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Small Business Marketing

1
Jun

Programs such as Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird or online email services such as Yahoo, or Hotmail are not to be used. They may be free to use, but will not give you all the options you might like to have, and besides, may also be unlawful, depending on your country’s anti-spam laws, if any.

Most Internet Service Providers, and most online email services limit the number of recipients that you can use in any single email message. Usually that number is around 20, or so, and it varies widely from ISP to ISP. This means that, depending on the size of your list, it may take you several sends to complete the “blast”. Although this may be acceptable if you have a list of 50 or so people, anything beyond that will be impractical.

If you’re using your own email program to send your e-newsletter you don’t, for the most part, have no idea what happens to your beautiful creation once it leaves your computer. You don’t really know if your audience receives your messages, if they open them, if they click on any links that are included in the content, etc.

If you’re really strapped for cash, and have a small list I can recommend this new Email Service Provider called MadMimi. Their service is free for lists under 100 subscribers.

Last word on using your own email program: if you have to use it, please, remember to use the BCC: field for your recipients. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy, and it simply means your recipients will not see each other’s names and email addresses.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email Design | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Blog
30
May

 

WordPress for Dummies

The word “blog” itself comes from “web log”, so “blog” for short. Ever since Google acquired Blogger in 2003, this medium has been on the rise. Today even companies such as General Motors run blogs. Here are five reasons why you should have a blog for your small business or professional practice:

  • Blogging builds credibility. As you get more and more into writing about your experiences on a particular topic, your readers come to realize that they can depend on your posts to provide useful information. This will establish you as an expert; as a consequence, more readers visit your site and more bloggers link to your blogs.
  • Business_Guide-to-BloggingSearch engines love blogs. Because blog pages change very frequently, are content-rich, and easy to index, search engines just love to gobble them up. For example, if you noticed that your web site search engine rankings are slipping, this is most likely because the contents of your web site hasn’t changed in a long while. Search engines love fresh, new content, and by its nature, blogs are the epitome of freshness. To make the most of this, host your blog on your own domain, and use WordPress, or a similar blog system to run it.
  • Blogging is simple. The simplest way to get a presence on the web is through blogging. If you can type and click a mouse, you can blog. It’s like having a virtual piece of paper and you just write your ideas, experiences, describe new products, and hope that the truth behind your articles comes out and entice your reader to also try your product. No knowledge of HTML is necessary, but will certainly come in handy to get some of the more advanced features set up.
  • Blogging is authentic. In this day and age where advertising saturates our lives, we question the credibility of promoters’ claims. However, in blogs, real people share their real-life experiences, untainted by paid advertising. Reading blogs about first-hand product use is like talking to people about their first-hand experience.
  • Blogging costs nothing. You don’t need to have any software, buy web hosting, register a domain, like you do for your web site. Any opportunity get something for free is definitely a bonus, especially to businesses that are starting up. You can start blogging for free at WordPress.com, although, to get the most benefit from your blog I recommend hosting your own WordPress-based blog.
Category : Blogging for Business | Boris Recommends | Driving Traffic to Your site | Email List Building | On Line Networking | Search Engine Optimization | SEO for Article Writing | Small Business Marketing | Web Site Development | Blog
28
May

WordPress for DummiesDo you have a blog? A few days ago I started playing with WordPress for my blog. For weeks I’ve been trying to figure out which technology would be best, and have settled on WordPress for two main reasons:

  1. It allows me to create “static” pages, so I can have a site that looks like a regular web site, with menus such as “About,” “Products,” “Services,” and so on, and at the same time have a blog going.
    and,
  2. Second, I prefer to install the WP software on my own server, rather than use the hosted version of WP (i.e. WordPress.com) or other software, such as Blogger or TypePad, because it’s better for Search Engine Optimization. All the pages are sitting on my server/domain and are being indexed here, not at some blog hosting company.

Once word of advice, from my own experience: If you’re looking to save a few bucks and opt for a free blog, I wouldn’t recommend Blogger. Although it’s a good platform and all that, and being owned by Google can’t hurt these days, what I don’t like about it is the feature they have at the top of each blog, which is a link to “Next blog”: a few times I tried clicking it I ended up on blogs that I wouldn’t want my kids to see, if you know what I mean.

If you have a web site, consider re-doing it using WordPress, then you can enjoy the best of both worlds – and Google and other search engines will just love it so much more!

 

Category : Blogging for Business | Boris Recommends | Driving Traffic to Your site | Email List Building | Search Engine Optimization | Small Business Marketing | Web Site Development | Blog
2
Apr

Some years ago personal development guru Mark Victor Hansen said “Your net-work determines your net-worth.” You’ve probably also heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and that’s actually better said “it’s who knows you.”

In the previous issue of Contacts2Clients, I mentioned some online networking sites and how to use them to build your business. It sparked a number of inquires from subscribers of this newsletter, but also from clients and colleagues.

Although I created my LinkedIn profile years ago, I’ve never actually used it until recently. Within about a month my network is now over 1.5 million strong – yes, that’s six figures, baby. And all that from only 60 or so connections.

Mind you, the point is not to have a large number of contacts, but to participate. Be active. If you just put up a profile, but never participate, it’s like having a blog to which you never post.

Some people say you should be active on 25 different networks. I don’t think that’s realistic, unless you delegate the work to a virtual assistant, but you should pick at least 3 that you will visit fairly regularly and make an effort to participate.
View Boris Mahovac's profile on LinkedIn

Category : Business Networking | Driving Traffic to Your site | On Line Networking | Small Business Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Web Site Development | Blog
18
Dec

I get this kind of question a lot, and also see it posted on online forums hosted by various ESPs. The questions is: “Should I resend an email (ezine, offer, solo mailing) to my whole list or only to those that have not opened (or responded to) the original send?” Immediately following this question is: “How do I do that?”

I will leave the “Why?” for you to answer, because it will be different to different people. If you send your ezine once a week, then I’d say “Probably no”, but if you send it once a month, I’d advise you to resend perhaps 2 weeks after the original send.

With special offers and solo mailings, it will be different, too. These types of emails are more aggressive in nature, so you may want to consider resending these more often than you would a regular ezine.

In this short article I am going to give you the “How”: specific instructions on how to create a temporary list of subscribers who haven’t opened an email. This technique will work with any Email Service Provider system that shows you exactly which email addresses were registered as “opens”, but I will use Constant Contact as an example. If you’d like instructions on how to do this in 1ShoppingCart, email me.

This technique works in general, when you want to re-send an email campaign to a list, but exclude those subscribers who have previously opened or clicked on a link.

  • Create a duplicate of your existing list, name it “Resend xyz” where “xyz” stands for the name of your email that you’d like to resend, e.g. “Resend C2C.v2.14” would stand for “Contacts2Clients Volume 2. Issue 14.”
    If you have several lists, create the new one by merging your list. This list will now contain addresses of all your subscribers to whom you sent the original email.
  • In Constant Contact, go to Emails > Reports, then click on the number of “opens” for your original send. This will display a list of subscribers. At the bottom of the list click the button that reads “Save as List.” Name your new list “Opened xyz.”
  • go to Contacts > Export. In the Contact List drop down menu select “Opened xyz” list, then export it in either CSV or TXT format, it doesn’t matter. This will create a file called export.csv in your download folder on your computer (most likely on your desktop)
  • Locate this file on your PC and rename it “Opened xyz.csv”
  • Back to Constant Contact. Remove the subscribers who have already opened your email campaign by selecting the “Resend xyz” list and then upload the file “Opened xyz.csv” from your PC (follow this click-path Contacts > Manage Contacts > Remove)

This way your new, temporary list “Resend xyz” will contain only those subscribers who have not previously opened your original email campaign.

Use this list to resend your email campaign, then delete it. If you intend to resend several times, then rename the “Resend xyz” list as “opened” and remove the “new” openers from it. Each time you do it, the list will get smaller and smaller.

Things to Keep in Mind When Resending Your Emails

  • How often do you normally send your emails?
  • Are your subscribers used to seeing resends in their in boxes?
  • Are you going to antagonize some subscribers who didn’t open your email in the first place, because the subject line wasn’t enticing enough?
  • Should you also change the subject line?

You see, there are so many variables, and things to consider, and we’re out of time and space, as I am trying to keep this last issue of 2007 a short one.

Bonus TIP:
Before doing any “open heart surgery” on your lists, save a backup copy of your active subscribers to your computer.

Copyright 2007 by Boris Mahovac – Your Ezine Coach

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Tracking and Split Testing | Tracking Email Opens | Blog
9
Dec

If you’ve been around the Internet marketing arena for a while you must have seen these a lot. Almost every web site you visit offers some kind of freebie to entice you to sign up. Most marketers offer this incentive in a form of a special report (such as my The 4 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in Marketing).

These special reports are usually delivered to the subscriber on-line, as a download from the so-called “thank-you” page (the page that opens once your subscriber confirms his/her address, if you have double opt-in set up). Most special reports are in PDF format, but some people have audio, or even video presentations of this content.

Alternatively, you could set up your free report in a form of a series of emails, effectively creating an e-course. Essentially, you would take your report and break it up into discrete chapters, or articles. Then what you do is set up an auto-responder to deliver those messages spread out over a number of days, depending on the content and the type of prospects you’re attracting.

If you’re teaching them a new skill, you may decide to send emails daily. If the advice is a more in-depth analysis or a white paper, spread the emails by a couple of days, and give your prospects time to take the new information in and process it.

Make sure the last message in the auto-responder sequence contains a version of your sales letter, or some other appropriate call to action. You may ask the subscriber to purchase a product, call you for an appointment, sign up for your tele-seminar, or whatever your choice might be.

I would also include some sort of “About Me” blurb, plus a mini call to action at the bottom of every email in the series as well, just in case a prospect decides he or she is ready to take it to the next level and hire you.

Toolbox

Please refer to my resource page to find about which Email Service Providers provide auto-responders, as not all of them do, unfortunately.

Category : Driving Traffic to Your site | E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Building | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Blog
4
Dec

The best way to promote certain types of products and services is not by publishing articles that are related to your offering. Articles are a staple content for email newsletters, or ezines, but for some products, it’s much more effective to send your prospects and clients pure promotional content by email.

For example, one of my clients runs a well-established beauty salon, with a large customer base. She stays in touch with them on a regular basis – several times a week – by sending special promotions and coupons.

One of the things they do is “last-minute” bookings for certain services, so for example, if she finds that her Sea Salt Body Glow has no bookings for the next day, she will offer it to her email subscribers on a first-come first-serve basis at 40% off regular price.

Linda calls her email service the Lotus Time Club and calls her subscribers “members.” If you want to follow this technique, you may also want to consider using similar words to make your subscribers feel special, such as : exclusive, inner circle, limited, VIP, club, etc.

The frequency of your mailings will largely depend on the type of product and/or service that you offer, but you should test to see what your members prefer.

Toolbox

Please refer to my resource page to find about which Email Service Providers provide auto-responders, as not all of them do, unfortunately.

Category : Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Blog
20
Nov

If you ever considered publishing and e-newsletter but hear yourself saying: “Ezines sound like a great way to stay in touch with clients and prospects, but I just don’t have the time. Is there an easier way to accomplish the same thing without committing to a regular publishing schedule?” consider this alternative: the evergreen ezine.

Some people call it the “canned ezine”, because it’s pre-written, and has an extended “shelf life”. There are two sub-categories here: an evergreen ezine that is fresh any time of the year, and a seasonal ezine.

Let’s say you want to stay in touch with your prospects every other week, and you want to keep them on the list for up to a year, after which time you would write them off as not interested and remove them from your list, or keep them on the list, and restart the sequence. This would require that you write 26 issues in advance (26 issues x 2 weeks = 52 weeks, or one year).

Once you have 26 issues ready, you have two options: you can either set them up as a series of issues to be sent on specific dates, or you can set them up as an auto-responder sequence. Most Email Service Providers provide an option of setting up your ezines to be published at any future date, but to set up an auto-responder you will need to sign up with an ESP such as AweberGetResponse or 1ShoppingCart.

Example 1 – Mortgage Broker
You could easily write a series of 26 articles that deal with your area of expertise. Simply make sure they are not time sensitive and you could set them up as an auto-responder sequence.

Then, as your prospects sign up on your web site, they will each start receiving the articles in a pre-set sequence: the 1st issue is sent on the day they sign up, the second 14 days later, the third 28 days later, and so on. The sequence is individually managed by the auto-responder, so it would be totally hands-free for you – once you set it up, you can forget about it and concentrate on other things.

Example 2 – Real Estate Agent
Your newsletter can be canned, but seasonal. In real estate there are certain seasonal patterns and trends that are easily recognizable, and you could write articles to accommodate those trends. For example, there are certain things homeowners should be doing in January, but different things in July. If you publish semi-monthly, you could create one issue geared towards sellers, and the second one for buyers, as each group has a different focus.

Bonus tip: in situations such as with our realtor, you may think you would separate the buyers and sellers (or cat-lovers and dog-lovers, or any other seemingly incompatible group) into two separate lists, and send them different ezines, but I would recommend that you consider sending all of them the same content – you never know when a “buyer” might forward a “seller issue” to a friend or family member who is thinking of selling.

Toolbox

Please refer to my resource page to find about which Email Service Providers provide auto-responders, as not all of them do, unfortunately.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Blog
6
Nov

Using email for your marketing purposes is very powerful, easy and (almost) free, and is still the most effective way to reach your customers/clients. However, sometimes it pays off to go off-line and use traditional methods for generating leads or new business.

Depending on how clean and fresh your lists are, you may be experiencing 80%-98% deliverability rates for your emails. But you must agree that nothing beats the deliverability of the good old post office!

What if you could combine the strengths of an online, automated system, which works very much like an Email Publishing System with the

  • deliverability of snail mail, and
  • benefits of sending your prospects and customers a tangible item?

Would you be interested in trying this almost perfect business-generating system?

About a year a go I discovered Send Out Cards, an online on-demand printing and delivery system that works very much like sending personalized email, only it prints,personalizes and mails real postcards and greeting cards in any quantity. You can send a dozen custom postcards for about 10 bucks including postage. When you send a greeting card in an envelope, you can even insert gifts such as Starbucks or Home Depot gift cards!

You can use this system to send automated, but personalized postcards and greeting cards. You can choose between thousands of great stock designs – humorous, retro, playful, business-like, your choice – or you can easily create your own designs as simply as uploading a digital photo and adding a voice bubble or a caption.

Recently, I used Send Out Cards to generate some leads for my Ezine Coaching Program. If you’ve ever used direct mail (DM), or at least read about it, you know that a decent DM campaign results in about 1% response rate, while 2% is considered exceptional. Well, my postcards generated close to 10% response rate!

I used Send Out Cards to set up a custom designed postcard (ah, the benefits of having an in-house graphic designer – me 🙂 On the back of the card I have a simple marketing message, basically asking the prospect a few thought-provoking questions with a call to action to find the answers to those questions on my web site, with an offer to receive a free CD and printed report.

All of the copy on the back of the postcard is printed on-the-fly, personalized with the recipient’s name, and all of that using my own handwriting! Of course, I didn’t spend hours manually writing those postcards, I had my handwriting digitized so that my postcards appear to be hand-written.

For this particular postcard campaign I set up a special web site, with three different versions of the landing page. Why different versions of the landing page? Because I am split-testing them to see which one converts better – in other words, which page generates more subscribers.

Again, I am using my trusted Shopping Cart to manage and track the split-testing. This is so powerful, I am amazed every time I log in to my account – especially when I remember how we used to do it, many years ago with every DM piece having a little “ad code” and processing those responses in a spreadsheet! Wow. This is so much easier today.

To be able to track your off-line campaigns I recommend that you set up a special URL, e.g. www.yoursite.com/postcard, or even better, a unique web site. If you’re testing different postcards, have each card link to a different URL.

Using Send Out Cards is a great way to generate leads and especially repeat business from existing clients. However, one more great way to use Send Out Cards is to test different cards on a small sample of prospects (you can test the design, headline, copy, etc.) to see which one to use en masse, if you’re planning to ultimately send a large-scale mailing (1,000 or more cards).

Once you’ve nailed a winning card, then use a commercial printer to print your cards and a mail shop for personalization/sorting/mailing.

Extra tip: when mailing your own envelopes, try to use something to differentiate your envelope from the competition by using either an interesting sticker or enclose an object into your envelope. Anything that will make the recipient want to open it!

Category : Boris Recommends | Driving Traffic to Your site | Email List Building | Off Line Marketing Strategies | Small Business Marketing | Tracking and Split Testing | Blog
27
Oct

Finally, once you have your products or services you’d like others to promote, and you have a system in place to track visitors, sales and affiliate commissions, you’re now ready to start promoting your affiliate program.

A good place to start is a list of your own clients or customers. If your clients promote your stuff, their credibility is going to be very high, since they’ve purchased from you, so they can talk from first-hand experience. You may even consider running a closed-door affiliate program by only allowing your clients/customers to be a part of it. A good example of such closed programs is Audio Acrobat (for recording and hosting audio and video online) and SendOutCards (to send automated postcards and greeting cards – the real ones, with a stamp and all).

Obviously, you’ll want to have your affiliate program featured on your web site and in your ezine for example.

In case you’re looking for products & services related to email marketing, you may want to join my own affiliate program, it pays up to 50% commission on products and 10% on services.

Promoting your affiliate program is like building a list: you can use the same tactics and strategies. Try visiting and contributing to online forums and blogs where your potential affiliate partners hang out. Write articles. Run a pay-per-click campaign. Contact people of influence you think may be interested in promoting your stuff. To get on their good books, buy their product or attend their seminars, then contact them by phone or send them an evaluation copy of your product by post.

Once you’ve recruited a bunch of interested affiliates, who have access to lists of thousands of people you may find that you don’t need to promote your affiliate program that much anymore as your affiliate partners may be just the ticket for your business’ success!

Category : Affiliate Marketing | Driving Traffic to Your site | Joint Ventures and Pertnerships | Off Line Marketing Strategies | SEO for Affiliate Marketing | Small Business Marketing | Blog