The average office employee receives 121 emails every day and sends half as many. Some call it old school but email still gets things done.
Small business owners who want to set up an email account may find that Microsoft Outlook is a good choice. This software merges messaging and productivity under one intuitive interface, delivering a range of personal information management tools (including a calendar and contact manager) along with a powerful email solution.
In this article, we’ll discuss two productivity features of Outlook so you can decide whether or not the software meets your business email needs. Next, we’ll walk you through how to set up Outlook both automatically and manually. Once it’s up and running, you can set up automated tasks, your email signature and offline email access. Let’s dive in.
How Outlook email can improve productivity for small business
So, why use Outlook in the first place? For many businesses and employees, there are two key ways it can help improve productivity: Outlook lets you work offline and it allows you to organize your email the way that works best for you.
Offline Access to Email
Being able to access your emails on the go is a key feature for many executives and business owners. Even far away from our desks, we want access to email and the absence of wi-fi shouldn’t stop us.
This is where email backlogs come in handy. With Outlook, you can work through your inbox on your flight or anywhere else you might not have an internet connection. There’s no need to wait until you’re back at your desk, you can now use this time offline to knock out administrative tasks.
Offline access lets you take care of basic email tasks, such as reading emails, responding to emails and saving drafts. Once you’re back online, all the emails you drafted offline will be sent.
Organize Email the Way You Want
Outlook offers a number of options for organizing your emails. You can arrange multiple mailboxes alphabetically, sort emails into custom categories and apply labels to assist discovery later on. You get to tailor the look, feel and hierarchy of your email workflows.
This kind of personalized organization can ultimately make your work simpler. You can set reminders for emails to ensure that you reply by a specific date, use the built-in decluttering tool and access ready-made email templates to send common emails effortlessly.
Now, let’s look into how to set up your email on Outlook. There are two ways to do this: manually and automatically. Before you start, make sure you have your email address and password handy.
How to Set Up Your Outlook Email
Whether you set up your Outlook manually or automatically, it’s a good idea to speak with your IT service or hosting provider before you get started. They can help you determine which approach is right for you. They will also be able to tell you what server you should choose during the setup process; you’ll be selecting either a POP or IMAP server.
How to Set Up Outlook Email Manually
In this section, we’ll go through the steps to manually configure and set up an Outlook email account. Start by opening Outlook on your computer. Head to Tools > Accounts and click the “Plus” button in the bottom left-hand corner and select “New Account…:”
Then, follow the wizard by entering the following information:
- Your email address and password (if you have an @outlook.com address)
- If you use Gmail, Outlook will automatically redirect you to connect your account
- If you don’t have access to the above, you’ll need to select the POP or IMAP option.
- Click Next
The page that appears now will ask for user information. Please enter your email details:
- Enter your full name under “Name.”
- Enter your full email address under “Email address.”
- Choose a server according to your preference. There are two available choices: POP or IMAP.
Next, in the “Incoming email server” box, enter the address of the mailbox in lower case. For example, “mail.web.com” or an IP address.
The “Outgoing email server” (known as SMTP) should be the same as the mailbox you entered above (e.g mail.web.com)
Under log on Information, enter the following information:
- In the space for username, enter the part of your email address before the @. If you get an error, try entering your full email instead.
- Enter your password.
- If you do not wish to type in the login details every time you access Outlook, just check the box that says “Remember password.”
Now you’ll have the option to test connectivity settings, which we recommend you do. If everything is set up correctly, Outlook will confirm access to the SMTP server and the POP3 server. Once you’ve successfully logged in, you’ll receive a test message that contains the details of this initial setup.
Click on Next, followed by Finish, and you should be good to go!
How to set up Outlook email automatically
In some cases, you’ll be able to set up Outlook automatically. Here’s the step by step process:
- Launch Outlook from your computer.
- Select the File tab.
- In the Info category, select Account Settings > Account Settings in the dropdown menu
- In the Email tab, select “New.”
In the “Add New Account” dialog box, enter the following settings in the Email Account section under Auto Account Setup:
- In the “Your Name” box, type your full name.
- In the “Email Address” box, type your email address.
- Enter your password in the input box for password.
- Retype the password in the box below.
After you have entered these details, Outlook will set up an email account by searching for mail servers and assigning them. Once Outlook has finished configuring the account, you’ll get a message saying that the account has been created successfully. You can select Finish > Close to complete the setup process.
Now that your email is up and running on your computer, let’s see how we can access some of the advanced features we hinted at earlier.
How to personalize your Outlook email
Set Up Offline Access For Outlook
This feature is super simple to set up. To turn Outlook Web App offline access on or off on Windows:
- Head to Settings. Click the Settings icon and select Options > General > Offline Settings.
- Check the “Turn on offline” access checkbox to turn it on.
- Click Save.
On Mac, you can activate the setting by:
- Clicking “Outlook” in the menu bar
- Click “Work Offline”
- Alternatively, click the “Online/Offline” switch under “Tools:”
Now, you’ll have access to your emails on the go—even when you don’t have an internet signal!
Create Automated Tasks from Emails
With Outlook, you can easily copy information from an email to a task. This is a great way to improve productivity and save your time!
Imagine, for example, that your coworker sends you an email asking you to finalize a report by Wednesday. Rather than manually creating a separate task with a deadline and copy/pasting the information from one location to another, you can simply turn that email into a task in Outlook.
This way, everything from the email is automatically copied over to the new task. You can also set a due date and reminder date and label it with a specific task category.
Here’s how to do it:
- Select the email you want to turn into a task.
- Hold down the left button on your mouse or touchpad and drag the email into Tasks.
- Once you release the email into Tasks, the text in the email will copy itself into a new task and you can set your parameters from there.
Customize Your Email Signature
It’s easy to set up your email signature, but a good signature does more than indicate your name and title. It can give recipients a glimpse of your identity, make it easy for people to check out your social media profiles, and provide an opportunity to expand your professional network. It could also help turn contacts into customers.
That doesn’t mean you need to make a sales pitch out of it. Keep your signature simple and relevant. Just add enough information to evoke interest. A call to action that points to a specific landing page, a blog post or webinar is enough.
Don’t forget to link to social media accounts. Instead of including links that mention Facebook or Twitter, use icons. Icons are more recognizable than text, and you’ll save space too.
Here’s a simple example that ticks all the boxes:
These days, more than 50% of emails are opened on mobile, and this number is increasing every year. This is why you should give first priority to responsive design. Your signature (along with everything else) should be easy to read—otherwise, recipients may close the email before they even get to the bottom.
A poorly displayed email will get deleted in under 3 seconds, and 15% of users have no qualms about unsubscribing instead of just deleting the email. This is why the text should be large enough so that it can be easily read on a smartphone. Content should also be organized in a logical hierarchy with easy to access call to action buttons.
Wrapping it up
Outlook is a smart choice for small business owners who want offline access to their inbox. It also provides productivity tools like customizable organization and automated tasks from emails.
Now that we’ve shown you how to configure your Outlook manually or automatically, you’re all set to stay on top of your inbox!