4 Ways to Improve Email

Many have written before that email is ripe for disruption. Something has got to give and I think we'll see lots of innovation over the next few years. In the meantime, here are four features I would love to get added to Outlook and Gmail that would make my life a little bit easier: 1. Character count. I'd love a character countdown (from, say, 200) to appear in the top corner of a new email. It would be a critical reminder to keep emails short. I'd even love a feature that would not allow the email to be sent if it exceed a particular character count. 'Pithiness', as required by the 140 character limit, is the best feature of Twitter. There's no reason it shouldn't apply to email as well.

2. Like button. I stole this idea from a comment that Donna White made a while back. One of the best features of Facebook is the 'like' button. It's an incredibly easy way to let people know you appreciate something they've posted without engaging in a back and forth. It's a super-efficient, low effort way to keep in touch with lots of people. Instagram and Twitter do this as well. I'd love the same feature to be added to email. Instead of having to respond with a one or two word response, the reader could just 'like' the email and that could be tracked and not require a new email to be generated. This would probably reduce the volume of email by 20%.

3. Reply tracking. I'd love to be able to click on a folder that show all of the emails I've sent that haven't been responded to for easy follow-up and tracking. I know there are plug-ins like Toutapp and Yesware but they're painful to install -- this is so basic it should be native to email programs.

4. External/internal reporting & filters. One of the pitfalls for people that are externally facing is ensuring that you're focusing the right amount of energy towards customers as opposed to internal work. A simple widget that tracks the percent of email flow that is internal versus external over time would be super useful. In addition, it would be great to have the ability to easily switch between internal and external inboxes and sent items folders.