How My Inbox Regained Its Sanity

A few years ago Gmail introduced the promotions inbox, which was kind of a intermediate spam folder. I stopped using it almost immediately, mainly because there were emails going there that should have shown up in my primary inbox,  which continued to be inundated with marketing and sales email. Hell, I can't turn down a good lead magnet. I've created a Google Drive file just for them. But the collateral mess that began to pollute my inbox became frustrating and overwhelming.

I tried some of the inbox cleaning services like and SaneBox, but they didn't really unsubscribe me from mailing lists, they just direct deposited emails into my trash folder befoer I could even see them. This also became problematic when, later on I wanted to reengage with some of the accounts that had been included in the scrubs. Even the emails I wanted to receive ended up in the discard pile.

A few years ago I created a completely separate email account that I use only for signing up for marketing opt-ins. My personal account is strictly personal, and my professional account is strictly professional. If I get an email in either one of those, I know it's something I want to look at fairly soon. That works really well.

Here's what happened to my marketing email account. First thing, the sheer volume of emails I receive is incredible. I kept track for the first year, and in that time I signed up for 134 lead magnets. Over the next year I received 18,000 emails on that account. I would estimate that about a third were from the sources I'd signed up for, the rest were absolute spam that I'm guessing were the result of my email address being sold by some of the lists I'd opted into, and others were probably generated by Google who sees all and knows all. Now, three years later this account has received upward of 50,000 emails from 168 known opt-ins.

There are a handful of these accounts that I've found I really want to hear from, and I've migrated them back to my other accounts. I occasionally will scan through a couple of pages of the rest of them, but by and large I haven't had much interest past the lead magnet. Gmail also has awesome filters that allow me to choose ahead of time which inbox or folder my messages are sent to. I use these all the time.

This has been a valuable exercise for someone who does use email marketing to promote my various projects. I'll write about these insights in a separate post, but for now it's enough to say that I've started to take the time to make my emails and social media posts, too into more personal sharing that people are happy to receive. Yes, I still include a call to action sometimes, but by and large, I'm staying away from hype headlines and tight copy in favor of helpful insights and personal observations.

The best news of all is that my personal and professional email accounts are now virtually spam free. I receive the mail I want to read, and I still have a way to gain access to those marketers who I really want to hear from.

Send me a post on Twitter to let me know how you handle your inbox.