Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

Home » 2015 » July

Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tuesday Tip – It’s that time again

ID-10079666It’s almost August – which means it’s almost BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!!!

Some people that read this blog have school kids and look at this as an opportunity to start spending more time on their business. Some people reading this might go “OH DARN” that means traffic …

But most small businesses forget one really special event at this time of the year.

Girl Writing Back To School As A Symbol For Education

Girl Writing Back To School As A Symbol For Education

BACK TO SCHOOL $ALE$

That’s right, even if you don’t have kids, or your kids are well before or past the age of school, you can still take advantage of all those school supplies being on sale. There might be some back to school items you don’t need, but most “office” supplies are covered in the back to school sales. For example, mini staplers that can fit into a middle school locker can also fit in a purse or briefcase. Unless you have a locked office, I’m willing to bet that sometimes your pens wander off your desk. (Okay – even if you’re the only one that touches your desk I’m still willing to bet ballpoint pens disappear – see note below*). Every time I give a client a report or a contract, I put it in a two pocket folder. I rarely pay retail for those (they are either $0.10 or $0.15 during August). I know some consultants (I’m looking at YOU Michelle Smith at Z & B consulting) that often make use of colored markers and easel pads. Even if you don’t explore every sales flyer to find the “best” deals, you can’t walk down a school (office) supply aisle at this time of year without deals jumping off the shelf at you.

Staples Back to School Deals (moneysavingmom)

“Tips” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams has a theory that ballpoint pens slip off to their own planet and live (the ballpoint pen equivalent of) the good life. For their sake, I hope it’s true, because the ballpoints never stay on my desk.

7 Steps to Starting Your List — Part 8 – the Resources

Things found while looking for other things   

Mail Box On Notebook Shows Email Inbox And New Messages

Mail Box On Notebook Shows Email Inbox And New Messages

A review of the previous posts on this topic. Click on any of these links to read previous posts.

  1. Build your list — define your target email audience
  2. Create Freebie Offer
  3. Promoting your sign-up form
  4. Remember CAN-Spam
  5. Set up your program
  6. Create your email
  7. Test and Track

Yes, this is number 8 of a 7 part series. (Think of it this way – if I give 8 posts for a 7 part series, I might end up doing 75 minutes of work and charging for 60 – it’s been known to happen).

The main purpose of this post is so that all the resources I’ve found while doing this series are in one place. (I tend to do a great deal of research for my blog – Google is my “bestie”)

Review and Resource Link

1. Build your list — define your target email audience. We started by pointing out that (despite reports to the contrary) email is NOT dead. We had you think about who you want to be sending email to. Before you start, you need to think about your WHY — why are you sending mail, and who are you sending it to.

Balloons With Free Shows Freebies and Promotions Online

Balloons With Free Shows Freebies and Promotions Online

2. Create Freebie Offer Many people have a valuable free offer when you sign up for their email list. I listed some examples of what people I know are doing. You want to give something that showcases your products and services but you ALSO want to give something that addresses a pain point for your clients. The Hubspot article listed below had some great ideas for your free offer.

ARTICLES

3. Promoting your sign-up form There was discussion of some of the places you could put your sign up form, and a reminder that if you are collecting names for your email list (say through a drawing or speaking engagement or a sign-up sheet at a trade show) you are REQUIRED to mention that you will be adding someone to your mailing list.

ARTICLES

Computer generated 3D photo rendering.

Computer generated 3D photo rendering.

4. Remember CAN-Spam While we were reading the CAM-SPAM rules, we took a nap. (Seriously – just typing CAN-SPAM makes me want to nap). This is probably the most boring post of this series, but it’s highly important (if you don’t have a lawyer on retainer). Anti-spam laws protect us (somewhat) from unwanted emails. If you are using any of the major email services, they automatically help with compliance to CAN-SPAM in the setup (where you’re required to give a physical address) and allowing people to opt-out. You are still responsible for complying with correct header information, not using deceptive subject lines, and monitoring what others are doing on your behalf.

ARTICLES

5. Set up your program This is a part that I consider great fun. I do offer this as a separate “one off” service for clients that are not retainer clients (because I love doing this so much). I compared some of the email services (and not ONCE did I mention a preference for MailChimp – no, I mentioned a preference for MailChimp more than once). I also added my affiliate link for MailChimp just in case you want to set it up through MailChimp. I mention that it is an affiliate because, well one I am basically an honest and transparent person, but ALSO because it’s required by CAN-Spam (see step 4). There were some bullet points on template design and links to some tutorial pages. I also took a few digs at iContact, which I don’t much care for, but I’ll now state that they have had some recent changes making it slightly less annoying.

ARTICLES

OTHER

MailChimp tutorial page

Constant Contact tutorial page

6. Create your email We reviewed some high points for successful email campaigns (including short concise paragraphs, mentioning special offers, and adding personal stories). I also gave 4 examples of some newsletters I am working on or have worked on.

ARTICLES

Analytics

Analytics

7. Test and Track We reviewed what you should be measuring and what industry reports say might not match your ideal clients. Check your open rates, your click through rates, your bounce rates, and your unsubscribe rates. (As a side note, I’d like to point out that not all unsubscribes are a bad thing – some people just might not be your ideal client.)

ARTICLES

8. Finally –

Your main goal is consistent, clear, concise, customer-focused communication. 

If you’re looking for someone to help you set up and maintain an email list, or if you’re just looking for someone to coach you through one or two steps, feel free to contact me for a free 30-minute consultation session.

MeetWithMe_blue

 

Tuesday Tip – If it didn’t exist I’d invent it

ID-10079666Tuesday Tip – If it didn’t exist, I’d invent itI’m sure many people think of a speakerphone as something that makes talking on the phone while you’re driving easier. First – don’t talk on the phone and drive – it could be dangerous. Second, speakerphones were around quite some time before cell phones. (I honestly can’t recall when I first encountered a speakerphone. I know it was long before cell phones were around.)

Telephone

Telephone

Some people think the magic of the speakerphone is so you can hear someone when you’re driving without holding the phone to your ear (I said it before — don’t do that), and some people think that it’s great because multiple people in the same room can listen to one phone call (perhaps when the mom calls grandma and all the kids can listen in).

The TRUE magic of the speakerphone is multi-tasking. You can do quite a bit while your listening to hold music.

Many years ago I was in the tax business. If you’ve ever tried to call the IRS during tax season, you know that you can spend quite a bit of time on hold (and I’m willing to bet they haven’t changed the hold music since 2008). It’s really not very exciting to sit on hold. However, with the magic of the speakerphone, you can listen to the hold music and have two hands free to clean off a desk or reorganize a file drawer or sort receipts or anything that keeps one hand close to free to grab the phone when the other person picks up.

(Just don’t inadvertently have the phone on mute — long story – not a happy ending)  smiley-emoticons-face-vector-upset-expression_7JIta-

“Tips” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday Tip – New Gmail Features

Tuesday Tip – New Gmail features

Anyone that follows this blog knows that I’m a Google Girl – if Google has made it, at some point in time I’ve used it. While it can be difficult to keep track, I try to keep up with what’s new in Gmail, so naturally my GGG (Google Geek Girl) got all excited when I ran across the first article listed in Related Articles below.  The new things discussed (and you can read the article for details) include:
  • Emojis (cute – but not necessary)
  • No More Attachment Limits (well – it’s a Google Drive integration)
  • Pinterest in your Inbox (which I haven’t played with yet – but it sounds like it would be great for visual people)
  • New Google Contacts (which MERGES contacts so you can have ALL of someone’s information in ONE file – instead of duplicates – I’ve used it to clean my contact list)
  • Revert to Old Chat (instead of Hangout — YAY – sometimes I’m just not up for visual conversation)
    And last (on my list, not theirs) but NOT least,
  • UNDO SENT EMAILS a 30-second window in which to recall an email. (Not that I’ve EVER noticed a tyop two laet)

  Related articles:

7 Steps to Starting Your List — Part 7 – the penultimate

Test and Track    

ID-10050644Yes – I know the title says “penultimate” and penultimate means “last but one in a series.” I plan to follow up in the next post with a complete list of resources so even though this is #7 of 7, it’s still the penultimate.

We’ve come an incredibly long way – from defining your target audience to remembering not to Spam people to actually writing email. Testing and tracking is an important last step because you need to see how things are working.

What should you be measuring?

  • Open rates (the % of subscribers that open an email)
  • Click through rates (the % of subscribers that click through to a webpage)
  • Conversion rates (% of unique visitors that convert to a desired action – sale, membership, event registration)
  • Bounce rates (% of undelivered emails)
  • Unsubscribe rates (% of users that apt out).

One way of testing is to do an A/B split test where you send different segments of your list almost the same email with slight differences (perhaps a subject heating, or perhaps a day or week or time of day sent) to see which produces more open rates (this is detailed below in the “Related articles” section.)

While I can’t give exact statistics and industry averages on the following, I’ve noticed two things from personal observation:

  • From lists I’ve managed, I’ve noticed that the more consistently email is sent, the better the open rates.
  • INDIVIDUAL lists do not necessarily follow industry averages.

So even if some industry rag says to send messages at a “best time,” this might not necessarily hold true on your specific list.

Test – test subject headings, test different send times – or not, but REMEMBER

Consistent, clear, and customer focused communication is always a good option. 

Related articles

Finally, a review of the previous posts on this topic.

  1. Build your list — define your target email audience.
  2. Create Freebie Offer
  3. Promoting your sign-up form
  4. Remember CAN-Spam
  5. Set up your program
  6. Create your email
  7. Test and Track
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net