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Your love-hate relationship with email could skew more toward the love end of the spectrum in the new year if one startup has anything to say about the matter.
Contactually launches Thursday to help email senders better prioritize their action items and manage relationships.
The company has created a dashboard that connects to multiple IMAP email accounts such as Gmail, Google Apps and Yahoo, as well as customer relationship management products Salesforce or Highrise, to dissect and track communications. Its goal is to help you connect with the right people at the right time.
“The big benefit to our users is this concept of a system that prompts you to take action with really important people,” Contactually co-founder Tony Cappaert told VentureBeat.
The tool, a type of new-age personal contact relationship management system, is best suited for job seekers, consummate networkers and professionals whose livelihoods depend on their ability to foster and maintain relationships. Cappaert describes it as both a powerful prioritization engine and a slick but lightweight CRM system.
After processing your inbox, Contactually creates and maintains profiles for each of your email contacts and attempts to determine the most important folks in your life. It considers explicit signals buried in your email history — whether you’re responding to a contact quickly, for instance — to categorize folks and determine priority levels. You can place contacts into buckets such as coworkers, clients or family to manually categorize your relationships.
The web application will then track your daily email activity, schedule action items and send you two daily email reminders to follow up with key people in your network.
The product has its shortcomings, so don’t expect it be the panacea for your email ague. For starters, the tool simply provides an overview of communication with contacts, and the experience takes place outside your inbox, making it separate destination. Contactually also lacks the depth of automatic social awareness of email-enhancing Rapportive, Xobni amd Gmail’s people widget products, and the message integration of LinkedIn-owned Connected.
As such, the fledging company may find it difficult to convert free users over to paid accounts — premium plans start at $10 per month, but Contactually will always support a basic free plan for consumer users.
In the months ahead, the startup will release support for POP3 and Exchange email accounts, as well integrate with additional CRM systems. Contactually is also working to help fill-in-the-blanks for the followup notices it sends and soon will suggest topics for conversation, Cappaert said.
The startup’s website remains invite-only, but the product is open to all users via the Google Apps Marketplace or Google Chrome Store. Alternatively, VentureBeat users can enter the code “venturebeat” for access to the beta.
Contactually is part of the Fall 2011 500 Startups accelerator batch. The Washington D.C.-based startup has raised $200,000 in Angel funding.
[Image via CarbonNYC/Flickr]
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
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