Do you spend time composing e-mails over and over again that say almost exactly the same thing? Here’s a time-saving solution: It’s a software plug-in for Outlook called Email Templates. I’ve been using it for almost a year and it works well.
Let’s say that you send an e-mail five times a day to a custodian, broker/dealer, client, or vendor confirming an order, thanking them for their help, or telling them you are faxing something. Or say you take an ad in the newspaper providing an e-mail address for resumes and you want to automate a response to candidates. Or maybe you have a standard e-mail you want to send to prospects. Using Email Templates (www.emailtemplates.com), you can draft an e-mail one time and save it in a separate Outlook folder to be sent over and over again hundreds of times.
When you want to send the template e-mail as a reply or as a new piece of mail, you just click on a toolbar that Email Templates puts in your Outlook toolbar, and it pops open your template e-mail for you to personalize or send as is.
One feature that is great about this program is that you can insert elements into your e-mail to personalize it. For instance, when you set up a template e-mail to reply to a request for information about your firm, include in your reply the name of the sender of the original e-mail, include the body of the original message to you, the date the message was sent to you, and other elements of the original e-mail. This allows you to personalize template replies easily.
I switched from using Eudora as my e-mail software program to Microsoft Outlook one year ago. Eudora was great for creating e-mail templates because you could easily create “stationery” that would contain your repetitive messages and use that to create template e-mails. I was annoyed and disappointed that Outlook made this much more difficult. I spent several hours trying to create a simple solution in Outlook and asked a network consultant who installs Microsoft Exchange and Office for a living in small businesses how to create templates, but I could not find a simple solution.
Email Templates costs $59.95 and has been well worth it. I’ve saved uncounted hours and fooled people into believing they are receiving personalized responses from me when in fact my pre-written response was generated by the program. My only caution to you is about the support for the product.
Email Templates was somewhat difficult to get up and running, and to master. I had to spend some time reading the 64-page manual to make it work. Once you master this process, however, you own it forever. If you do not have the patience to spend an hour or so learning how to create your first e-mail template or if you know you’ll never look at the manual, then this program may not be for you.
It’s understandable that a company charging only $59.95 for its software cannot handle support questions for free. However, the company offers a support contract for $500 for one contact, and that does seem a little steep. Still, if you have a firm where more than one person is likely to use the program regularly, paying the $500 fee will be a good investment because the time saved in creating e-mails could be enormous. Moreover, you can download a trial version of the program for free and you may learn then that you don’t even need that steep support package.
Editor-at-Large Andrew Gluck, a veteran personal finance reporter, is president of Advisor Products Inc. (www.advisorproducts.com), which creates client newsletters and Web sites for advisors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.