Email Marketing Basics: Don’t Use Your PC to Send Email “Blasts”

You may have heard me speak or write about how email advertising still reigns in terms of return on investment (ROI), and you wanted to try making some money from your list of contacts. Please, don’t make the error of using your PC to send your email marketing messages! Same goes for using any web mail service, such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or MSN.

PC programs such as Outlook, Eudora, Apple Mail or online email services may be free to use, but they were not designed to send bulk email messages such as newsletters and e-flyers.

Most Internet Service Providers (ISP), and most online email services limit the number of recipients that you can use in any single email message. This means that, depending on the size of your list, it may take you several sends to complete the “blast”.

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 work in Canada, the US, or any country that has a modern “anti-spam” law, the easiest way to play by the rules of opt in email marketing is to use an Email Service Provider (ESP). All these companies do all day is send permission based email marketing messages on behalf of their clients.

Mad Mimi Email MarketingI highly recommend one such service: MadMimi. You can even use their service for free for as long as you have fewer than 100 email contacts. MadMimi’s email marketing software is an online service you pay for monthly based on the size of your list. For example, if you have 1,000 contacts your monthly cost will be only US$10. Their pricing is typically 20%-50% lower than their competition (such as iContact, Aweber, or GetResponse). Admittedly, these other services offer more features, but have a higher learning curve, or cost more, or both.

I’ve used about a dozen or so ESPs over the years, but have been recommending MadMimi for their superior customer service and extreme ease of use. If you’re able to use a computer so send regular emails, you’ll be up and running with MadMimi in minutes.

To learn more about email marketing best practises visit my Email Marketing Blog.

Posted in: Email Marketing

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Blog Search Engine Optimization: How to Do Keyword Research to Get the Most Google Juice

When publishing articles on your business blog (or any web site) your task doesn’t end with writing your blog post, you should also concentrate on optimizing it for search engines.

Actually, to get the benefit of search engine traffic, even before starting a blog post, do some keyword research. First, compile a list of keywords (and, more importantly, keyword phrases) you think your business should rank for. Then, use the free Google Keyword tool and type in those phrases to find out how many actual searches are done per month. You would be surprised how different Google’s list may turn out from your own. Use the list Google suggest as your starting point.

You want to find keyword phrases with low competition and high search volume.

If your site or blog is promoting a business with a local focus, such as a beauty salon, or carpet cleaning, pay attention to the local search volume, rather than global.

Then, when you’ve decided on the overall keyword phrases for your site (or home page), use the same Google Keyword tool to generate ideas for sub page titles, post headlines and subheads.

Specifically, pay attention to and hand craft the following three meta tags:

  • Meta title: This may be different, or a variation of the post title, and ideally not longer than 60-70 characters. If your post title is longer than 70 characters, made sure you condense it to less than that for the title meta tag.
  • Meta description: If you’re using an SEO plugin for your WordPress-based blog, it will most likely be able to generate a description tag for you, but I advise against it. Instead, you should write your own description, ideally not more than 150 characters long, and making sure you use at least one keyword phrase as suggested by the Google Keyword tool. If you can also include a call to action, such as “Visit my site for more,” that would be great. Think of the description as the summary of your blog post, or page.
  • 1-5 meta keyword phrases: As per this video, Google ignores meta keywords, but some search engines still read them, so it won’t hurt to add them. Add only those keywords that are actually used on the page. Resist the temptation of “keyword stuffing” as some search engines may punish your page for it.

My clients get the benefit of one-on-one instruction in the art of Search Engine Optimization. If your web site is not producing results for you, please book a complimentary meeting or toll-free call so we can find out if I would be a good fit to help you get more out of your online presence. If you’re on a limited budget, you can learn from my live workshops or self-study courses.

Posted in: Blogging, Search Engine Optimisation, WordPress

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How to Use Linkedin to Get More Clients

Linkedin Tip: How to Use Linkedin to Get More ClientsLinkedin is one of the most important online networking sites for professionals, with 175* million members worldwide. If you’re not a member yet, please check out my Linkedin profile and join today.

I’ve been actively using this networking site for just over two years now. Today I can safely say that my business would be significantly different without it, as I use Linkedin to generate about 20% of my business income. About half of that is comes from existing clients, and the other half represents new business coming from new clients.

Although Linkedin can be used for job search, or simply to join alumni networks and groups, I will share some of my tips and strategies on how to use Linkedin to boost your business, especially if you’re a self-employed service professional.

Part of my business here at the iBizAcademy is teaching and coaching and as many who have attended my live workshops and seminars testify, I teach social networking in plain English, so that even technophobes can apply the new skills immediately.

How To Use Linkedin Polls to Help You Make Better Business Decisions

There are many ways to use Linkedin to grow your client base, but today I will focus on one, lesser-known “application” called Linkedin Polls.

As I always do in my workshops, I will use a real-life example of how I used Linkedin Polls to leverage the collective wisdom and experience business professionals to help me make my own business decisions.

When I started hosting my live training seminars, I thought that weekdays would probably work best, and I picked the 10am-1pm time slot. I figured by 10am people can finish their morning chores, such as driving kids to school, and be ready for business. However, when I started promoting my seminars, occasionally I’d get a reply from someone who is interested in attending but the time didn’t work for them, so they asked if I did any evening classes.

linkedin pollWell, this got me thinking that perhaps my own preferences may not be the same as other peoples’. So how can you figure out what other people think? Ask them! I used the Linkedin Poll application and asked them one simple question: If you have 3 hours to invest in a training seminar to help you boost your business, WHEN would you be most likely to attend? I then sent the link to this poll to my connections and received 58 responses (20% of my connections responded). I was relieved to learn that 48% of respondents did in fact prefer the weekday 10am-1pm time!

So next time you need to make a business decision tap into the collective wisdom of Linkedin members.

To learn more about how to use Linkedin to get more clients subscribe to my blog, or join me at the next Linkedin to the Max! workshop.

*As of Aug. 2012

Posted in: Linkedin, Social Media Marketing

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Content Ideas for Your Small Business Blog

content ideasWhen I teach my clients how to come up with content ideas for their small business blogs I always emphasize: Your business blog should be mainly about your business, but you can also publish an occasional post unrelated to your business.

Writing about your area of expertise should come easy and naturally because you’re writing about stuff you know lots about. Even so, you can get stuck for ideas so I suggest you write article ideas down as soon as you come up with them. Use Post-it notes, napkins or open a Word document, whatever works for you.

One thing you should always remember: write as if you’re telling a story to a friend, so use a casual tone, without big words, as a matter of fact, try to throw in non-business words like “stuff” and “cool.” You’re not writing your blog to impress your peers, but to establish yourself as a likable person who is also an expert in the field of (insert your expertise here).

The trick in making a small business blog successful is writing about your field of expertise but adding your own personal touch to the stories. I emphasize the word stories as compared to articles or blog posts.

Telling stories about your clients’ problems and how you solve them will not only bring out the you in your writing but will also make it easier for you to come up with content. Simply listen to your clients’ needs, problems, complaints, etc. and you’ll have an unlimited source of content ideas.

People love to relate to stories. If you can find a way to package your knowledge into interesting stories you will have no trouble getting your audience to get to know, like and trust you. And what better way to start a client-provider relationship!

photo credit: Unsplash via photopin license

Posted in: Blogging, Content Marketing

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Why You Really Need to Know All Your Friends on Facebook

I’m writing this post from a veranda with a great view of the north-west Adriatic coast of Croatia, where I’m currently on vacation. This trip is different from our previous vacations in that we’re staying a full 5 weeks, so I needed to bring my laptop to stay in touch with my clients (after I finish this post I need to send an email newsletter for a UK-based client).

Although I did a pretty good job of making sure I have all my passwords with me, I was given a shock by Facebook when I tried logging in for the first time after we landed here. Although I entered my user ID and password Facebook recognised I was trying to log in from a different geographical location and, as a security measure, forced me to confirm my account. At first I thought, great, I like this, but then the trouble started: Facebook used a very unusual method of confirming my account – it asked me to give the names of seven of my Facebook friends! Although I only have a few hundred FB friends, I certainly can’t remember all of their names!

Facebook showed me pictures of no fewer than seven of my friends – but not their default profile photos, but random images from their photo albums, where my friends were sometimes pictured from the side, with other people, or in poor image conditions.

Somehow I managed to confirm my account after two tries, so now I am OK. The moral of this story for you: know thy Facebook friends if you’re planning on traveling abroad.

Posted in: Facebook, Social Media Marketing

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