Sproutit has recently launched its new service, Mailroom. Mailroom is an email management solution built specifically for small businesses, but can work just as well with groups, bloggers, or any individual. It’s not your average email management solution though. This is because it has been built to help you save time that you spend each day with email by learning how you work and performing certain tasks just to speed up the process for you. I’ve read a great interview with Charles Jolley from Sproutit to get some more information on what the service is about to him. Basically it narrows down to the fact that Small Business spend a lot more time then they should on email each day. Charles was asked why Sproutit decided to make Mailroom and he replied, “Well, it sounds boring, but we did market research! We actually talked to about 30 small businesses from around the US. We found that most of them were spending up to half of their day just answering emails!” They found a problem and set out to solve it – and they did. I’ve been testing around with Mailroom for a few days now and I find it to be a very helpful and definitely does save time. Let’s walk through it so you can see why it can help you with your everyday mail.

When you signup to Mailroom, you can select a plan that has one user account (free) or multiple user accounts. Each user gets their own login and Mailroom that is built to work around them. To get started, I’m going to login and we’ll take a look at the “Needs Attention” section of Mailroom. This section is where you recieve only the emails that are waiting for you to reply to or mail that you need to follow up with. As you use the system, it will begin to pickup what email you need to monitor closer and even how to respond to emails (more on this in a bit). The first that that I noticed after using the system for a few days was that unlike most email clients that list email in an ascending order by date, Mailroom shows only email that needs attention and sorted by oldest to newest mail. As I look at my attention page, my mind says, “I need to reply to this email from a few days ago. I’ll do that now.” This is because Mailroom detected that it needed my attention. Not only that but if you come across an email that is very important, you can mark it as a hotlist conversation which will then have the email show on the top of the list with a flag next to it.

On the top of the attention page, you will see your list of email. Clicking on an email will then open it in the below area (using Ajax) displaying the email along with some options for you to select. Messages are shown in an easy to read style and also appears to be a text only client. But what about Mailroom makes it so special? As I have said, Mailroom learns how you work with your mail. It will take note of tags that you assign to mail, actions such as closing an email, marking mail as spam, replying to a message, or even assigning mail to another account. Just to let you know why the assigning functionality is important, take the scenario that you are a programmer but you recieved an email in your attention page for the support department. You can then simply select the email and assign it to the support account. This will then close the email, direct it to support, and tell Mailroom to remember to assign emails such as that to support rather then yourself. You can also tag any email you receive. You simply select the edit link next to “tags:” and fill in your tags or if you have previously created tags, you can select the ones you want from the list. Now lets move onto the most important functionality of Mailroom, sending replies to your mail.

As you make replies to your mail, Mailroom will save your reply to the “Saved Replies” page (above screenshot). It will remember that you sent a certain reply for a certain reason, place it in this page, and send it to the contact. You can then come to the “Saved Replies” section to add, edit, or remove saved replies. But why? Because these are the messages that Mailroom will use to learn the way you work and suggest replies for you to use when sending a reply to an email.

Making a reply works much like your normal client except except with the added functionality that Mailroom offers. When you click on the reply button, a message box will appear on top of the message labeled, “Suggested Reply.” Depending on how smart Mailroom has become from your use, it should show a saved reply that will match with the email allowing you to easily modify what is needed from it and send it on its way in a matter of seconds. If a suggested email is not what you were looking for, you will see two arrows at the top right of the message box that will let you browse through your other saved messages that may work for the reply. If not, then you just fill it out as you normally would. You would then send out the message and Mailroom will learn from this reply to help with future suggestions. The more you reply, the stronger the suggestions get. Also a note that when sending replies, the “From:” headers point to the sproutitmail.com email address you are given. But Sproutit has told me that this is soon going to be changed and Mailroom will allow you to set it to any address that you want. For now, I’m fine with it, but when they get that set, I will be a lot happier with the service.

The beauty of Mailroom is the organization (with user assigning) and the sending of email because it makes it so simple for you. You only get mail that requires your attentions and the fact that it learns what you need write when making a reply by the suggestions it provides so you can view and send in a matter of seconds. Sure, you will probably have to edit a few sentences, add some specifics, names, etc., but it certainly saves you from writing out a whole email. This is perfect for small businesses, or anyone really that is highly involved with email. I know I definitely could have used it the other day with 140 comments mailed to me the other day for my coComment review!

(Note: Blurred some contacts for privacy)

The last feature that I want to discuss is the contacts section, or the “People” section as Mailroom refers to it. You may wonder what is so special about a section that lists your contacts? Well, to start off, contacts are listed in an unusual box type manor. But because of this, it actually makes it easier to view all your contacts and provides some useful information. On the top you will see all the Mailroom users and on the bottom contacts that have sent you email. Each email provides basic information like the contacts name and email but also gives you the last time the contact has been active and how many emails you have from that contact. Clicking on the contact will then go to a page that will display all the emails you have received from that contact. The contacts section is very well done in my opinion and I like how it adds contact info for received email because you never know when you’ll need to contact that person back or look back in your archive of mail for a specific contact.

As you would probably guess, Mailroom does not limit your email viewing to attention only. You can view all mail that is assigned to you or any of your fellow Mailroom users. You can also search through mail, view mail by tags, and even filter out by date or by status. Status being needing attention, waiting for reply, closed, or junk mail. The searching is available anywhere on in Mailroom on the top left and the viewing and filtering of all mail is possible through the “All Messages” section. I love being able to add tags to the email I receive and then easily being able to find mail again by just selecting tags I have used. Very simple.

Overall I find Sproutit Mailroom to be an excellent solution for email management. It is great to see a service such that targets small businesses to help save time with email so they can get back to doing what they want. There are five different plans that you can select from, one being free. So make sure you test it out and see how it works for you and/or your company. Everything seemed to work very well and there are updates on their way. I’m excited to see how this takes off. You can keep up with Sproutit at The Big Act and also you will find another blog for Mailroom specifically when you signup. And lastly, make sure to checkout Sproutit’s DEMO presentation where they show you how to use Mailroom and even put it to the test with a 30 second timer. I will definitely be using this sometime in the near future, but may wait to use it full-scale until they get the “From:” headers to point to whatever address I set. But overall, loved it, definitely helpful, and definitely saves a lot of time. Great work to the Sproutit team.

View Sproutit Mailroom for Small Business Email Management.

10 Comments on “Sproutit Mailroom for Small Business Email Management”

  1. Your biz our biz says:

    Email management system meant for Small Businesses…

    Sproutit has launched an email management solution exclusively for small and medium scale businesses (and also compatible for bloggers). The solution promises less spent time on email for the day. Charles from Sproutit did a market research, asked 30…..

  2. Mike M says:

    What is the difference between what mailroom is offering and what Gmail Hosted is offering (see http://verusnova.com/blog/index.php/2006/02/13/gmail-offers-hosted-mail-solution-for-your-domain/)

  3. Charles Jolley says:

    Hi Mike:

    Aside from the fact that you can actually use Mailroom today and not Gmail for your Domain, Mailroom helps you deal with the email you would receive from customers every day that asks the same 10 or 15 questions over and over again. By helping you organize this email and by suggesting replies, Mailroom can save you a lot of time.

    Gmail is just a hosted email service for now.

    In fact, Mailroom does not compete with Gmail right now. You can use Gmail to host most of your email (we do) and then use Mailroom only to help you handle your sales and support email while you continue to use Outlook or Gmail’s interface to deal with your personal email.

    Thanks for the review Brian. We plan to roll out the reply address thing next week. Be sure to let us know how it works for you.

  4. diatribe » Blog Archive » Of Interest v20060304.1 says:

    [...] Small business? Smart email management? SW article on Sproutit. [...]

  5. Getting Down to Business » Solution Watch says:

    [...] I’ve recently reviewed a new service for small business, Sproutit’s Mailroom. Mailroom is a simple email management service that aims to help you spend less time on email and more time on work. In an Technosight interview with Charles Jolley of Sproutit, Charles had said, “We actually talked to about 30 small businesses from around the US. We found that most of them were spending up to half of their day just answering emails!” I then began to think of the amount of time I spend on email each day and I was actually quite shocked. I am constantly sending emails for work, and when I am done working, I have email to manage for Solution Watch and other personal emails. So how does Sproutit Mailroom help? Sproutit has a unique system that learns the way you send and receive email. It finds email that needs attention the most and displays them on one page, allows for tagging, re-assigning of emails to other users, and even suggests replies. Suggests replies? Simply put, when you send an email with Mailroom, the email will be saved allowing Mailroom to learn which replies are more commonly used with each email. Then, the next time you write a reply, it will suggest one for you that you can base the reply off of. This is definitely a huge time-saver. [...]

  6. nickbaum.com » Blog Archive » Mailroom says:

    [...] blogarchivesabout [...]

  7. Pozycjonowanie says:

    Do you konow any other solutions like Mailroom?

  8. Mike Bedwell says:

    As an academic, I find myself telloing my students of the pre-email days when organizations had a physical mailroom where incoming mail was sorted, logged with both the sender’s and receiver’s reference number, and the name of the individual to whom the mail was passed on. The more conservative companies would print on their letter head :”correspondence should be addressed to the firm, and not to individuals….”

    Contrast with today, when I get an email from “John”, but when I try to contact “John” a week or two later, find (or am left to infer) that he has mooved on, so I have to start all over again with my enquiry.

    I believe other academics have argued that the advent of electronic communication has in no way altered the traditional mailroom function, which ensures (1) customers get reliable service and (2) bosses can monitor their subordinates’ performance.

    Do you have any references on this please?
    Does your sysyerm address the problem?

  9. nike air force 1 sneakers says:

    Nice article. Very helpful, thanks!!

  10. Internet Website Design says:

    this seems pretty ambitious – a software program that learns your email habits and needs – but iff it does just that then its wonderful how does it compare head-to-head vs Windows Live Mail?