Fun fact: In today’s world, nearly one-third of the population uses the web. That’s 2.3 billion users. Of those, 425 million users actively place their confidence in Google’s email service – Gmail – as their primary channel for communication. That’s roughly one-in-five web users.
It appears Google has their finger in yet another internet pie.
Here at MentorMate, we use Gmail for our emailing endeavors. One of the reasons Gmail is globally popular is its simplicity. The interface is easy to navigate, spam is kept at bay, it is accessible on the go, there is a ton of storage space, and it is free. If that’s not enough, there are a slew of web browser extensions for us to choose from, all designed to further enrich our Gmail experience. Of the thousands of extensions to befriend, let me introduce you to my three best friends:
Virtually anywhere you look, Gmail users will highly recommend this extension. I first discovered Rapportive in the fall of 2011 and have been in love with it ever since (but don’t tell the others). Like Gmail, it is incredibly simple. Rapportive provides you with top-level data about your contacts directly inside of your inbox. It enables you to see a picture of your contact, lets you know what they do, and shows you where they call home – essentially positioning a lavish amount of contact info right in front of your face in a neatly laid out format. In addition to that, you have the option to add links from your favorite sites to your own Rapportive profile. They currently support 220 different sites ranging from social networks to Google apps to personal websites. Any link added to your profile will appear with your latest updates, allowing anyone who views your profile to interact personally with you. You can connect with your contacts on LinkedIn, tweet them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, pin them on Pinterest, and other weird verbs paired with social sites.
But perhaps the coolest feature of Rapportive? You can find almost anybody’s email address as long as it is publicly available. The guys at Distilled have taken that process a step further as you can see from the video (click that link!).
Many have already jumped on the Rapportive train; the extension presently looks up more than 20 million contacts per month. Rapportive is a must-have for anyone who knows people and uses email.
Boomerang for Gmail
Do you ever open an email, find yourself too busy to respond, and then forget about it altogether? Or compose an email that you ultimately want to arrive at a later time? If so, Boomerang ought to make you very giddy. It solves both of those life-threatening dilemmas and does so with a beautifully designed user interface. You can write an email when inspiration hits, such as a follow up thank you note from an event itself or a detailed message to yourself plotting your future takeover of the world, and schedule it to arrive at a pre-determined time when the contents of the message will be more applicable. You can schedule the message to be sent at virtually any time you like – 11:37 PM tonight? Boomeranged. Your mother’s birthday next month? Boomeranged. The day after the predicted Mayan apocalypse to celebrate your survival? Fingers crossed, then Boomeranged. As you can already see, this feature can come in handy in a multitude of ways.
Like I alluded to earlier, this extension also works miracles as a reminder tool. If you’re like me and you often open email messages before you wish you would have, you can return the conversation to your inbox in a similar fashion to the sending process. This works great for bill payment reminders, event invitations, marketing blasts from which you aspire to unsubscribe to (but later, in case that elusive, once-in-a-lifetime offer comes along), and other stirring emails which you might like to reread.
To sum it all up, here is the Boomerang demo video, which does a fantastic job showcasing its effortless versatility.
PowerInbox is the newest addition to my extension armada and it is rapidly ascending in the ranks. As the creators of PowerInbox put it, “it brings apps to your emails”. Most apps are created to be interactive and to provide the user with real-time data. That’s largely how the most well-liked apps became so…well-liked. Instead of needing to click a link to access services from sources like Facebook, Netflix, Groupon, or YouTube, among others, you can mingle with those sites directly inside of your message. In a nutshell, it brings outside websites to your inbox.
To really make things impressive, PowerInbox launched Connect API this past April, allowing third-party mail clients to directly integrate their service without requiring the installation of the PowerInbox software by the user. They have partnered with three lesser-known email providers – Fuser, SMAK, and UnifiedInbox (no Gmail, yet) – to test the launch. One area I can see being impacted by this? Email marketing strategy for business. They already invade our inboxes like it’s their job (…wait a minute) so why not eliminate a few extra steps by bringing the product to the message itself? Customers typically enjoy things that are easy, foolproof, and up front. PowerInbox is definitely serving that niche.
It seems the future of email has only just begun.
See for yourself just how easy email can be:
Have more Gmail extensions you’re crazy about? Please share!