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Top Tip: Eliminating Inbox Fatigue

The easiest way to get the number of emails coming into your inbox down

Top Tips: Reducing Inbox Fatigue

As I was sitting here this morning procrastinating – read avoiding the big thing on my to-do list* – recording this week’s podcast, I realised I have built up a number of things that I always do when I’m setting up a new website.  

In the past this used to be found in the functional specifications I wrote for projects.  That’s before I moved on to doing wireframes that is! 

When you’re working with clients who have large websites the one thing that I learnt early on is this:

Never put a personal email address on a website.

*I’m not really avoiding it, my day was bookended by two conference calls and I wanted enough time to do the recording without having to stop. 

Removing email addresses saves sanity

It obviously makes sense when you’re dealing with large corporate sites. You hear a story that goes a little like this:

“We keep getting emails from people complaining that Jon Snow (not real name, natch), isn’t responding to his bloody emails.”

The cause and effect is this: 

Personal email address put on a site, person leaves company, email account closed.  Customer sends email and gets pissed off when nobody responds. 

AKA your reputation for good customer service is screwed. 

I know, you’re probably sitting there going “yeah, that’s great Emma, but I’m not that big a business”. 

The thing is, any exposed email address on your website is a bit like flashing yourself to anyone.  Bots will scrape your site looking for email addresses to spam the crap out of you.  

You’ll also get a flood of unfiltered emails from people who you’d rather not have your email address.  

All of this adds up to inbox fatigue and the need for a rethink.

No, telepathy isn't the answer

Don’t worry, I’m not about to start suggesting your tribe contact you via telepathy.  Although it would be a little bit amusing. 

If you were to look anywhere on my site, you won’t find a single email address, or my contact number for that matter. 

Personal privacy, is still a thing for me, and I do take it seriously. 

You will, however, notice that I have a contact form.  The difference is that the data you enter into this form is zapped to an airtable, and a notification is sent to Slack

And now I’ve lost you.  Don’t worry, let me explain. 

The how to... ish.

My website runs on WordPress – which I know a lot of people have a love hate relationship with.  I’ve worked on a lot of website builds in my career, and seen a lot of different content management systems (CMS).  Until recently I would have said WordPress was easy to use, but lacked the ability to easily style it. 

Then I randomly discovered Elementor, and I’m in heaven.  I am not getting paid to say this.  It’s rare that you come across a piece of tech that does 95% of what you want it to do, is easy to use and doesn’t break the bank.  Elementor is one such piece of tech. 

So I use Elementor and it’s built in forms builder.  I can style all my forms to look pretty stunning.  They’re accessible and mobile friendly, which I love.  

However, the most important thing, is that I can hook up the Elementor forms to a variety of third party apps.  My email manager – Convertkit – and Zapier. 

My Contact form takes all the data you enter, and using a webhook (think of it a bit like digital owl that carries the data) Zapier passes it to an Airtable.  Airtable is what would happen if a spreadsheet and a database were to have a child.  

Once it’s added all the info to the Airtable, it sends me an alert in my Slack account.  As my Slack channel is muted overnight and it doesn’t tell me how many messages are waiting it’s much easier for me to manage. 

You make it sound so easy...

Yeah, I do.  I know. 

Thing is, I’m a natural organiser of data.  Professionally I’ve been an Information Architect for a long time.  I’m very good at working out logic (i.e. if this, then that type behaviour).  I’m also pretty clear on the kind of information I need to know. 

But so are you.  

I also want to add, that while I’m fluent in Nerdic, I’m not a coder.  I can fix basic code but I can’t write it. 

There are a few different kinds of form plugins you can get that will capture the data for you.  

You’re probably also worrying about how much it will cost you.  And yeah, I get that.  I have paid plans for a lot of my things.  BUT… you can create free Airtable, Zapier and Slack accounts. Everything I’ve just described here is doable for free. 

If you’re really stuck and would like some help, why not book half an hour of coaching with me.  Yeah, you’re gonna have to pay for that… but £50 for me to help you get rid of your inbox fatigue – that’s bloody priceless!! 


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