First things first: I’m writing this blog post because CloudHQ has a promotion where if you write a blog post about them you can get the premium version of their apps free for a year.
But the corollary that is I’m willing to write at least 300 words and publicly shill because I want the premium version of the apps that much.
The only one that I’m using so far is Export Emails to Google Sheets, which I’m using for an ongoing research project on business communications related to COVID-19. That’s right, I’ve been collecting spam, promotion, sale, and closure emails – from several people – since March. It’s a really cool dataset, full of closure dates, reopening dates, messaging, personal reassurances from CEOs, and every company under the sun now selling face masks and hand sanitizer. It’s a dataset that, as of right now, consists of over 5300 emails.
As you might expect, I initially scoped the volume I’d be getting (mis-estimating by a factor of 10 and also several month), and decided that I wanted to automate as much as humanly possible. So I scoped out and tried multiple different Chrome extensions and apps that look at email inboxes. I even looked into learning enough Python to code one myself, because so many tools are aimed at wildly different things, like customer management or assessing productivity. What I needed, all I needed, but what I needed incredibly robustly, was information scraping and archiving.
The free version of the CloudHQ app does almost everything I need! It extracts the emails – with options to save the emails themselves as PDFS, fantastic for archiving – as well as the date, subject, and sender. In addition to saving the emails as PDFs, it scrapes the plain text into a field in the spreadsheet it generates. After having gone through and hand-coded some of the same data, I’m comfortable saying that it has already saved me hours upon hours of work.
The only challenge: the free version caps you at 50 a month. I . . . am not getting 50 emails a month I want to record. I’m not only getting far more than that, I have the massive backlog. I’m also really hopeful that the email support that comes with the premium version can result in getting some help with some of my more arcane data needs (since almost everything is forwarded, I don’t need the ‘from,’ I need the original sender). But it’s a robust extension with a convenient UI, and I’ve had a really positive experience using it so far.