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Mary Wu, Social Media Consultant

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How to clean up your inbox

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

Mailboxes On Monitors Showing Emails Inbox And Online Communication

An email in box seems innocent enough. It’s just bits and bytes in a digital format that you look at a few times a day to see if anything important has popped up.

  • BUT — did you ever open your inbox and realize that you haven’t really cleaned it in a while (like years)?
  • Did you ever open your inbox and realize you have no clue how to prioritize, not the 50 new messages you’ve received today, but the 50 new messages you’ve received today plus the 50 new you’ve received each day for the last 50 days?

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how to muddle through way too many messages.

One idea (developed by Merlin Mann) that has taken hold over the past few years is Inbox Zero:

This is probably a great goal to aspire to, but realistically speaking, there are people I know (heck I’m one of them) that might give up on something if it seems unattainable. So I’ve always been about actually DOING 85% instead of procrastinating if I think 100% is too difficult or time consuming.
evie quote
With that in mind, what are some TIPS for attaining Inbox Manageable:
  • Limit the time you spend reading email. Check email a few times a day (for longer periods of time) instead of many times a day. Perhaps pick 3 or 4 times a day you’ll just muddle through your mail instead of checking every 5 minutes. (Though I’ll admit to doing that at times – perhaps if a friend has run off to the hospital because a new grand-baby is about to appear).
  • Turn off notifications. Even if you don’t instantly jump to check what’s happening when you hear a “ding” or a “buzz,” you are still slightly distracted by it.
  • Your Inbox is NOT your To-Do list. You can make a separate folder for ToDo – or “Items Needing Action,” but don’t keep these “front and center”
  • Touch it once. Many organizational gurus suggest “touching it once” for paper that comes into your home (file it or toss it or act on it). The same works for electronic communication. Look at it and decide where it needs to go. If it’s something that needs to go on your schedule, put it on your calendar and delete the email.
  • User folders. Using filters you can create folders, and send mail from certain parties directly to a folder. In Gmail (and I assume in other email applications), if you have a folder with something “new” in it, you can look at it when you have the time.
  • Don’t use folders. One suggestion I’ve run across is to only use “inbox,” “trash,” “draft,” “sent,” and “archive.” With current search engines, you’re often able to find a message if you can use the proper search parameters.
    (Yes – I know that’s the exact opposite of what I said above – but your mileage may vary on any of these points, so take what works and leave the rest).
  • Make subject lines clear. This helps if you’re looking for something later, because it makes things easier to identify.
  • PICK UP THE PHONE. Sometimes you can be more productive by spending a few minutes talking to someone than going back and forth by email.
  • Print – or print to PDF. For myself, for information I need to retain from clients, I will “print” an email to PDF, and save the email in my client folder. Sometimes that’s the best place for me to find it.
  • Kill ’em while you’re killing time. Two years ago Gmail rolled out the tabs. (I wrote this at the time about the Gmail changes). I love the “new” (is it “new” if it’s two years old?) Gmail tabs, but sometimes I ignore things in my tabs. Sometimes you really need to go through and remove things, but this is great use for down time, for instance while you’re in the cell phone lot at the airport or while you’re waiting in line at the DMV.
Gain control of your email and don’t let other people prioritize your day.

Tuesday Tip – What small business owners SHOULD do

ID-10079666Tuesday Tip – if you are a small business owner, you SHOULD be doing this!

Backstory – for a few years I was a La Leche League leader. During training it was oft repeated that we needed to meet people where they were and help them as was best for them (meaning, no matter how much you wanted to tell someone “THE ONE RIGHT WAY” to do something, you needed to remember that there really isn’t one right way for most things).

I try to continue to live that (and I hope I do) but DANG it – sometimes there ISone right way” to do something.

  • Did you know that there are 1.44 *BILLION* (that’s billion with a B people) on Facebook?
  • Did you know that on averagem Smartphone users check Facebook about times per day?
  • Did you know there’s an incredibly EASY way for you to have your friends find your business page?

 

Untitled

First, you need to have a Facebook business page. Once you have that, you can go into your personal Facebook profile and edit it so that your business page can be easily accessed from your personal page.

After that, all your “real-life” friends can actually FIND your Facebook business page.

SOCIAL TIP: One consultant I know didn’t do this UNTIL after she had a strong Facebook publishing plan and a month’s worth of posts. Then she invited not only her clients and prospects to “like” her page, she also invited her family and friends to “like” her page. Now, in addition to getting referrals from her business associates, she also gets referrals from her college classmates, neighbors, and former coworkers.

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

Tuesday Tip – Facebook Group Posting

fbiconFor some people, Facebook Group posting is somewhat fun and distracting. For other people, Facebook Group posting is essential to their business. Some businesses take advantage of Facebook Groups to keep in touch with their “tribe,” be it a networking group or a group of their ideal clients.

I’m seeing more people re-purposing content from their Facebook (personal) Profile or their Facebook (business) Page and using this content in groups they belong to. Generally speaking, re-purposing content is a good thing, and I’m all for using something multiple times in multiple places.  When you share content from your Facebook (business) Page, it’s easy to share, is public, and has the added benefit of possibly driving people back to your Facebook (business) Page to see what else is there.

There’s a bit of a different twist, however, if you’re on your Facebook (personal) Profile page and want to share something to one of the groups you belong to. As you go to share the item, you may notice the following message.

ShareStatus

“You chose a specific audience for this post. Only people in that audience will be able to see this when you share it.”

If you continue on with this posting — your audience (possibly made up of potential clients) will see …

attachmentUnavailable

“Attachment Unavailable
This attachment may have been removed or the person who shared it may not have permission to share it with you.” 

This same issue can happen if you’re trying to share content from one group to another group. If a group is NOT a “public” group, and if you try to share information outside of the group, the share will be visible to anyone that belongs to the group, but it will not be able to be seen by someone that’s not in the group. So if you’re in a private coaching group and your coach has a spectacular program she’s mentioned that you’d like to share outside the group – it needs to be FIRST posted in a public place.

If you’re trying to share an event or a special or a meme or a photo with a Facebook group, make sure what you’re trying to share is public, otherwise things will get really boring, really quickly and all your audience will see is a rather dull box.

Struggling with social media?  

Click here to arrange a social media consult. 

*There are details in the Facebook Terms of Use that are incredibly boring but very significant to people that are using Facebook profiles for business use. That will likely be covered in a future blog post.

OOOPS They Did it Again

 

 

 

 

And then THIS happened. 
mariSmith

 

Say WHAT??? Another major overhaul coming to Facebook Pages. Didn’t they just do that a few months ago??

And people who manage their own Facebook business pages went

Stress Meter Showing  Panic Attack From Stress And Worry

Stress Meter Showing Panic Attack From Stress And Worry

 

And then they went Stress. Woman stressed

And the people who have a social media manager went

Lovely shopping girl talking on the phone in mall

“call me if I need to know anything.”

And the Social Media Managers went

Student Reading Book Showing Research And Studying

And then called their clients and said

"RELAX - I got this!"

“RELAX – I got this” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moral of the story — if you’re using Facebook for business – and you panic every time they make a change, RELAX and find someone who can always have your back in the social media world.

 

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

Tuesday Tip – Soft Landings

IMG_2099aTuesday Tip – Soft Landings

I’ve just returned from the vacation of a lifetime, courtesy of my mother-in-law. Spending time with family and being completely off the grid is great, but coming back to the “work a day” world is challenging.
In the weeks of planning for my time off, I knew that I needed to fiercely protect the first few days back. The first thing I did was to make sure I had nothing on the burner the first few days back. The third day back I had a (previously scheduled) doctor’s appointment and two short phone meetings. There’s email to get to and phone calls to return and other things that pop up while your gone.
But one of the things I did before I left was to make sure that everything was set, not only for the days that I was gone, but for the days after I returned. For my social media clients this means not only scheduling posts during my week off, but also scheduling posts for the following week. For my newsletter clients this meant letting them know I would need all information for newsletters by 3 days before I left (which they understand – we all need time away).
As for myself … do you see that lovely photo up in the corner. That was taken during a vacation a few years ago – because I knew I would want to have the Tuesday Tip out on time and that I wouldn’t have had time to download and sort all my photos before posting.
So, this post was actually written two weeks ago – with a note to myself to update the post if I feel the need (and have the time) to correct everything.
I hope you can find some time to get off the grid.