Email is an awesome application for communicating one to one. I call it the “killer app” because over 900 million of us business people worldwide spend three hours or more in email every day. We “live” so much in email that it seems like EVERYONE is a power user.
It’s exactly because we spend so much time in email, that we are constantly trying to force it to do things it was never designed to do. Things it’s not very good at. But it’s convenient to try to do what I call “unnatural acts” simply because email is at the center of what we do. There are many single-point solutions, but people won’t use “best of breed” applications because they are inconvenient. Rather, they choose to use email less efficiently and effectively because it’s “easier.”
What things am I referring too? Here are four things we all do:
1. Collaboration – We send or forward an email to a group to have a discussion about the contents of an email.
2. Tasks – We leave emails in our inbox and even mark them as unread to remind us to do something.
3. Contact management – We search emails and hope to find someone’s physical address or telephone number and what we last talked about. We use elaborate grouping systems with labels to try to keep contacts kind of organized.
4. Filing system – We hang onto attachments forever and then use search and hope to find the right email with the right attachment.
These are all things Contatta’s collaborative email is specifically designed to fix. We spent over two years and $6.4MM totally reimagining email to create the email we wanted to use. We call it Collaborative Email.
The Collaborative Email Solution
Here is how we fix the four things I mentioned above.
Collaboration – Contatta gives you the ability with a single click to “share” an email to a collaborative workroom where all the members of the workroom can discuss an email in a timeline thread. This eliminates virtually ALL internal email (and over 60% of our email is internal). Contatta eliminates what we call “Reply-All Hell”. Workrooms can be public or private and can include “guests” that are either internal or external. Everyone in a workroom shares a common Timeline, Task Manager, and File Manager. Everything is kept in context of this workroom. Guests are all free. I have a workroom for all my Board Members. I have one for all my investors. I have one for all my execs. Conversations that used to take place very ineffectively in email now takes place in these and other workrooms.
Tasks – With a single click you can turn an email into a task and assign it to anybody in your company. You can then track the progress of all these Tasks in your “Delegated by Me” list.
Contact Management – Outlook and Gmail have very limited address books that can only store a small amount of the information you need to know about your contacts. And every address book is standalone, not shared. I don’t know what others in my company know about you. The address book is a separate app not seamlessly integrated. Contatta allows you to store and share all the info about your contacts. Individual contacts can be shared or private. What did we talk about the last time we talked? What do I need to do next? I want to look up all my contacts that are customers. I need everyone who works with a contact to have the exact same information that I have. I want to see all the interactions everyone has had with that contact.
File Management – Contatta allows you to detach attachments and store them in context with a Workroom, a Task, a Contact, a Company or all of these. You can have discussions about those files as they change and others interact with them. A file can be either a link to DropBox, Box.net, Google Drive or a Contatta file.
Contatta is totally compatible with Gmail, Outlook/Exchange, Yahoo and other IMAP servers. You don’t need to change your email address. Using a product called Zapier, Contatta integrates with over 250 applications. It’s pretty cool. Add a contact to Contatta and it goes right into SalesForce and other CRM apps. Capture a new contact on your website using Wufoo and it goes right into Contatta.
Get an email from someone you don’t know? Click “add contact” and Contatta goes out to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and brings in all you need to know about them. And then you can track everything they are saying out on the web. In sales, there is no longer anything called “cold calling” because no call should be cold with Contatta.
Any time I want to know what is going on I use my “Activity Feed” which allows me to quickly read everything in Contatta I have security rights to see. No more scanning emails to find if there is anything I need to pay attention to right now. If something I am “following” in Contatta changes I get an immediate notification.
Collaborative Email is Better Email
Since I started using Contatta months ago, I now regularly have an empty inbox. I don’t remember ever having an empty inbox before Contatta. And yet I am always on top of everything that is important to me. Things that I am interested in, I follow. And anything someone wants to be sure I see they simply put @Pat in their Post.
I love being able to assign tasks to people with a single click. Sharing an email to a Workroom is so powerful and easy. It saves me so much time.
If email had existed when ACT! was built, we would have built Contatta!