thinking of your client can really set you apart from the competition. When it comes to email templates, this personal touch can be something as simple as using the recipient’s name and a title in the introduction. If you know the recipient on a more personal level, you might use a sign-off specific to them, such as “ Hope all is well with the new house!”

Armed with these email templating tactics, you might find that your next brilliant idea was just waiting to be discovered in the extra time you saved by using that template!

Image by: excelglen via Compfight cc

Genevieve Tuenge
Genevieve Tuenge is a writer, former small business owner and creative director. She's an avid supporter of local mom-and-pop shops, and has devoted much of her career to helping small businesses understand and access the tools and information they need to thrive online.