Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What is an email digest?

An email digest is a collection of all the pending emails addressed to a user who had subscribed to a particular website or group that has an electronic mailing list. It is an opt-in feature in the electronic mailing list applications of many large Internet companies such as Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, MSN, Youtube and many others. Essentially, an email digest summarizes all the subscriber’s email notifications that has accumulated over a period of time ( daily, weekly or monthly ) and puts them all together into just one email.

Websites like Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, Youtube and other big names in the industry incorporate the functionalities of an email digest into the electronic mailing list application that they use in the processing of communications between them and their subscribers. The making of an email digest is also a standard service featured in the operations of companies specializing in email management like GNU Mail, LISTSERV, MIMECAST and many others.

These Internet companies put email digests into operation by sending just one email to the subscriber which sums up all the pending notification emails on the subscriber’s account in the website ( these notifications pertain to events such as other people’s comments, replies, friend requests, all occuring on the particular subscriber’s account on the website).

The subscriber can also choose from several options in addressing the email digest that he receives. He can ignore some emails and review others; he can block others and permit some; and he can also choose the frequency of coming for the email digests as to whether daily, weekly or monthly.

The making of email digests lies in the software that is the electronic mailing list application. Electronic mailing lists are powerful applications capable of handling the tasks of processing communications between the web company and their subscriber base which sometimes reach into the millions.

Who makes use of email digests and why?

Web companies, web groups and their corresponding websites create interactivity for the users who access their websites through a variety of tools that are featured within their websites. One indispensable tool that is very basic to the operation of a web company is the electronic mailing lists. The making of an email digest is a capability that electronic mailing lists feature as an option for subscribers. Although a basic tool in most web companies, electronic mailing lists sees farther advancement with specialist companies like GNU Mailman, LISTSERV, Mimecast and others.

Both the web company and the subscribers benefit greatly from the usage of email digests in their Internet communications. The web company uses the email digest to make an order out of the chaotic tasks of updating and informing its thousands and sometimes even millions of subscribers while the subscribers take great delight in the satisfaction of having an overall summary of events in their accounts in just one email instead of having to respond to each notification email from the website one by one.

How to utilize email digests

Inundations of email notifications are a common occurrence in most well known email service providers. These email notifications come from a variety of sources ( websites that the email account owner registered in) and they send notifications for just about everything that happens to a subscriber’s account in their website. Subscribers weary of this scenario can opt for an email digest to be sent to them instead. Email notifications will then come in lesser number but with greater content, greatly increasing the efficiency by which a subscriber can respond to these notifications.

Some websites facilitate email communications with their subscribers by having email digest services within their electronic mailing lists. But with other websites, a subscriber will have to make use of a third party which specializes in the management of emails.

To begin using email digests, a subscriber opts for it in his account in the website he is registered in( if the website has email digest options) or applies for another registration to a company which manages emails which will then handle the bulk of the management of email notifications by sending just email digest summaries to the subscriber. Examples of web companies doing this are Quora, Medium and Nuzzle.

Advantages of using email digests

The advantage of using email digests is plain to see to anyone who had experienced email notifications inundations. Many events happen to any account in a website, and if these events are transmitted one by one, then email recipients can easily be overwhelmed.

Email digests prevent these pressures coming from the inundations of email notifications by collecting these notifications and summarizing them into a digest before sending it to the subscriber. Subscribers receiving their email digests once daily or weekly are certainly much better off than others receiving hundreds even thousands of notification emails in their email accounts.

Disadvantages of email digest

Some problems could arise with the formatting of the email when it is transferred from one form to another as when summarizing many individual notifications into one email digest. Especially occurring in the use of common texts combined with hypertext, web administrators needs to understand and address this so as to present the email digest appealingly to the readers.

Another issue with the use of email digest is choosing what information should go with the digest. Too little or too much information gives the same result of the subscribers ignoring the digest and instead paying attention to other emails from other companies.

Best practices in using email digest

First, with respect to the web company’s side, the administrator in charge of managing the email digest should be careful in the customizations that go with setting up the email digest. Email digests are automated functions within the email lists application of the website but administrators also play a role in the customizations that go with the sending out of email digests. Admins set up the spam filters, the file attachments policy and many other features of the email digest. He must also determine what information goes with the digest.

On the part of the receiver, it is good practice to put all very active websites emails into digest form. Seek this service first from the website that owns the active emails, and if absent, then go for web companies offering this service. Web companies specializing in this will not only give email digest but also security, spam filters and advanced management of emails.

Teamreporter as email digest

Teamreporter greatly helps in the communications of remote workers and virtual teams. It provides the ideal tool for keeping remote working teams updated on the team’s and the project’s progress.

Teamreporter is a web based email application which summarizes all the individual developments from the members of the project team and presents them into an overview of all the ongoing efforts of the team.

The overview that Teamreporter provides to each member is much like the email digest that some web companies provide to their subscribers. And as such, they both increase the efficiency of the recipient by increasing the content per delivery of email while decreasing time required in addressing the email. In operation, Teamreporter does the following:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Tailoring the questions to be asked to fit project needs
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries.
  • Team members replying with their status reports.
  • Upon receiving individual team member reports,scheduling of overall status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for Team members

Teamreporter is the ideal email digest for remote working teams for keeping updated.

Alternatives to email digest

There are some Internet companies in the market that offer abilities derived from the making of email digest but applied to other uses. Some of them are:

  • Social Mention – a website which monitors what other people say about you and your product.
  • Meltwater News – a Public Relations monitoring web company
  • Mention – the most advanced company in this field, which monitors any mention of pre-set keywords important to the company in all the web and social networks in can monitor.

Learn more about Teamreporter

Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)