If you spend a lot of time writing email and wondering what happens after you hit send (“Did he get it?! Did he open it?! Did he click on anything?! OMG!”) then you’ll love ToutApp, which lets you see what happens to your email in real time. You can send 5 traceable emails a day for free, or pay as little as $12/month if that won’t do the trick.
Obviously, the benefits are clear from a sales perspective, but I’ve been using it as a freelancer and learning quite a bit about human psychology. Founder Tawheed Kader was nice enough to jump on the phone to provide some expert analysis on what it all MEANS. So without further ado, here’s a list of eight ways I’ve learned that people look at email differently than I’d expected, with insight from TK. We’ll follow that up with some discussion on privacy and ethics.
Secret #1: People lie constantly about whether or not they’ve received a particular email
They’ll tell me they haven’t looked at something or they didn’t receive it, but with ToutApp I can see that not only did they get it, but they opened it 17 times.
I didn’t realize that happened. I might be dense, but I always took people at their word when they said they didn’t get an email or hadn’t looked at it. “Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised [about that],” TK said. “I think ‘I didn’t look at it’ is a pretty commonly used excuse for ‘Oh, I haven’t responded to it yet.'”
This leads to an awkward situation where I know they looked at it, but THEY don’t know that I know they looked at it. This makes me feel like I’m cheating, but TK says, “Well, we like to think of it as more of a secret weapon.”
Secret #2: People forward email around a lot.
I’ll send an email to San Francisco and it’ll get sent to West Virginia, where I know someone’s assistant is, and then get opened back in SF again. Are people having meetings to discuss my email? Is this something everybody else but me knew happened, and I need Tout to figure it out because I’m socially dense?
I don’t think it’s common knowledge by any means,” TK said. “Everyone has different email habits; they deal with email differently. Sometimes they’ll have their assistant look through their inbox. Sometimes they’ll loop someone else in. More and more communication is happening over email, so we want to add a level of transparency around it so that you can kind of be better at it, basically.”
Tout gets you out of what TK calls the ‘no clue zone,’ where you have no clue what’s happening to your communication. You can at least get some more clues about whether they just ignored it and they’re looking at it, or they never even got a chance to see it, so you should probably remind them about whatever you sent before.
Secret #3: Editors act differently when they like a piece you sent them versus one they didn’t like.
One editor I have absolutely loves about 3/4 of the work I do, and about 1/4 of the time, will make me do extensive rewrites with no lead time. What I’ve learned using tout is that when I send him an email, and he clicks on it more than 5 times, he’ll click on it 15 or 20 times, and he’ll go back and forth between the email I just sent and the original assignment that he’d emailed me, then I know that I have to set aside two hours that evening for the rewrite.
It also made me aware of the fact that this particular editor wants my writing to stick very closely to the assignment letter, even though he’s told me to use it as a leading off point. Now I look at it very closely while I write.
Secret #4: Sometimes people click on the wrong links…or I forget to send them the right ones.
An editor wanted me to interview a startup she’d heard about at SXSW, and I emailed them and I noticed they were clicking on my link for my site and not clicking on the link for the site I write for. That was BAD because this site is pretty random and the site I write for is specific to their industry. I immediately emailed them again with the right link and got the interview right away.
(Not-So) Secret #5: People like emails that definitely don’t suck. [Read more…]