My E-Mail Nightmare

E-mail Enters My Life

I remember my early days using e-mail when AOL.com was the way to go. As technology advanced replacing dial-up connections, AOL fell out of favor by professionals who needed higher speed Internet access and a connection that did not tie up a phone line. After AOL, I subscribe to Yahoo! and was totally loyal for numerous years. I had one e-mail address and one address book with all my contacts listed in it. But then technology intervened again and that is where my nightmare began. I got a website. In the earlier days, it was considered essential to have a POP account for your business e-mail address. Businesses with websites only wanted to promote their own URL not AOL.com, not Optonline.net, not Yahoo.com or even the yet to come Gmail.com. (That business guideline seems to have slacked off a bit of late with many business owners using their G-mail addresses. I am not sure why, though). So we all went through the gymnastics of converting our simple e-mail addresses from their servers to the servers that hosted our websites to convert our e-mail addresses into a POP accounts.

An infographic of the history of e-mail

An Infographic of the history of e-mail @ 2011 Mashable,com

Entrepreneur versus Business Owner

As an entrepreneur, or a one-person band, one is allowed a bit more latitude. One could get away with the generics, AOL, Optonline, Yahoo! and Gmail. But when a solo-preneur becomes a business owner with staff and departments, each section and even person needs an address. Thus contacts like these: admin, sales, info all @mycompany.com become necessary, if not indispensable, so that everyone’s mail does not go to the same mailbox. In addition, an entrepreneur, like myself, might have more than one venture simultaneously and want to look more professional on the Internet. That situation also requires or leads to the need for POP addresses. Me@mycompany.com, @my2ndcompany.com, @my3rdcompany.com are all examples of this. So it went. So it still goes.

G-mail Arrives

When Gmail came out, everyone had to have a Gmail.com e-mail address, myself included. Gmail was claimed to be superior and had more features than Yahoo!. So I decided that since I had various e-mail addresses on various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) already (Optonline and Yahoo), a Gmail address would help me separate and organize my business activities and influx of information. My AOL address was long gone, replaced by the faster, user-friendlier Yahoo!.com. The newer account, with it increasing number of mailbox folders had quickly gotten totally overloaded by the time Gmail became available. But I kept Yahoo!, deciding to trim it down to use for e-mail coupons, deals and offers, primarily. My business e-mail, those that did not need immediate attention, went from my Yahoo! account to my new Gmail address. The urgent e-mails from clients that needed immediate attention stayed as POP account(s). Once I figured out how to set them up by coordinating them with my web hosting company, I began to check them several times a day. Things were going okay. But then the nightmare really began when I went on vacation for a week.

My Introduction to Social Media

This was in the early days of my introduction to social media. I signed up for every venue I encountered. I was curious and wanted to learn as much and as fast as I could. When I came home from my one-week vacation, I was greeted by 500 unread e-mails on my new Gmail.com address. ‘Ahhhhhh’, I screamed to myself, and uttered, ‘this is NOT working’. So my next brilliant idea was to make separate Gmail accounts, one for each business categories and various personal identities. That came to a total of about ten accounts. Each had to be checked separately. That made the nightmare worse. As an attempted solution to the flood of Gmail, I tried opting out of many of the social media venues as I became more selective about what I really needed to know.

OS X Lion image

A MAC LION OS X logo © guardian.co.uk

An Organic Viewing Hierarchy

Then I got a new hard drive. Several things emerged that relieved some of ‘the e-mail nightmare’ with my new Mini Mac operating system MAC OS X Lion. An organic viewing hierarchy emerged. It had a natural rhythm that guided me in viewing each group of e-mails:

• First, are the POP accounts, now accessed from my web-mail account since they no longer show up on my Optimum Online ISP. They easily get the attention they need several times a day as priority business related, time sensitive communications.
• Next, I visit the original Gmail e-mail account. Just to make things even more mysterious but easier for me, when I click the Gmail icon on my Google Chrome’s browser ‘s Tool Bar only this original, primary gmail.com address shows up. Actually this poltergeist has helped me. This e-mail address, which used to receive entries like mating bunnies, has gone from hundreds of e-mails a week to a very manageable number that I can check every day or so.
• The Yahoo!.com e-mail account has a lower priority since it is primarily for coupons and deals (as mentioned earlier).  So I view this account once a week before I go shopping.
• Lastly, I view the Gmail.com e-mails which some how took on a life of their own on my new hard drive and now reside where the POP accounts used to be set up as POP accounts on Optimum Online (my internet service company). I have no idea why or how this happened. Since I have learned to go with the flow with my computer and try not to paddle upstream, I let it be. It has taken me over a month to switch the 10 separate e-mail addresses into one comprehensive set of files. Most of this e-mail is very low priority info and only needs to be viewed a few times a month unless a particular communication is expected.

No, The Nightmare Is NOT Over

‘So where is the e-mail nightmare? This is more like a comedy of errors’, you may be impatiently asking at this point. It does sound like I have reached a workable solution within the insanity of having so many e-mail addresses. Well, here comes the kicker. Each ISP, (Yahoo, Optimum Online, Gmail), has its OWN address book, not to mention my eNews venue, Constant Contact which also has its own. If you are savvier than I am, you might now say, ‘again no biggie’. Just merge all your address books into Plaxo or a similar application. Well, believe me, I have tried and tried and tried. I have exported, imported, merged, attempted to delete duplicates and so on. My attempts have led to utter failure. Half the time I just end up going to my Rolodex. Yes I confess I have resorted to a 20th century technology.  In fact, I have two Rolodexes as well as a saved drawer full of faded cards that are older than the hills. But I keep them just in case (of what I don’t know).

the struggle between Email vs. Social Media for Donimance

I Prefer Social Media to Email @ Bing.com

I Prefer to Use Social Media

Most of the time, I just want to communicate through social media, message or chat on facebook, post on my pages and in my group, tweet on twitter, comment on LinkedIn, Skype or use some other form of video. In fact, sometimes I still talk on the phone. I daydream about eliminating e-mail altogether. Ah, now that’s an idea and if I had my way, I would discontinue using it. But I can’t yet. Perhaps, one day e-mail will go where snail mail is going. Bye!

A Call for HELP

Therefore, I plead with my readers. Somebody please, HELP ME with my e-mail address book nightmare. I am powerless over this mess that has taken over my administrative affairs. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas on how to consolidate all my systems so I can have just ONE address book that:
• can easily be kept up to date
• does not allow duplicates
• is accessible from any of my e-mail ISPs
• will work with my eNews program and any other programs I might use
I implore you to show me the way. Is there a solution to this part of my e-mail nightmare so I can have ONE seamless address book system? Or will I be able  to abandon e-mail altogether and enjoy social media for ALL my online communication? Actually, it is not a bad idea but is this still too far ahead of its time.

AUTHOR:
Alison Gilbert is the Digital Age Storyteller and a photojournalist. She is a regular contributing author to DBME and, when time allows, to other blogs as well. She is the owner of MARKETING BYTES Business Marketing Solutions. She has been a marketing pro and designer for over three decades.
Alison has a ProTeam of experienced marketing, design and writing professionals offering the latest online marketing technology, social media, graphic and web design, illustration, photo and video, content management as well as the best of traditional advertising. Her client base has covered just about every commercial industry.
MARKETING BYTES specializes in local/small and start up businesses with a boutique (very personal) approach to client service. Although located on Long Island in New York State, Marketing Bytes can serve clients everywhere there is Internet access. Visit our site, Marketing Bytes, one of our facebook pages, Marketing Main Street USA, our facebook group, Local Biz Is The Solution, and the Marketing Bytes Blog. To contact us:  e-mail or call 516-665-9034 (EST, NY, USA).

SOURCES:
ISP POP/IMAP Accounts
The History of E-mail (Infographics)
AOL E-mail
YAHOO! E-mail
GOOGLE e-mail (Gmail)
Optimum Online
Ditch email? Boost lead conversion rates with social media
Is Social Media Impacting How Much We Email?
The Question of Email vs. Social Media: 4 Reasons Why Email is Still Relevant

IMAGES:
The History  of E-mail (Infographic)
I Prefer Social Media to Email

VIDEO:
Social media toevoegen aan e-mail (The video Is in English)

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Comments

  1. Hi Alison,

    I feel your pain. As a small business owner, I have experienced a similar path through the years with email. Since July 2010, I’ve been using Gmail and Google Contacts as the primary hub for contacts and email that everything else works off of, and it has been working pretty well for me.

    -Salesforce (my CRM for business) syncs contacts and calendars with Gmail through an intermediary (Appirio cloud sync)
    -Constant Contact syncs to my Salesforce database (which syncs with Gmail).
    -Apple Contacts / Apple Calendar (I have a MacBook Air with Lion and use Apple Mail) syncs contacts and calendar with Gmail – this also syncs to my iPad and iCloud devices
    -My Android phone (Droid Pro) and Blackberry phone (Curve 9300) syncs contacts and calendars with Gmail using the Gmail Sync free application

    Have you heard of Xobni’s Smartr Contacts? I found it a few weeks ago and added it free to my Google Apps for Business account. It works on top of my Gmail to help identify and collect each contact’s social media profiles and accounts. They have a premium paid service for a minimal annual fee that could potentially solve many of our contact sync issues. Maybe it can work for you too?

    Also, some cell phones can take your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn contacts and import/merge them into your regular Google contacts. You can then merge the multiple contacts from different platforms just one time, and you will end up with one contact file with Social Media and Email integrated for each person.

    I imported the same contacts into Hotmail/Bing and Yahoo but am not doing anything with them there, just to make sure they’re in every possible place. I still have an AOL address and set up a “Lifestream” with AOL. I set up email addresses on each platform as a protective measure as much as to route different email traffic to a manageable level.

    You mentioned several times that you use POP email servers for your business URL – you may want to consider switching to IMAP. It essentially consolidates your email into one central clearing house that enables email to be sent or deleted from any device but updates all devices at the same time.

    Hope this helps. If you want to discuss further please email me or call me at (201) 448-7253. Thanks for writing the article! I enjoyed reading it…

    Sincerely,

    Adam Ross
    Managing Director
    Infinite Prospects, Inc. – Online Solutions for Car Dealerships

  2. Thanks very much Adam. I will keep your suggestions in mind and your phone number handy.

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