Having a virtual assistant to manage emails and help clean the inbox is a dream come true for any executive that receives dozens, if not hundreds of emails daily. It saves time and effort when people delegate emails in the right way to assistants, so they can concentrate on more urgent things at work.
But what is this right way? How to delegate emails to an assistant without sharing an entire inbox, or wasting time forwarding specific emails to them?
Today you will learn how to allow a virtual assistant to manage emails in Gmail the right way. A little bit of a spoiler: you may be doing it wrong right now, and you will understand why.
What is email management?
Email management is an approach to organize and run an email inbox, using ways to optimize time. It is a process that requires the efficiency of the best email practices to avoid negative impacts on one’s productivity.
A report shows that the average worker spends 28% of their time sending and reading emails during work hours. That’s why email management is important to avoid cluttered inboxes and a huge waste of productive time.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant works remotely helping executives, entrepreneurs, and other busy people that need help with managing their email inboxes.
Using a virtual assistant to manage emails is a solution many executives find as a way to simplify work while delegating their emails to a person specialized in best email practices.
Email management with a virtual assistant in Gmail
There are two most known different ways of delegating emails to an assistant using Gmail:
- Use Gmail delegation
- Share an entire account
But being most known doesn’t necessarily mean that they work properly as they should, and here’s why.
1. Gmail delegation
Undeniably Gmail delegation is more appropriate than forwarding emails to an assistant.
However, Gmail delegation gives the sensation of mixed feelings for three main reasons:
- It allows users to share entire inboxes, which can be both useful and an inconvenient. You know that all the emails will arrive to the assistant. But do you really want all the emails going straight to their inboxes?
- The recipient of a delegated message can see that the reply was sent by the assistant’s email address. If you want them to really think you are the one answering the email, this is not ideal.
- It’s only possible to delegate emails to other users within the same organization. So if the assistant has an email address @gmail.com, it’s necessary to purchase a G Suite account for them.
2. Share your account
Many people still do this nowadays. But we must warn you, that although it seems a practical way of delegating emails, it is not even remotely safe.
Yes, the virtual assistant will be able to view your inbox and reply to the emails as you. As also delete emails and manage your contacts, which are important steps on email management.
But when you share your login and password the assistant can also change your password and any of the Gmail settings on the account. Also, they will have access to Google Chat in your inbox, which can be a much worse problem.
So why it doesn’t work?
Due to the lack of security and privacy reasons. It’s a risk that isn’t worth the facility of just sharing an account.
How to do it the right way using Drag
Drag is a shared inbox tool that works inside Gmail. It allows teams and individuals to create boards in Gmail, and populate them with emails and tasks. Then people can share these boards with others, so they can view and interact with emails in real-time.
It solves the problems you would have using Gmail delegation or sharing an account. So when using this tool for email management with the virtual assistant you can:
- Choose which emails to share;
- Share emails cross-domains (@company.com domains and @gmail.com domains);
- Change the sender alias;
- Have many features for a seamless email delegation experience;
Let’s check all of the features that can improve the way how you delegate emails to an assistant, shall we?
Tasks, Notes, and Live Chat
When you create a board and fill it with emails, they become cards. And when you open a card it looks like this:
There are three tabs you can switch between on a card: The email itself, with the subject as a title, Tasks, and Notes.
On the tab tasks, you can create checklists with the next steps, working as a guide for the assistant.
On the tab notes, it’s possible to insert any important notes necessary for the resolution of that email. It’s possible to attach links if necessary.
Another useful feature for the collaboration between an assistant and their superior is the live chat. There people can exchange information in real-time about that card in specific. This means that each card has its own chat, where the communication will be centralized. All the conversations on chat are saved, so you can access the chat history at any time.
If someone wants to allow their assistant to reply on their behalf, using their signature, the resource “reply as” on Drag boards is very handy. When answering an email as another person just click the “Reply as” button -represented by the down arrow- then choose the user you want to use on the reply.
It’s important to point out that this resource only works after setting the permissions, otherwise no one will be able to reply as you. To set the permissions follow this guide.
It’s possible to create rules to automate the process of delegating emails through a Drag board. So if you want the assistant to receive the emails from a specific email address, you can create an automation for this purpose. Then all the emails in this case will be moved to the shared board.
There 5 actions to use on Drag’s automations:
- Move to (to send emails to boards or columns)
- Assign to (to attribute an email to someone)
- Change color (to attribute a color to specific cards)
- Gmail action (to erform Gmail actions, such as star and mark as read)
- Apply tag (Automatically apply shared labels to cards)
This feature helps to simplify email delegation, eliminating manual processes.
With Drag executives can collaborate in drafts with their virtual assistants. The assistants can edit draft emails previously so you can just click ‘send’ from your own account whenever ready. Drag saves the drafts automatically inside the shared board.
To create a shared draft, follow the steps:
- Click inside the email you need to answer.
- Click on reply or reply as.
- Start writing the response you want to share, then close the email, the same way you would do with a normal draft in Gmail.
- Finally, leave the card.
The assistant will have access to Drag’s exclusive templates, that are very different from the ones on Gmail. Instead of always typing the same answers over and over, it’s possible to create personalized templates.
These templates can be shared with other people within a team, or in this case with the virtual assistant. Besides they support custom fields, which means you can personalize some elements in your template, such as the name of the company or the recipient. Then it’s possible to automatically replicate these custom fields in automated follow-up emails.
Drag email templates can also be set up as email sequences for follow-up emails.
So what is the right way of letting your virtual assistant manage your inbox? That is totally up to you, but we have suggestions of what you can consider before choosing one of the three ways.
First, consider that security is key to avoid losing important data. You don’t want some of your emails being accessed by anyone else, neither your assistant. That’s why sharing a whole inbox is not the answer if you worry about that.
Second, think about what steps you are willing to take on the delegation process. If you want to save time, try to automate as many processes as possible.
Finally, we hope you could find the best way of email management for you and your virtual assistant after reading this article.