Archive | July, 2017

5 Things to Consider When Working with a new Virtual Assistant

31 Jul

It is now easier to hire and work with a virtual assistant than ever before because of the way that technology has been evolving and competition in the marketplace.  Because of globalization you are just one step away from freeing up your time, reducing costs and generating more profits than ever by learning to work with a VA.

You should be focusing on your high pay off activities, that generate revenue so you can reduce your stress levels and allow your virtual assistant do the repetitive tasks that hold you back from growing.

Here are five things to consider when hiring your first VA:

  1. Know what you want them to do.

You probably have an idea of what you would like to have your VA do for you on a regular basis, but have you written it all out?  Many people hire a full time VA and don’t know how to fill up their 160 hours in the month.  It is important that you invest some time before making the hire to have an idea of all of the task you would like them to do, this way they will constantly be working and not have to wait for the next task.  This list will forever grow; the key is to have enough for them once they get started.

  1. Know how you are going to communicate with them.

There are many options on the method in which you will be communicating with your VA, the key is to know that method before you get started.  You will want to have your system that works best for you and then set that expectation for your VA.  Skype, Google Docs and Email all are free and are a great system to implement.  Also know when you are going to communicate with them and what the expectation of response time should be.

  1. Crawl before you can walk

Many people hire their VA and give them a To-Do list that is extremely long.  Don’t worry, your VA will finish ALL of those tasks, but assign those tasks in bite size chunks.  They are like any other person working for you, it can be overwhelming if you give them everything at once.  So give them one task at a time or post the list online in a place where they can always see what the next task is, but what’s most important is that they are working on one task at a time.  When they get used to working with you over time, that is when they will be juggling many tasks at once, they will get there, but start off slow.

  1. The dollars are in the details

Most people just want to start telling their VA about the many things they need done, and just want to give the basic idea of what needs to be done and go on to the next task.  This can be dangerous if you do not provide enough detail about the task, you cannot assume that your VA knows everything about the task as you do, so it is better to give more details in the beginning then less about a task.  Over time you will find the comfortable medium as to how much you should explain each task.

  1. Encourage creativity

Your full time virtual assistant wants to make you happy and provide good work, so that is why it is imperative that you follow these last four tips.  You will also want to set the expectation from the beginning that perhaps you don’t know all of the answers and encourage them to get creative and come up with solutions also.  They very well may help you in a way that you never expected.  It is always best to have a second pair of eyes on your work especially from someone one who is so involved with it.

You are about to embark on a wonderful journey with your new full time virtual assistant, so be sure to make the most of it and start off on the right foot.  The possibilities are endless as to what you can have them working on, such as marketing, web design, customer service, bookkeeping, sales, appointment setting, internet research, data entry, web programming, personal tasks and so much more.  

Why WordPress is the Bomb Diggity!

24 Jul

If you haven’t already got a chosen platform, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make when designing a website is which platform you use.

There are endless options, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and so much more. Without a doubt WordPress is the most popular platform, with everyone from bloggers to global organizations utilizing the features that WordPress has to offer.

This post will show you exactly why WordPress is the best website platform for your business and why you need to ensure that you use it on your next project.

TRUSTED BY MILLIONS

WordPress began in 2003 as a humble blogging solution, but has quickly evolved into a full-blown content management system that powers nearly 20% of all websites on the planet.

WordPress is opensource, completely free and offers endless possibilities. Millions of people across the globe can’t be wrong. Therefore if you want a trustworthy website platform you need look no further than WordPress.

GOOD FOR SEO

SEO is a complex animal and the structure of your website plays a major role in where you rank within search engines for specific search terms.

WordPress is optimized for search engines out of the box. From day 1 your website will include all of the necessary components that Google and other search engines need to find and index your web pages.

As you know, increasing your visibility within Google is extremely powerful and it’s well worth doing as much as possible to have your website sitting in those top positions.

EASY TO USE

WordPress is a full-blown content management system with tonnes of neat out of the box features. You don’t need to be a web design guru with 10 years of experience under your belt; you can start building websites in WordPress right away.

If you get stuck, there are countless video tutorials to give you a helping hand.

ENDLESS AMOUNT OF THEMES AND PLUGINS

Many systems can be quite restrictive in terms of their functionality. However, WordPress is unlike any other website system in that it has an endless library of themes and plugins to meet almost any need.

Themes

When it comes to designing a website, you’ll usually have to spend countless hours tweaking html and css until you have a website that looks exactly like you require. That costs time and money, especially if you don’t already possess strong html and css skills.

WordPress has thousands of free and premium themes that offer different functionality, design, layout and so much more. As standard these themes are highly customizable, so you’ll be able to design a professional looking site that is in keeping with your brand in no time at all.

Plugins

Whether it’s an online shop, the ability to only show content to certain visitors or something far more comprehensive, you can almost guarantee that there will be a plugin to provide the functionality. Although if there isn’t one you’ll be able to find a WordPress expert who can alter an existing plugin to bring it more in line with your requirements.

YOU OWN IT

Unlike many low end website platforms, if you build your website on WordPress, you own it. You can take it anywhere you wish without any major restrictions. However, if you decide to use free online website builder software you’ll find that you cant take your website with you and fully customize it to reflect your brand.

Another disadvantage of these free builders is that if you subscribe to premium features like having your own domain and an online store, should the company decide to up their fees, you’re either going to have to pay or build a new website.

With WordPress, you’ll be able to build your website, customize it, switch hosting providers with ease and much more.

As you can see, WordPress offers many fantastic benefits compared to competing solutions and we most definitely recommend considering it for your next website build.

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

17 Jul

Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.

Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $40,654, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated. Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

5 Actual Reasons Why SPAM Email is Dead

10 Jul

There’s a common belief that all email marketing is SPAM email and that promotional emails are clogging our inboxes from marketers competing to stay top of mind.

The thing is, this belief doesn’t really match up to reality. A lot of marketers will say “We really don’t want to SPAM our customers or people in our database”, but this intention seems to get lost in the weeds.

As email users, we’re still convinced that SPAMMY email tactics are still at the heart of email marketing.

Could it be that the overwhelming majority of SPAM email comes from fake websites that don’t compare to the presence of a real company trying to engage with their prospects? Well, maybe.

Here are 5 real, tangible reasons why SPAM email is dead.

SPAM Email Costs Money, A Lot of Money

If there’s a company who wants to email as many people as possible, as often as possible, regardless of how qualified they are, there are a couple assumptions we could make about them:

  • They’re new to email marketing and aren’t familiar with the cost associated with emailing contacts
  • Email reputation is completely foreign to them (more on that later)
  • They’re aware of their email malpractices but don’t give a hoot – this kind of email marketing approach will get shut down by most email service providers (ESPs)

Email marketers want to email as few people as possible per send. Then, over time we evaluate contacts who haven’t been contacted in a while and send them a re-opt-in email.

Once disengaged contacts are identified and don’t re-opt-in, we remove them from my database.

Why would an email marketer want to remove people from their database?

ESPs usually base their price on the number of contacts in a database. When we’re talking about using a HubSpot Pro account with 35,000 contacts we could be paying thousands of dollars per month just for the portal.

Who has that kind of money to invest in communicating with contacts that don’t want to be contacted!?

No way sir, if I send an email to someone and they don’t engage with it, I notice. If that happens multiple times, I remove them from my database. My clients absolutely cannot afford contacts who aren’t opening my emails.

SPAM Email Destroys Reputations

Ever notice how every email in your SPAM folder looks the exact same?

The damage done by SPAMMY practices is difficult to recover from. Campaign Monitor wrote an article about how to approach fixing this damage. For our purposes, the key takeaway is that it’s very, very hard to rectify. A lot of email marketers are employed at agencies where they work with numerous clients and probably don’t have time to go through the process of email reconstruction.

That said, most (if not all) of these marketers aren’t going to engage in SPAMMY tactics because they don’t have the bandwidth to deal with the repercussions.

You Email Service Provider Probably Won’t Let You SPAM

If you’re sending bulk emails you’re probably using an ESP like MailChimp or HubSpot. ESPs like these have strict guidelines in their Terms of Use (see HubSpot’s and MailChimp’s for reference).

Not only is it expensive and time-consuming to send SPAM, but in some (maybe even all) cases it’s impossible to maintain a SPAMMY email strategy.

For some context, let’s talk about why HubSpot and MailChimp care so much about SPAMMY emails.

When you send an email through HubSpot or MailChimp you’re sending it from their server. Emails that are sent from their server are going to contribute to their email reputation. These two ESPs can probably say that using their services will help you get into your contact’s inbox because they have a solid reputation.

They have an economic incentive to remove any SPAMMERS who are hurting their email reputation. So if you SPAM through these ESPs your account will get frozen and likely removed.

There is No Revenue in SPAM

It’s pretty hard to see when your emails are not being delivered. Email clients aren’t required to share where an email was delivered (for example the inbox or SPAM folder).

The only way to tell if email sends are regularly getting filtered into the SPAM folder is by watching email deliverability metrics. If you see that your email metrics are steadily declining, then you’re probably experiencing some inbox placement issues which could be due to SPAMMY email practices like buying lists.

The thing is, this kind of trend will be database wide. Meaning even email addresses that you gathered from organic opt-in measures will probably filter messages to the SPAM folder. This results in fewer opens, and even fewer clicks, which means less traffic to a website.

Email marketers know this. They also know that these email deliverability metrics are used to determine the profitability of email.

Bad email metrics mean diminishing revenue from email. Diminishing revenue from email can put a marketer in a tough spot requiring them to defend their employment. Which takes us to reason 5.

Email Marketers are Paid to Market, Not SPAM

At its core, email marketing is about nurturing and qualifying leads. In this process, we inform newly converted contacts about ways to satisfy their needs.

We’ll use information gathered from form submissions to segments contacts into lists where important traits are grouped together. Then, we’ll use these lists to send emails that contain content relevant to the contacts based on the important traits upon which the lists are generated.

Over time, we’ll introduce them to new content offers or events. Our central goal is to send qualified leads to sales and disqualified leads to a suppression list.

This process keeps our sales funnel clean and occupied by engaged, qualified contacts. This makes leadership teams happy and ensures sustainable employment for sales and email marketing teams. Hooray.

Email lists aren’t purchased and segmentation is based on voluntary information gathered from contacts.

SPAM tactics lead to needlessly stressful work environments. Some of the best email marketers will establish a double opt-in process for all email addresses. This can result in ~40% open rates on emails …talk about a happy marketing and leadership team.

If you’re very concerned about getting SPAMMED from companies, or how SPAMMY your approach to marketing is, I would encourage you to consider how dead SPAM email actually is.

How Marketers Find Social Media Influencers

3 Jul

Most marketers find social media influencers for campaigns by reaching out to them directly rather than by using influencer platforms or talent agencies, according to recent research from Bloglovin’.

The report was based on data from a survey of 100 US-based marketing professionals who work for brands or agencies.

Some 59% of respondents say they typically find social media influencers for campaigns by contacting them directly.

More than one-third (35%) say the influencers themselves typically reach out to the brand.

Respondents say they evaluate social media influencers by looking at the quality/authenticity of their content (75% say they look for) and their audience size (70%).

Marketers say they run social media influencer campaigns to grow brand awareness (76% cite it as a reason), reach new audiences (71%), and increase their brand’s social media following (54%).