When email first came out, each time I got a new message, I loved it!
Now? I get hundreds per day—it’s not quite as special anymore.
But while the entertainment value of email has declined, its role in business has remained important.
But here’s the thing: just using Gmail isn’t enough if you want to achieve great results in your business. You have to use it the right way.
Did you know that being interrupted by email costs the average worker an hour of lost time each day? Think about how much work could be done in that extra hour.
Part of the problem is that we develop bad habits over the years. Radicati found that the typical employee checks their email an amazing 36 times per hour. They also send and receive 105 emails during the day.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this level of distraction is not conducive to productivity and that this volume of email for an average worker is kind of scary. It’s almost inevitable that you would lose emails and forget to do important things.
Managers are supposed to be pretty good at…well…managing things, right? But even they can’t manage inboxes well. In fact, 59% of middle managers miss at least one important piece of information from email every day because they can’t find it. Sometimes, they never see it in the first place.
As marketers, we deal with many people who have these habits every day. Heck, maybe we ourselves are guilty of some bad habits as well.
That’s why I’m going to show you how to turn your Gmail inbox into a machine, where junk is ruthlessly eliminated and valuable emails are always acted upon.
To do so, you’re going to need plugins, and lots of them.
That’s why I’ve hand-picked 22 of the best Gmail plugins that will help you clean up your inbox (and keep it clean), send emails that get opened more, and increase your email productivity.
You won’t and shouldn’t install them all, but I bet you can find at least a few that will make a significant difference in the results of your emailing efforts.
Streamline and automate sending emails
Two things always grow as you become more successful: income and emails.
Not only do you receive more email but you also send more emails—out of necessity, of course. Readers, employees, partners, and your regular friends all need your attention.
If you’re not careful, you’ll spend half your day checking and writing emails.
TNS found that workers spend the most time every week checking email:
Luckily, there are some great Gmail plugins that will help you clear out your inbox faster without missing anything important.
1. Boomerang. Use it to schedule emails or remind you to send an email at a specific time.
Boomerang solves all sorts of common problems for content marketers.
Do you ever want to respond to an email, but not right away? For example, maybe you need to send an invoice in a week.
Boomerang lets you schedule when your email needs to go out. Here’s how you do it:
Once you send the email, you don’t have to worry about remembering to do it later, and it doesn’t clutter up your inbox.
One other great reason to use the scheduling feature is for your link outreach campaigns. Emailing someone at 2 AM is a surefire way to get your email buried under the rest of someone’s morning email.
MailChimp found that the highest email open rates occur between 8 AM and 5 PM.
When sending emails to someone you don’t know well, schedule them to be sent during this window to maximize your chances of them being read.
While the plugin has a few other features, the next most useful one reflects why the plugin named Boomerang in the first place.
Sometimes, you can’t respond to an email right away even if you’d like to. You could be waiting for some results or for responses from other members of your team on a project.
So if someone, say a client, sends you an email asking for an update at the start of the day, you can “boomerang” the email to make it disappear from your inbox—for now—and show up at a later time marked “unread.”
This will prevent emails from being buried and forgotten. Here’s how simple it is:
2. Clientele.io. This plugin was created for marketers who want to maximize their follow-up email response rates.
If you’re dealing with busy clients but need their approval or feedback, you likely find yourself waiting for them to get back to you.
What Clientele does is it tracks the results of your normal email activity and over time determines which times are best to send emails to a certain person. You want emails not just to get opened but also replied to.
Like we discussed before, many people get bogged down by piles of email. Even if they mean to respond to you, it’s possible that they just forget.
Not only will this plugin help you send the first email at the optimal time but it will also help you time a follow-up email.
3. FollowupCC. Sometimes we mean to follow up with someone, but forget to. This plugin gives you the choice to set a follow-up date when you are sending/replying to an email.
If you haven’t heard back from your recipient, you’ll get a new email in that thread reminding you to follow up.
There’s another feature that made it hard to categorize this plugin. When you send emails, you have the option of tracking who’s looking at the email. The results can be seen in a sidebar as shown below:
When it comes to sales, only 2% of sales actually occur on the first contact. Eighty percent occur after the fifth contact.
Even if you’re not directly involved in the sales process, you likely use email to build relationships and work with people. If you don’t ever follow up, chances are that you’ve lost a lot of business (and profit) because your emails were simply forgotten or buried.
Considering how little it takes to send a follow-up (especially with a plugin), the results are definitely worth your effort.
Give it a try—start following up regularly when you don’t hear back from a contact. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results over time.
4. Yet Another Mail Merge. Mail merges may have fallen out of fashion over the years, but in some situations they are still handy.
A mail merge, for those of you not familiar with the term, allows you to input contact information such as name, email address, and anything else you’d like into a spreadsheet. You can then send an email to all these addresses at the same time, complete with personalization.
Here’s how Yet Another Mail Merge works using a Google Sheet (spreadsheet) and your Gmail account:
5. WiseStamp: Create an email signature that stands out. If you’ve ever emailed me, you know that I have a pretty unique signature at the end of all my emails:
A good email signature is a great personal branding opportunity. It’s a chance to stand out while also communicating important information without any extra effort.
If you have a really high volume of emails, adding a line like mine to your signature will significantly cut down on the number of emails people send you. In addition, it saves you from people thinking that you’re rude because of your short replies due to time constraints.
WiseStamp allows you to create a custom signature for your emails. You can include a picture, links to social profiles or websites, phone numbers, and any message you want—the sky’s the limit.
Spying on prospects (a.k.a. tracking email open rate)
Where does your email go when you click “send”?
It seems as if it just poofs into the ether of the Internet.
Of course, it doesn’t disappear. You just can’t see it going into your recipient’s mailbox.
If you’re like me, you’d feel that it sucks. I want to know that my emails are ending up in inboxes and being read, not being filtered into junk or promotional tabs.
If you’re emailing someone influential, it could be days or weeks before you hear back…or never.
James Altucher once shared that he had 105,591 unread emails in his inbox. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know if he had at least opened an email you sent? You bet. Then you could follow up or try to get in touch through different means.
This is where the following plugins come in handy. They allow you to see when emails you send are opened and how often. You can use this information to improve your email open rate over time.
6. Yesware. When you send an email, all you need to do is check the box beside “Track” at the bottom. Yesware will track all future actions your recipient takes with your email.
You have two types of ways to view the results of tracking. There’s a limited collapsible panel above your inbox that you can use to view the most recent email data, or you can dig into detailed reports on the Yesware website.
In the detailed reports, you can analyze your results for all the major metrics such as clicks and opens.
If you’re running an email outreach campaign, chances are you’ll be emailing hundreds of people with similar subject lines.
By creating a few variations of your subject line, you can split test which one gets the most opens and positive responses. Take the winner as your new default, and then begin a new test during your next campaign.
Finally, Yesware also lets you create and save email templates. If you find yourself sending a lot of similar emails, just create a template and insert it into your next blank email. This feature can save you a lot of time during email outreach campaigns.
7. BananaTag. This plugin is very similar to Yesware. Just click the tag option at the bottom of any email, and you will be able to see exactly when and who is opening it later on.
The analytics are also very solid, allowing you to examine your email open rate over time and improve it through experimentation.
One final note: they’ve also released a beta tool that allows you to schedule sending emails, which may eliminate the need for an extra plugin.
8. ToutApp. This plugin is a little more robust and meant for a team use. It features similar tracking capabilities as the other plugins in this section, e.g., email opens, interactions (clicks/downloads), and replies.
ToutApp also features easy to save and use templates, which can speed up any repetitive outreach efforts.
I’d say the biggest difference between ToutApp and the other plugins in this category is that ToutApp focuses on tracking by the person rather than the email. This is a major benefit if you communicate with certain people over and over again and really want to learn which emails they respond to best.
Finally, note that ToutApp is exclusively a paid one. While they offer a 14-day free trial, there is no free level. It’s meant more for teams and professional marketers rather than those that are relatively new to the field.
9. Sidekick. This plugin was developed for Gmail by HubSpot and released as a free version (paid plan available). Just like the other plugins in this category, it tells you when and who opened your email.
On the free plan, the reporting is pretty basic and isn’t quite up to par with the other options. It’s not as easy to see overall clicks and opens over time.
The one neat feature of this plugin is customer insights. When you send an email, the Sidekick sidebar will emerge on the right of the screen and attempt to pull up relevant social media information of your contact.
Unfortunately, I found this to be really hit or miss, and often the plugin couldn’t find any information on a contact.
Boost sales with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) plugin
Despite purchasing a CRM startup a while back, I don’t write much about CRM on Quick Sprout or the NeilPatel.com blog.
That’s because CRM is for sales, not marketing. CRM tools help you track your relationships with leads and nurture them down your sales funnel.
That being said, I know that some of you are involved in both marketing and sales. Since there are some great Gmail CRM plugins, I wanted to give you a few options.
These are all fairly comprehensive tools, so the best I can do is highlight the main benefits for choosing each, and you can read up on them on your own if interested.
10. Streak. Unlike most other CRM tools, Streak is specifically designed for Gmail, which gives it an advantage over many of the best-known CRM companies.
It features a lightweight dashboard that’s built right into Gmail. You can color-code prospects as they move through each stage in your funnel.
The big reason a CRM like this is helpful is that it takes a complex set of data and puts it on an easy to see chart/spreadsheet. Even with several leads at different stages in your funnel, you won’t forget to follow up with anyone.
And while this is typically meant for sales, there’s no reason why you can’t use a similar process for building relationships with influencers.
In addition to having standard CRM features, Streak also gives you other basic business tools that you might be interested in such as:
- email support (customer service)
- project development
- bug tracking
11. WORKetc CRM. This is another highly rated CRM plugin for Gmail. It’s not as pretty as its competitors, but it performs well.
This CRM plugin is designed for teams, and it excels in that area. In addition, it has great built-in features for project management and billing, which is a huge asset for certain businesses.
Instead of being built right into Gmail, it syncs with Gmail. Sometimes this is inconvenient, but it can be beneficial if you’re working with outside docs and calendars that you want to sync up.
Here’s a more in-depth video of its features:
12. ProsperWorks (formerly Strideapp). Recognize the handsome guy on the homepage? That’s the startup I was talking about earlier. It’s another Google App designed for Gmail users (rather than a poor adaptation of an app).
It is simpler than some of the alternatives, but that’s also a good thing for anyone looking for a lightweight CRM. It is a CRM tool, and it does CRM well. And while it syncs with your Google calendar, contacts, etc., it doesn’t try to handle billing or project development.
Obviously, I’m biased, so let me instead copy part of a review from a user:
“[Where] The extension really SHINES are the task management features. There are so many situations where several of us are involved in working on different activities for one prospect that are all tied together. It eliminated ugly spreadsheet pipelines, strings of forwarded emails, and hours spent searching/coordinating things.”
You’ll get a standard sidebar when in Gmail, showing you your contact history and profile:
Learn everything about the person you’re emailing
Even though sales is typically thought of as separate from marketing, there is some overlap.
You might have noticed that the sidebar in the screenshot of ProsperWorks has a ton of contact information on the person the email is being sent to. This has obvious benefits. No more forgetting what you’ve covered or asking embarrassing questions.
The plugins in this section are dedicated to this one important function. In addition, they can help you find contact information if needed.
Can you imagine sending an email to someone and being able to say, “I saw your tweet yesterday about X—it was great,” or something along those lines?
Or asking about a family member or a hobby your contact brought up months or years ago? Who isn’t going to appreciate that?
And these plugins can help you do that without you having to go out of your way. Most have a way to add important notes or check recent social media activity of your contacts.
13. Rapportive. About five years ago, Rapportive was the king in this area. It was pretty much the first plugin to do this sort of function right, which quickly led to its rise in popularity.
But since it was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, Rapportive has lost its stranglehold on the niche. Many of its original features were stripped away to emphasize LinkedIn, and some performance bugs led to the rapid creation of alternative plugins.
The Rapportive sidebar today is fairly solid and draws its information directly from LinkedIn. This is a good thing if your contact uses LinkedIn, but it’s not very useful if they don’t.
14. Discoverly. One of the first major competitors to Rapportive was Discoverly. It has a lot of features similar to the original Rapportive.
You’ll see the sidebar widget on the right side as usual, and it contains links to the displayed contact’s profiles on popular social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter as well as information about connections (friends) and some recent activity.
It’s fairly simple, but that’s the appeal.
15. Full Contact. This is one of the latest rising competitors to the now crowded space of contact profiling widgets.
It also features a fairly simple but very attractive design. On the main panel, the social activity is downplayed in favor of other information. While there are links to social networks (small logos), there is a lot of space dedicated to allowing you to add tags or notes to a contact.
In addition, it clearly displays your contact’s location and time zone, which can be very handy when scheduling emails. If you want to see recent social activity, you simply click on the social tab at the bottom of the widget.
The most important thing is that it seems to be one of the most reliable plugins currently when it comes to finding contact information, which is the biggest challenge for plugins in this area.
Waste less time in your email inbox with productivity plugins
As a marketer, you know that your most limited resource is your time. And if you’re spending half of your day in your email inbox, you likely aren’t using it effectively.
Email, like social media, is both a tool and a recreational outlet. It’s easy to confuse value-creating work with fun.
That’s why I recommend using Gmail plugins to maximize your productivity.
Everyone has their own productivity kryptonite, which is why I’ve included plugins that address a wide variety of productivity issues.
16. Unroll.me. How many emails from other marketers do you end up deleting 90% of the time after glancing at them for a few seconds?
It’s normal to sign up for email lists. You might do it because you’re actually a fan of someone’s work or you just want to see what they’re up to. But over time, you’re likely to find yourself on a lot of lists that end up overwhelming you and your inbox.
The point of Unroll.me is to consolidate all the messages that you do want to read into one easy-to-read email per day.
You can also easily go down the list of your current subscriptions and unsubscribe from any lists you don’t want to be on with one click. Sure, this will take you a few minutes now, but it’ll save you hours over the long run.
17. Assistant.to. Ever get sick of trying to find a meeting time that works for both you and the other party? To help you with this task, this plugin is the best free plugin out there for you.
This plugin integrates with your Google Calendar to let you easily select free time in the upcoming days that you could use for meetings.
In the actual email you’re sending, you enter the length of time required for the meeting, then click on the free time in your calendar. The plugin formats the different time options so that your recipient can just click on a time that works for them, and the meeting will be automatically set.
18. ActiveInbox. While some of us are better or worse than others, most people procrastinate until a deadline comes up. This plugin was created to deal with that problem.
You can go through a large batch of emails and assign them both a priority and a due date. They will be arranged in a logical order so that you can deal with them most efficiently.
One caveat: There’s a free trial, but after that, it’s a paid tool (a few dollars a month). You should know by the end of the trial if the tool is worth paying for.
19. AwayFind. Put your hand up if you’re constantly checking your email throughout the day. Almost everyone does.
It’s obviously a huge waste of time and distracts you from doing actual work that produces value.
This plugin was created so that you could stop checking your inbox without worrying about missing anything important.
You create filters with it so that if a certain person sends you a message within a certain time frame, you will get a phone call or text to your cell phone with the text of the email.
This way, you’ll still get emails you want to read immediately within the time frame you want, but the less important stuff will wait for you until later.
20. Send & Archive. This plugin is actually built right into Gmail. It’s designed to help you get rid of all those long email threads.
When you reply to an email thread, it stays in your inbox unless you move it. With Send & Archive, as you might have guessed, the email automatically gets archived (you can still retrieve it later if needed).
To enable Send & Archive, click on the gear near the top right of your inbox, then click on “Settings.”
Next, click the radio button beside “show ‘Send & Archive’ button in reply” to turn it on.
Now, when you reply to an email, you’ll see a second “send” button. The one with the box with a down arrow will automatically archive the email after you send it.
21. The Email Game. Who said answering emails can’t be fun? This plugin isn’t for everyone, but if you find that it takes you a long time to slog through your emails every day, it might help you.
Once started, the plugin will give you a time limit to respond to each email. As you answer each email, the progress bar fills up until you finish answering all emails.
Obviously, this plugin isn’t good if most of your emails require carefully thought-out responses.
22. Taskforce. Taskforce is a really handy to-do list that you can edit on the fly in Gmail.
This saves you from having to record things that you need to do in another spreadsheet or text file. In the case that you don’t write down tasks in the first place, this saves you from continually having to search for and open emails.
Additionally, you can add people to specific tasks. When you finish the task, they’ll get an email update.
I really hope that you were able to identify areas where you could become more effective and/or efficient when it comes to emailing and found a plugin in this list that could help you improve in those areas.
Remember that Gmail is a tool (a good one), and you need to adapt it to your needs to make the most of it.
With the plugins in this article, you should be able to:
- get higher open and response rates
- spend less time checking email
- maintain a cleaner email box
- miss fewer important emails
- stress less about your inbox
- integrate Gmail into your marketing efforts for more profit
- make answering email less of a chore
I’ve given you 22 great plugins, but there are hundreds more out there. If you want more options or find a new problem, don’t be afraid to look around.
If there’s a particular plugin that you love that didn’t make this list, let me know in the comments below.