Sending email into Slack is an oft-overlooked feature launched last year. It’s quite simple and often used to share important messages with a team, but when combined with outside services, you can set up some fairly clever workflows. It’s a feature available on all paid plans, and we hope the following examples of our own email workflows give you a few ideas of how to apply these ideas in your own team.
Just the fax
Remember the fax machine? Chances are, you sporadically have to deal with an agency that requires them for communication and verification. Thanks to online fax services, you no longer need to have a physical device and dedicated phone line to send and receive faxes, but with email, you can get all your faxes right inside of Slack.
Sign up for a service like hellofax, which gives you a local number and offers cheap rates for faxing out documents as needed. Bringing all your faxes into Slack is as simple as setting your hellofax email address to the one Slack generates for your preferred channel. Set it up with a descriptive name and set the email icon as the fax emoji and presto! You are getting faxes in Slack. It’s like living in 1988, but in the here and now.
Collaborative publishing, using Slack for auth
Web applications are increasingly moving away from passwords, instead offering authorization solely via email. We call this a Magic Link in Slack. For services like Medium, their native accounts use email verification to facilitate logins, skipping passwords entirely.
The setup of Slack’s own engineering team blog uses email to great effect. First, we created a private channel and invited the members responsible for editing and publication of posts. A Slack Engineering user account at Medium connects to the private channel’s email, which is used to receive login credentials.
Whenever someone has a new post to share, they begin their sign in at Medium, which fires an authorization email into the private channel containing a link. Once clicked, they’re logged in at Medium as the Slack Engineering account and can publish.
It’s a clever little way to offload authorization of shared resources using your own Slack team’s existing structures. If you need to add or remove an editor, simply change the membership of the channel, no need to share lists of passwords or configure multiple authors on outside services.
Build request forms, share results in teams
Say you wanted to automate the process of fielding requests to a specific team in your company. You could start building your own website forms that coupled to a custom incoming webhook formatted as you need, but that’s a bit of work. A much easier option is to use a cloud service to quickly build a form that instantly posts results in relevant channels.
Several channels at Slack are dedicated to fielding requests from other employees. The process starts with creating a form at Wufoo filled with questions, then sending responses to specific team channels that act upon them. Below is our process for employees visiting another office location at Slack. They fill out a form (linked as a pinned item in the channel), then the results are posted in channel where staff prepare welcome docs, finally marking it as complete with an emoji reaction.
Email is one of the oldest internet technologies, used in ways well beyond one-to-one communication. Coupling apps and services to Slack via email is one quick way to automate workflows with minimal development time. Let us know if you come up with your own novel uses for it by tweeting your email workflow ideas to @SlackAPI.