How to Use Shared Inbox Rules to save time and get organized

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Setting up shared inbox rules can save your team time and keep your inbox organized and easy to use. See how to set them up and the various ways you can leverage this powerful feature.

When your team is working in a shared inbox like info@yourcompany.com, you might sometimes find yourself acting as a traffic cop. As email comes in, you’re directing it to the right person on your team, organizing emails into folders, or even sending stock replies.

This is time consuming busy work that keeps you from the work that really matters. Fortunately, there’s a solution.

If you’re using shared inbox software like Outpost, you can use the rules feature to free up your time and automate most of the “traffic cop” functions that you might be performing by hand.

What are shared inbox rules?

In a shared inbox, rules are sets of instructions that tell the inbox what to do with new email when it arrives. The easiest way to think about rules is to think “if this happens, then do that”.

While that sounds really simple, rules can be used to perform powerful actions and can be highly customized. For example, a rule can look for multiple “if” scenarios and perform multiple “then” actions. You can even apply multiple if/then rules to a single email.

Some of the most common uses of shared inbox rules are to:

  • Automatically reply to a message
  • Assign an email to a team member so they can reply
  • Add a tag to an email to organize emails. This is like putting an email in a folder.

How to use shared inbox rules to keep your email organized

Shared inbox rules are an incredibly effective way to keep your email organized, but there’s more than just one way to do so. Just using one of the following features can give your team a much-needed productivity boost, but finding ways to utilize them all can help you save time, maintain your inbox and provide greater clarity for your team.

Automated organization with tags

One of the best ways you can use rules is to organize your inbox automatically. An effective rule can scan the subject line, message body, and even the From, To, and CC lines and then add a tag to that email.

Tags act as folders, grouping items into a category for organizational purposes. But, unlike folders, an email can have multiple tags.

For example, if you have email messages coming in that often have “request for quote” in the subject line, you can set up a rule to automatically add a “quote needed” tag to that email. Once that’s done, you can easily filter your inbox to show only the “quote needed” emails.

Send automated replies to emails

Unlike your typical “vacation auto-reply” email that sends the same reply to every email that comes into your inbox, automated replies built with rules are highly customizable and can send different replies to different types of emails.

Just like with tags, shared inbox rules can look at the contents of your email and then send a custom reply based on what the rule finds.

Using the “request for quote” example from above, a custom rule could look for that text in an email and then send an automated reply explaining how long the quote process normally takes.

Because your shared inbox might be getting all kinds of different emails, the “reply” rule will only reply to the “request for quote” emails and leave the rest of them alone. You could even set up several different auto-reply rules to handle all the different kinds of emails that come into your shared inbox.

Assign emails to the right people automatically

The biggest benefit of a shared inbox is the ability to assign emails to teammates for them to answer. Diving the work ensures that the right email is answered by the right person. Assignments also give you visibility into who’s working on what and prevents people from stepping on each other’s toes.

To speed up the assignment process, you can let a rule do the assignments. Instead of reading each incoming email and deciding who should answer it, you can set up a rule that looks for keywords in the email and then assigns the email to the right person.

You could automatically route all “quote” emails to one person and all support requests to another person.

Get creative with shared inbox rules and save time

I’ve highlighted just three different scenarios here, but the possibilities are open-ended. You can create complex rules that look at several different criteria of an incoming email. Rules can also perform more than one action. A rule could assign a new email to someone AND tag it AND send an automated reply.

Depending on your business and the type of email you get, you’ll find a way to make rules work for you that will save you time and make managing your shared mailbox even more efficient.

For full details of how rules work in Outpost’s shared inbox, check out our help article

If you want to see Outpost’s shared inbox rules in action, schedule a brief demo with one of our email experts or sign up for a free trial.

Posted in Email, Outpost, Productivity

Noah Parsons

Noah Parsons

Before joining Palo Alto Software, Noah Parsons was an early Internet marketing and product expert in the Silicon Valley. He joined Yahoo! in 1996 as one of its first 101 employees and become Producer of the Yahoo! Employment property as part of the Yahoo! Classifieds team before leaving to serve as Director of Production at Epinions.com. He is a graduate of Princeton University. Noah devotes most of his free time to his three young sons. In the winter you'll find him giving them lessons on the ski slopes, and in summer they're usually involved in a variety of outdoor pursuits. Noah is currently the COO at Palo Alto Software, makers of Outpost and the online business plan app LivePlan, and content curator and creator of the Emergent Newsletter. You can follow Noah on Google+ or on Twitter.