This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Vocus.io. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.
Despite its wide use, Gmail lacks a few capabilities you’d expect in competing platforms such as Outlook.com or Zoho Mail. Anyone who’s used it to merge emails, coordinate meetings or manage contacts would have found the experience a bit unsatisfactory. And that’s just putting it mildly; it’s quite complicated to extract the full set of features promised by Gmail. Many useful productivity functions are either buried deep in labels or are only available with GSuite apps.
If the lack of these capabilities in Gmail is preventing you from using it for business and collaboration, help might be at hand. A Chrome extension called Vocus.io promises to “make Gmail your competitive advantage.” In this review we’ll examine the claim on its own merit and bring you the Gmail experience from a very different perspective.
About the Product
Vocus.io is a Gmail productivity extension that doubles as an inside sales enabler with features such as email tracking, automated follow-ups, prospecting, mail mergers, and so forth. While the product might appear to be geared toward business users, it seems there’s something in it for everyone.
After giving it a try, I found it more than met my expectations. There’s a lot under the hood in terms of advanced features but with a single point limitation: you can’t use the extension with anything other than a Chrome web browser. Another thought would be to have an Android/iOS app because that’s what nearly 50 percent of Gmail users are using. But if you use Gmail mostly with Chrome, Vocus.io is aimed at you.
Installation and Setup
Installing the Vocus.io Chrome extension is a breeze, and you only have to sync it with your Gmail account. This means you’ll have to give the app standard permissions including the ability to read/write your messages. Since this is a highly trusted app in the Chrome web store and it complies completely with GDPR, I wouldn’t worry too much.
After installation, whenever you log in to your Gmail, you’ll find a Vocus.io dashboard which is easily minimized. Here you can add multiple email accounts under the same pricing plan.
As mentioned above, Vocus.io has a lot of features under the hood. The lightweight extension is barely visible on the webmail window but quickly gets down to business while you’re writing an email. There’s a lot more you can achieve now within the Gmail compose window.
I found it very comfortable and easy to track emails from the get-go. Vocus.io gives you status updates in its dashboard, so you can know easily if someone opened your email and whether they clicked on your links. Keep in mind this is a very professional feature for any email provider. Outlook.com has “read receipts,” but Gmail couldn’t have come all this way on its own.
Currently, dealing with the Gmail calendar on its own is not very easy. Vocus.io has a “Coordinator” feature which helps you set up meetings without any trouble. The feature does allow me to share my availability; however, I’d have liked the capability to “edit notes” in the calendar itself rather than going back to the compose window.
That said, the company has assured us they are working on a “revamped” version of this feature.
This is by far the best feature Vocus.io offers, and I was really impressed with the sophisticated attention to detail. I could compare the overall experience with some of the best CRM templates such as Salesforce or HubSpot. Basically, you can use this feature to send hundreds of personalized emails to your leads and get a complete report in .csv format.
Small and medium businesses looking for a budget email campaign solution might find Vocus.io’s mail merge solution a real money-saver.
No Reply Automatic Follow-ups
Did your prospects not reply to your emails? Vocus.io has an automated, no-reply follow-up feature that helps you create a personalized, multi-stage sequence of emails.
I believe it’s a very useful feature because if I have to quickly send reminder messages, I’m usually at a loss for words. It’s far more efficient to design your follow-up sequence in advance.
After the template is saved, you can easily select it later while writing an email.
Once a follow-up sequence is imported, it will launch immediately after you send the email.
Want to know if the email someone gave you is genuine? Vocus.io lets you verify if the email exists by typing it in a verification window. Although they claim that the results are highly accurate and not perfect, I tried digging through my own outdated emails and found the results were accurate.
You can also add as many custom snippets as you want to expand any group of keywords to a whole blurb of text. If emailing consumes a lot of your time, this feature will relieve you of the monotony of sending the same messages over and over again.
There are also “Send later” and “snooze” features for scheduling emails for a later date/time.
The cheapest Vocus.io plan “Basic” is available for $5 per month, and it covers many of the discussed features except mail merge. For that, you need to go for a “Starter” or “Professional” package at $10 or $20 per month respectively.
Before reviewing Vocus.io, I would never have thought that it was even possible to use the ordinary Gmail as an integrated productivity and collaboration suite. The extension does work with flawless consistency, so it gives you a whole new way to utilize Gmail for business or work. The only downside, of course, is it doesn’t work with non-Chrome browsers.
However, considering the upside of being able to keep track of your recipients and the numerous shortcuts, Vocus.io will definitely make your life easier with Gmail. For its reasonable cost and the relatively advanced features, I think it’s worth buying even for personal use. Furthermore, small and medium businesses will have an advanced sales tool at their disposal.