Staying on top of my inbox is one thing that I am very good at. But being very good at it sometimes drives me completely crazy. I used to use Gmail’s labels for every message, but then realized how time consuming that was. Now I just delete or archive emails.
Something I do today is use different star colors to signify importance and to-dos. I realize this method isn’t ideal either though. Outside of a reminder, what’s the point of leaving messages in your inbox? Every email is an action you need to take or you’re waiting for someone else to. Letting a message that has some value sit there amongst spam and other unimportant messages doesn’t make sense.
That’s where Boomerang for Gmail comes in. I’ll be honest, I’ve used Boomerang off and on for the last couple years. However, over the last month, I’ve become more dependent on it than ever before. Being able to schedule messages to return to my inbox after a certain period of time if no one responds has helped the sales area of my business tremendously. No longer do I have to set a calendar remainder to follow-up; the email just shows back up in my inbox and I take action.
I also use Boomerang to send emails when I want them sent, not when I have the time to send them. I work a lot of odd hours. Sending important emails at midnight isn’t ideal for me or the clients I work with. Being able to craft that message and have it sent automatically at 9 a.m. is a huge benefit.
I spoke to Chris Cichon, Baydin’s Marketing Mad Scientist (his real job title), about his company’s email productivity tool for this Boomerang review. Personally, I love the tool and look forward to seeing it evolve even more, especially in the mobile space.
For everyone who doesn’t know what Boomerang is, what’s the elevator pitch?
Boomerang is an extension for Gmail that lets you send emails later, set email reminders, snooze messages, and track emails that you’ve sent. Our mission is to help our customers be more productive by managing their email better.
Features like send later and return to inbox feel so essential to the world of email. Why do you think Google hasn’t just built these into their platform?
Google has 475 million users and only 30 million of those are business users. Every feature they bake into Gmail has to pass the “will a large majority of our consumer users need this feature” test. As much as I’d love if my grandpa used our ‘Send Later’ feature or snoozed an email, he probably never will because he doesn’t get very much email. If those buttons were in Gmail natively, it’d add complexity to the interface and may confuse some users.
That said, since there are millions of email power users, we’re really excited to be able to offer them solutions that help them be more productive and improve their lives. We’re grateful that Google values third-party developers and enables us to create great products for their platform.
There are definitely some competitors in this space. What would you tell prospective users to make them go with Boomerang?
Most of our competitors are targeting vertical markets (such as sales teams) and do a good job for some customers that are on a particular stack of software. We are much more general purpose. Boomerang is used by entrepreneurs, CEOs, freelancers, sales people, business professionals, real estate agents, and even the First Lady (I’m actually not sure about that last one, but we’d love if she did)!
We pride ourself on making great products and delivering an amazing experience for our customers; that’s one of the reasons why Boomerang is the top plugin for Gmail. Boomerang just works, I’d encourage your readers to give it a shot if they haven’t yet and see what they think. It fits seamlessly into Gmail.
Google has limited what third-parties can do with email tracking, especially in the last year or two. How has Boomerang been able to tackle this with read receipts?
It actually doesn’t affect us at all. A company value of ours is building respectful software and one of the ways that plays out is that we never report location on read receipts. We think it’s kind of creepy (and not necessary) to know exactly where someone is when they’re reading your email. We wrote a blog post about it a while back where we talk more in depth about this issue specifically.
People are moving away from their desktop inbox and into their mobile inbox. That’s where we’ve seen successful apps such as Mailbox and Google’s Inbox. What’s the future of Boomerang on mobile?
Yeah, and we’re seeing more and more go mobile. Investors are increasingly interested in companies like Facebook and Twitter’s mobile traffic & revenue. There’s also a lot of talk about how fast smartphone adoption is in emerging markets. We definitely see it too. We have one of the highest-rated email apps on the Google Play store, Boomerang for Android. You can do all of the same thing through the app that you can in Boomerang for Gmail.
But what I think your question is really asking is, where’s Boomerang for iOS?! It’s on our radar and I can tell you that we’re working on it. We’ve definitely heard the demand for it from our customers, so we’re working on it as quickly as we can. Stay tuned.
What are the biggest challenges with developing product features for mobile email?
Something that people often don’t realize is that simply getting an email to display correctly on mobile is fairly difficult. We spent months on our Android app trying to get this down right; the fragmentation of screen sizes on Android doesn’t help either. Email is written in HTML, but unlike a website – all of its styling (CSS) is done in-line rather than in a separate style sheet (or sheets). Emails get styled in multiple ways from different people & companies, so the burden for correctly displaying an email falls on the app.
Our engineers are incredible and have been able to fine-tune our Android app so that emails (including ones with complex images) display correctly on all devices. The good news is that we’ll be able to take these learnings into our iOS app in the future.
Do you think email will eventually become like text messaging on mobile — quick, easy and more personal?
I think that we’ll continue to improve how email is managed, but I don’t think it’ll be replaced by (or replace) texting. In the same way that cat videos on YouTube didn’t replace movies. There’s value is sharing longer-form, organized thoughts. Additionally, another important distinction is the asynchronous nature of email – this is something we think there’s a lot of benefit in at Baydin and one of the major use-cases for our Send Later feature. It’s especially true at work – do you really want to communicate about your sales strategy via text?
Which apps do you personally use that make your life easier?
Mobile banking definitely makes my life easier – I really like the Charles Schwab app and Wealthfront’s iOS app. I regularly use Pocket, Buffer, Circa, and Elevate. I also think that an app that has a lot of utility but is under-appreciated app is PayByPhone, it lets me pay for parking in the City instead of carrying a bunch of quarters.
And I know I’m biased, but I really couldn’t imagine doing email without Boomerang.
What is your biggest productivity tip?
One of my favorite productivity tips is to turn off email notifications on your computer. I found myself being constantly distracted by new messages that popped up, most of which didn’t require my attention (or at least didn’t immediately).
There’s a great study out of Loughborough University that found it takes an average of 64 seconds to fully recover from being interrupted by an email. I check email three times per day, once on my phone on my way into work in the morning to see if there’s anything urgent, once in the late morning and once in the late afternoon.
There’s a lot of research on how to be the most productive and having focused time is crucial. Block times on your calendar to do email and don’t look at it otherwise so that you can spend real time on actual work.
What’s next for Boomerang?
We’re working on some really exciting stuff that I can’t talk about quite yet, but we have a number of other products that are available now that many people don’t know about. Here’s a couple of them:
Inbox Pause creates a pause button for your emails so that they don’t come into your inbox. Our CEO uses this to receive all of his emails twice a day. This is a great way to stop email interruptions. It’s free too.
The Email Game gamifies your inbox, which reduces decision fatigue, creates a sense of urgency, and feeling of satisfaction as you answer emails. It helps you power through your inbox. Our Customer Support team uses The Email Game daily.
Boomerang Calendar is a smart calendar assistant built into Gmail. It makes it really easy to schedule meetings with groups and add events to your calendar straight from an email. This is one of my favorite tool and really shows off how good context-aware software can be. It’s free too!
Boomerang is currently only available for Gmail and Outlook.
Are you a Boomerang for Gmail user? Is it a useful email productivity tool? Let us know in the comment section below.