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Gmail shared inbox: Best practices + alternatives to try

Discover how to effectively use a shared inbox in Gmail. Learn best practices and alternatives for enhancing team email coordination.

First published

12.01.2024

Last edited

12.04.2024

Read time

9 minutes


    By Ilija

    An economist by degree, a marketing manager at heart. Seeing my website on the first page of Google is what excites me most. I write mostly about email productivity, email management and AI.

    In this blog post, we'll explore the common obstacles teams face when using shared email inboxes and provide actionable strategies to overcome these challenges, ensuring your team's communication remains seamless and effective.

    We'll also talk about Gmail extensions, showcasing how they offer better alternatives for managing shared email communication. By the end of this article, you'll have a clearer understanding of how to leverage these tools to keep track of assignments, annotate email threads with notes, and highlight important mentions, transforming your email management into a model of efficiency and effectiveness.

    Key points:

    • Gmail's shared inbox lacks features for collaboration, transparency, and task management.
    • This can lead to confusion, duplication of work, and decreased efficiency.
    • Mailbutler offers features like shared notes and tasks, improved customer relationship management, email tracking, and seamless integration with existing workflows.
    • Mailbutler helps teams collaborate effectively, increase productivity, and gain valuable insights into customer interactions.

    What is a Gmail shared inbox?

    Google Collaborative Inbox is a tool within Google Workspace that functions as a shared mailbox, designed to help teams manage emails more effectively.

    Teams that use a shared inbox in Gmail can better organize, delegate, and complete tasks. Users with access to a collaborative inbox can read and respond to emails on behalf of the shared email address, making it easier for teams to handle customer support, sales inquiries, or other shared communication channels. To set up shared inboxes for Gmail, use Google Collaborative Inbox - it allows teams to access a free shared inbox without extra software.

    How to create a shared inbox in Gmail?

    To create a shared inbox in Gmail, you need to use the Google Groups feature. For detailed instructions and more information, refer to Google's official guide at Google Support.

    How to share Gmail inbox?

    • Create a new Gmail account that is specifically for the shared inbox.
    • Share the login credentials with team members who need access.
    • All team members can log in to the shared account to access the shared inbox.

    For more detailed information you can check Google's article.

    Alternative to Gmail's collaborative inbox - Mailbutler

    In email management, particularly for shared inboxes, Mailbutler stands out as a robust solution. Designed for Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook, it enhances inbox functionality in numerous ways, making team collaboration smoother and more effective.

    At its core, Mailbutler is an advanced email extension, fully integrated into Gmail's user interface.

    Key features that make Mailbutler indispensable for teams:

    Mailbutler Notes & Tasks

    They allow users to add notes and automated tasks to their emails and contacts, ensuring they always remember to take necessary actions.

    How the Tasks & Notes feature can help your team:

    For example, you can use the Mailbutler Tasks feature to tell your team which emails need a reply or follow-up and when. You can also use it to notify them to contact clients to confirm an appointment and when. To make these to-dos, use the Tasks feature and share them with Collaborators in two clicks.

    With these two features, you can also turn emails and contacts into to-dos that have specific dates and times for action. Then you can share them with teammates to avoid missing deadlines or opportunities. 

    shared notes and tasks

    Mailbutler Contacts

    You can save any email contact in one place. Contacts feature offers detailed insights into contacts, enabling users to manage them effectively and improve customer relationships.

    How the Contacts feature can help your team:

    In Mailbutler, you can attach your note or task right to the appropriate email or contact. Then, in just two clicks, you can share that note with any other platform user. After sharing a note or task with someone on your team, they can access it.

    You can make your work easier by quickly sharing contact info with everyone using a few clicks. In addition, you can share contacts or their information with other Mailbutler users.

    Mailbutler Contacts offers integration with Apple Contacts, Outlook Contacts, and Google Contacts, allowing for easy import of your entire address book, plus the option to upload contacts through a CSV file.

    Mailbutler's Tags

    Mailbutler Email Tags

    This feature allows for better organization of emails, contacts, templates and etc. It's helpful in categorizing discussions, tasks, and priorities, simplifying the process of finding specific emails.

    How the Tags feature can help your team:

    Mailbutler Tags lets teams categorize emails with words to sort and find them easily, making it easier to manage emails and stay organized. This is really useful when lots of people are working together and dealing with many emails.

    Smart Compose Assistance with AI

    Leveraging AI, Mailbutler's AI helps in crafting emails more effectively, reducing drafting time while maintaining a consistent tone and style.

    Mailbutler's Smart Assistant UI

    The Mailbutler's Smart Assistant UI

    How the Smart Assistant can help your team save time:

    The Smart Assistant can greatly ease the process of composing emails. This tool can help you write professional and effective emails by giving suggestions for responses (both negative and positive). You can save time by selecting a suggested response and sending it with just one click.

    Mailbutler's Email Templates

    These templates simplify the response process, particularly for addressing frequent inquiries or issuing standard updates, ensuring quick and uniform communication.

    How the Email Templates feature can help your team:

    Mailbutler's email templates feature allows teams using shared inboxes to quickly create and use consistent email templates. This saves time by avoiding repetitive writing and ensures uniform branding and communication style across the team, regardless of the email client used.

    Mailbutler's Email Signature templates

    With these, you can create and manage uniform email signatures for your team, reinforcing a consistent and branded communication style.

    How the Email Signature feature can help your team:

    Mailbutler's email signatures make it easy for teams to use the same signature. This keeps all emails looking neat and the same, no matter who sends them, helping to make the team's brand look good in different email programs.

    Mailbutler's Collaborators

    You can collaborate with your team using Mailbutler's Collaborators in Outlook, Gmail, and Apple Mail. 

    Discover what it’s like to share tasks, contacts, signatures, notes, and email templates with your whole team and keep everyone informed. To start your 14-day free trial, sign up for an account. Then, install the Mailbutler extension for Gmail from the Chrome Web Store and create a shared inbox in Gmail with access to outstanding collaborative features.

    Best practices for shared inbox Gmail management 

    Set clear security protocols

    To keep your business insights and customer data safe, change passwords often, don't write them on sticky notes, or use a shared mailbox for personal emails. Also, avoid logging in with unsecured Wi-Fi networks. To add more security, use multi-factor authentication (MFA) besides a password. To keep communication secure, turn on the TLS compliance setting for specific domains and addresses.

    Whenever someone on the team leaves, you must change the password once more. Former employees can access valuable business insights and your customers’ information if forgotten. Today, data is gold, so losing it can break trust in your community and cause everyone harm. 

    Some good news on this front! In February 2024, Google will put even more effort into making email safer and more secure. Regardless of the situation, using a specialized, alternative shared Gmail inbox is always safer. This type of mailbox should not cause worries about security, privacy, or accountability.

    Use canned responses

    Canned responses are pre-written answers or messages for common questions. This feature is very useful when team members in collaborative workplaces often get similar emails. They are mostly used for sales, support, or marketing canned responses

    Pre-written messages are great for better engaging customers during a conversation and giving faster and more consistent responses. 

    To create appropriate canned responses, identify the frequently asked questions for sales, support, or marketing teams. You should always strive to create clear canned messages that share real information effectively. Regularly check and revise pre-written answers to match policy, procedure, and common question changes.

    Maintain a clean shared mailbox

    There’s a lot you can do to maintain a clean shared workspace. Firstly set up labels to categorize emails based on projects, teams, or topics. Then create filters to automatically apply labels and organize incoming emails. Make sure to regularly review and save emails that you might need later, even if they aren't important right now. Delete emails that have no long-term value to reduce clutter. 

    To stay organized, sort folders by projects, clients, or types of communication. Establish guidelines for team members to consistently apply labels to emails. Consistent labeling makes it easier to find and manage emails. Make sure you periodically review existing labels and update them as needed. Always remove or merge labels that are no longer relevant or necessary.

    The cons of Gmail's shared inbox 

    Google Collaborative Inbox is more efficient than using multiple personal email accounts, but it has limitations. Here are some of them:

    Lack of transparency

    Real collaboration is a lot more than a group of people working in one inbox. For example, tools like Mailbutler let you add notes within a shared inbox. You can use this feature to give context to a team member or add more detail to a conversation. This helps when you need to escalate an issue or if someone else encounters a similar question later.

    With Gmail’s Collaborative Inbox, you’re not able to do that. When someone takes over a conversation, they may not have all the information they need. They might not be able to ask in real-time or read the whole email thread. 

    This shortcoming means more work for your team and longer wait times for those who need help. Using integrated collaborative tools helps everyone succeed and is worth it if you have the resources.

    Delegation challenges 

    Lack of clarity in delegated tasks can lead to misunderstandings and delays. To prevent this, clearly communicate tasks when delegating. Use task management tools with email to provide more details and context. To keep track of assigned tasks, use tools such as Google Tasks, Google Keep, or project management platforms. 

    These tools can provide a somewhat centralized task management and progress tracking. But, your shared mailboxes can still get filled with many emails, making it hard to find and handle assigned tasks.

    Duplication of work

    Another limitation this feature has is the lack of sharing mechanisms. If someone wrote the canned responses, they would need to share them with coworkers to be united. To do so, they would have to add them manually which adds a few steps to an already busy schedule. Categorizing messages isn’t available on canned responses. If you have lots of pre-written messages, you'll need to sort through them to find the right one when replying.

    Lack of dedicated features

    Gmail is mainly for individuals and has fewer collaboration features compared to team email solutions. The shared calendars and task management are not as advanced or integrated. It can be hard to know who read or responded to emails in a shared mailbox. Gmail does not have many tools for managing and tracking conversations in a shared mailbox.

    Version conflicts

    If many people use the same mailbox at once, there may be version conflicts. This is especially likely if they are writing or editing emails at the same time. Gmail's interface isn't designed for teamwork. It may not be as user-friendly for shared mailboxes as other collaborative platforms.

    Gmail shared inbox FAQs 

    Can you have a shared inbox in Gmail? 

    The platform allows you to share inbox Gmail with a feature called delegation. It lets one person give another person access to their account, without giving them the password. The user can then read, send, and delete emails on behalf of the delegator.

    How do I create a collaborative inbox in Gmail? 

    To set up a Google Group:

    1. Go to Google Groups and create a new group.
    2. Add your team's members to the group.
    3. Configure permissions for members, such as allowing them to post, view topics, etc.

    Can you split your inbox in Gmail? 

    Gmail allows you to set up multiple inboxes, each with its own set of filters and criteria. This can be useful for creating virtual sections within your inbox.

    To enable Multiple Inboxes:

    1. Go to Gmail Settings.
    2. Click on the "Advanced" tab.
    3. In the "Multiple Inboxes" section, choose your settings.

    How do I manage a shared mailbox in Gmail? 

    Implement these steps to streamline the process:

    • Set up filters to route specific types of emails to designated team members.
    • Create shared labels for specific projects, clients, or topics.
    • Use email templates for standardized responses to common queries.
    • Use task management tools or Gmail's built-in tasks to track and manage action items.

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