Monday, July 16, 2012

Email still rules!

Despite the uprising of so many websites and applications that make our lives easier, the email still rules and is the boss! We still need it and will still be using it. Most of these innovative sites we sign up for require for us to provide an email address so, who's the boss?

In most cases we still rely on the email to communicate with parents, for instance. Newsletters are not going anywhere. When it comes to communication nothing yet is as effective and, very importantly, as targeted as the email, maybe except for FB messages... Will we see the death of email shortly? I dare to say that not likely.

This last Wednesday I attended #toolschat, a Twitter chat that takes place weekly at 10 pm EDT (GMT-4:00). Topic this week was about emailing and tools to optimize email experience. Usually, this chat is attended by Social media experts and gurus, as well as marketeers. I got inspired into sharing with you fellow educators some amazing tools to optimize communication through email. Grab a grip!

Image representing MailChimp as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

  1. MailChimp.  This is a free service that allows you to create an email list of subscribers.  Remember when you saw this "Subscribe to newsletter" button on several websites, you did subscribe and every time you got a newsletter from this company you read the "You are receiving this message because you subscribed..."?  Mailchimp gives you exactly that. This is useful if you email your parents frequently.  The service gives you an embedding code or link to put on your website.  Parents sign up to your newsletter and they receive a nicely formatted note; it will definitively give your emails a very professional look.  
  2. Rapleaf.  This service was conceived to provide useful information about your costumers/subscribers.  Basically, it collects information about your contacts and puts all that into nice graphs.  Might be useful to know your parents´ context.  Might be worth giving it a try.  It does have some purchasable features. 
  3. Xobni. This app may be installed into your smartphone and it basically optimizes your contact list by providing you valuable information about them.  In their own words it "makes your contact list smarter". It analyzes your phone contacts, email contacts, and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to provide you a sleek, nice profile for each.  It includes any person you have had contact with in the past.  It rates your contacts by importance and allows you to search by other information besides name.  Might come useful when you do not remember the name of Alfie´s father but do remember where he works at.  All this at the palm of your hand.  Might be worth giving it a try.
  4. Gist. This one has pretty much the same function as Xobni and it has a mobile app for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android as well.  It updates automatically as it is connected to your social networks.  It might have a more professional look than Xobni but I guess it all depends on your taste.
  5. Rapportive.  A Gmail app that provides you a complete profile of your contacts right there in your inbox.  Pretty nice and informative. 
  6. WiseStamp.  This one will enrich your email signature as it will place up to fourteen apps that will show up at the bottom of your email, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  So, imagine the twitter app that shows your latest tweet, or the latest post on your Facebook page.  A really useful app if you want to stay socially connected with parents.  It might even encourage some of your parents into start using social media.
  7. RightInbox. Another Gmail app that allows you to schedule emails.  This might come in handy if you want to send an email to your friend at the other side of the world but don´t want it to be lost withing the ocean of emails he might be getting.  You can also track emails and be notified if they have been opened.  So now you will have a tool that will tell you if this parent did receive that important email you sent him/her.
  8. BoomerangGmail. This one is available for Chrome and Firefox and it empowers your email inbox like this:  You may schedule an email to be sent after a certain time span or at a determinate date and time (in the same way as RightInbox).  Also, you can set reminders.  Remember that ranting parent that sent you an email, you opened it but did not feel like dealing with it right now?  With Boomerang, you can set this opened email to return to your inbox as an unread message at a time you decide, when you feel like dealing with this issue.  Let´s say you sent this message to a parent about a situation, with boomerang, you can schedule a follow-up in case the email has not been opened after a time you decide.  Pretty nifty, huh?
So there´s my list of useful apps for enriching your email experience.  Have a great time enriching your email experience and empowering your email messages in a way that will awe your readers and/or subscibers.  Here´s to an effective communication with school parents, staff, and maybe even students.
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