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Review: Hubscriber vs Sanebox

Comparison of each tool's philosophy, features, and benefits

· Review,PRM

tl;dr Sanebox is an inbox management tool, whereas Hubscriber is a PRM tool.

Philosophy

Most people nowadays understand the advantages of separating your "work life" from your "home life." We can see evidence of this by observing how people behave differently at work versus home.

For example, at home, you are more likely to wear clothes that foster relaxation, while at work, you are more likely to "look presentable." Another example: your work "home base" is usually an office, while your personal life "home base" is usually your home. Finally, you tend to use one email address for work and another for your personal life.

On the desirability of this work-home separation, Sanebox and Hubscriber would probably agree.

But where Hubscriber and Sanebox might diverge is on the issue of what should be included in "work life" or "personal life" email? Sanebox, like most other email tools and services, would probably espouse the default answer: what gets included in your email inbox is anything that comes from a sender you gave your email address to.

sanebox price

So at work, for example, you have your co-workers and your clients, and then you have vendors; but you also have this large group of email senders which includes vendors you do not yet do business with--perhaps we could call these current vendors and potential vendors. Out of those four sources of emails, Hubscriber's philosophical difference is that we believe emails from "vendors," "providers," and any company you buy from should be diverted to a totally different tool, a tool that is not your inbox for the rest of your emails.

Think about it. Suppose you are a salesperson. Your job is to win new business from clients. To do that, you lean heavily on a tool called a CRM ("customer relationship management"). This tool syncs with your email inbox, of course, and this is because email is still a primary medium for communicating with prospects, and will remain a primary medium even after you have won the deal. But you do not rely on your inbox to "manage those relationships" with customers. Instead, you rely on your CRM, which is a tool design specifically for that purpose.

Similarly, we believe that you also need a tool designed specifically to manage vendor/provider relationships--whatever you wish to call your relationship with those companies your buy from. Why? Because like a CRM, you should not have to use your inbox as the single source of truth for what is happening with your customer-provider relationship; because not only is the email inbox a poor tool for this purpose, but using your inbox in this way is one of the main reasons you continue to be overloaded with too many emails, even from companies you do business with: if you do not use a separate tool to manage your provider relationships, then understandably have no choice but to grant these companies access to your general inbox.

All of this is also true for your personal life and your personal email inbox; indeed, given how people tend to prefer to "leave work at the office," the need for this separation is probably more pronounced in your personal life.

sanebox safe

Whether Sanebox would say they agree with this or not, we must infer Sanebox's design philosophy from the tool itself, which is built with only-one-inbox-for-all-purposes in mind. True, you can use Sanebox for multiple email addresses (if you pay for it monthly), but each of those emails addresses will still lead you to a mere inbox, rather than at least one of those email addresses leading to a PRM ("provider relationship management")--that is what Hubscriber is.

So philosophically, the difference between Hubscriber and Sanebox is that we believe:

  1. Most emails come from companies.
  2. Many of these are companies you actually have a relationship with.
  3. Thus you cannot just unsubscribe to solve that portion of email overload.
  4. Nor does merely organizing those emails into folders solve the problem.
  5. So you need a tool designed specifically for managing your relationships (and emails!) with companies you do business with.

Sanebox, and other tools like it, are great for managing your email inbox. Hubscriber, on the other hand, prevents unwanted emails--and emails that fundamentally require a different kind of attention--from showing up in your inbox at all, by sending them instead to a tool designed specifically for them.

Features

Sanebox's flagship feature is a machine learning algorithm that "learns" your preferences for where certain sender's emails should land once they arrive at the door of your email inbox. (If you want a more thorough overview of Sanebox's features, then I suggest you read either Heather Weaver's Sanebox review or Mike Vardy's post about how he uses Sanebox.) It sits in your inbox and decides which folder to send a new email to when it arrives. Pretty cool.

sanebox complaint

🤷 Apparently Sanebox only targets people who receive more than 17 emails per day.

People seem to like Sanebox for getting an email inbox immediately organized within a "foldering" framework; and because Sanebox tries to do this automatically, it could actually save you a ton of time. Also, people really seem to like the "blackhole" feature, which is effectively a way to unsubscribe from a sender: you train the machine learning algorithm to send any email from a particular sender to a "blackhole" folder, and this ensures that any future email from the same sender will go directly to the blackhole; and that you do not have to actually spend time clicking two or three places to unsubscribe--or worse, update your email preferences.

What does Sanebox not do that Hubscriber does? Well, I will start by reminding you this is in some ways an apples-to-oranges comparison, since Hubscriber is a PRM designed for a specific purpose whereas Sanebox is a general-purpose foldering tool for any email inbox. That said, here are some key differences.

sanebox folders

Once Sanebox folders an email, it does not do much else for you. One exception might be the "blackhole" features that keeps you effectively unsubscribed.

In contrast, because Hubscriber is built for the specific purpose of managing the customer provider relationship, Hubscriber's machine-learning algorithm continues to do work for you even after an email is "foldered," as it were. One example regards emails that contain discount offers. Everyone loves getting a discount, but a discount email is not useful to you unless/until you are ready to buy something. So Hubscriber's machine-learning algorithm automatically detects the discount offer in an email and extracts the offer details, which you can then find automatically displayed into a calendar-like dashboard alongside all of your other active discounts, with expiration dates shown. This saves you the time required to other wise open the email, see the discount, make some note of it somewhere, and then remember to navigate back to that email when you are ready to use it.

Another Hubscriber example regards paying bills. Many people use a combination of their email inbox, their bank account's bill-pay feature, and the provider's user interface to manage and pay bills. Some people like the simplicity of setting most of their bills up on some sort of auto-pay or auto-draft; this excuses them from having to spend the time each month manually paying. The downside of this method, however, is that if the provider makes a mistake on your bill, you will not notice it before you have already paid for the mistake, which explains why many other people like to manually scrutinize each bill before paying it. The downside of this manually scrutiny is obviously the time required to do that, and the salt in the wound is that there is a perfectly capable way to automate it--if only there were a way to automatically scrutinize the bills and correct mistake before payment.

sanebox alternatives

That is another feature of Hubscriber's machine-learning algorithm: it detects when a new bill is issued, automatically scrutinizes it for you, and if a mistake is found, it automatically emails the provider asking for an explanation/correction; and when no mistakes are found it can trigger that automatic payment. Sanebox does not do things like this, because it was not built for this specific purpose: Sanebox is an email inbox tool, whereas Hubscriber is a PRM tool.

There are a number of other examples I could expound on, but I think you get the point. So instead, I will just list a few more you might find interesting. Hubscriber can also automatically:

  • Get and organize all of your account documentation with a given provider (contracts, receipts, invoices, etc.).
     
  • Prevent inadvertent auto-renewals for services you intended to cancel but either forgot to terminate or did not know you had to by a certain date.
     
  • Inform the provider's customer service when you experience any sort of service interruption or cause for complaint (so you do not have to ever contact customer service yourself).

Extra Benefits

Many people who have used Unroll.me in the past to unsubscribe from unwanted emails seem to have soured on Unroll.me's business model of giving you an unsubscribe tool "for free" in exchange for Unroll.me mining your email inbox and selling your data to advertisers (Heather Weaver, whose review is linked above, is one example). Sanebox seems to have served as a decent replacement for many of those former Unroll.me users, because Sanebox does not mine/sell your data. The catch, of course, is that you therefore have to pay Sanebox a fee to use the tool.

sanebox review

But for anyone averse to being "mined," the fact that Sanebox actually lets you pay a fee to not be mined is an extra benefit.

Aside from being a PRM rather than an mere email inbox/tool, one thing that separates Hubscriber from most emails tools is the email address itself. We believe there is no good reason to give a provider/vendor/marketer your actual work or personal email address. Why? Because the purpose of that company having your email address is either to try to get you to buy or for you to manage the relationship/account after you buy. In either case, we believe you need a tool designed specifically for that purpose, and that you especially should not be using your main personal or work email inbox for this purpose--because that is how email overload happens. So a core part of the Hubscriber PRM is your Hubscriber-issued email address, which is in effect your single email ID for all commercial communication (aka communication with companies you either buy from or might consider buying from).

In addition to the obvious separation that follows between your personal/work email address and all of your "emails from companies," and the immediate benefit of de-cluttering your main inbox by diverting all company-sent emails elsewhere, there is an important privacy and security benefit. Since large-scale data hacks starting getting press attention a few years ago--including hacks of highly sensitive data on "affairs site" Ashley Madison--have i been pwned? has detected 7,853,980,717 hacked accounts.

is sanebox worth it

Each one of those hacked accounts includes an associated email address, and how many do you suppose were actual work or personal email addresses? More than you would guess, probably. A Hubscriber-issued email address gives you a buffer against this.

Lastly, without a PRM-like separation, you will constantly be battling what psychologists call "selective attention." Like the well-known invisible gorilla experiment (screenshot below), when you are not looking for a particular thing, you are liable to overlook it when it is surrounded by other things--this describes most inboxes precisely; there are a bunch of "other things;" so if you do not have tools for separating the things into "buckets" that allow you to focus on one bucket at a time, you are more likely to miss important things.

sanebox contract

This simple Hubscriber feature--one email ID for all commercial communication--gives you a huge advantage in outsmarting selective attention, because there would be no reason to even visit the Hubscriber app but to engage with company-sent emails; likewise, company-sent emails would not longer clutter your main email inbox, so there are fewer "things" to distract you.

Verdict

If you prefer one email address for all communication, then try Sanebox. If you prefer a separate email ID and tool for all commercial communication, then try Hubscriber (click the button below).

 

The cool thing, though, is that these are not mutually exclusive preferences: you can actually use Sanebox and Hubscriber at the same time, each for its own specific purpose. And while Sanebox charges a fee, Hubscriber is totally free. So give it a shot if it sounds cool.

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