July 20, 2011

What to Write About

Your website is about what you do and your blog is about why you love what you do. I wish I could say I made that up but I read it somewhere. It has really stuck with me though. What an easy rule to follow!

For newsletters and email communication, your content will depend on your strategy and goals. Choose to send either a mostly promotional email or a mostly informational email. I recommend 80% information and 20% promotion – or vice versa. Having this focus makes it clear to your subscribers what to expect. You are better to send two separate emails than to send one email that is 50/50.

Each type of email has its place. I can get just as excited about a shoe sale as I do about a new idea. What do your subscribers want to read about (or look at)? That is more important than what you want to write about. (It’s also the difference between blogs and newsletters.)

Content creation is one of the big challenges for my newsletter clients. I always tell them that it gets easier once they get started. I suspect most don't believe me at first.

Here are some tips to help you get started:
  • Write when you are inspired, rather than to meet a deadline. It affects the quality of your message.
  • Schedule time to get inspired. Read articles, blogs and magazines.
  • Always be on the alert for interesting information relevant to your subscribers. ‘Scanning’ will quickly become a habit.
  • Keep an 'ideas' file – either electronic or paper. This will be an invaluable source of inspiration.
  • Agree or disagree with others' opinions. Make sure your argument is convincing and relevant.
  • Write like you talk. Do you ever say 'therefore' in a conversation at Starbucks? If your answer is yes, then use it in your writing. Otherwise, try 'and so'.

July 8, 2011

COLOURlovers

This site was recommended by my friend Anita Hovey at Twirp Communications. Be prepared to spend a little time browsing! Very useful for determining colour schemes and for seamless backgrounds. (And they actually spell 'colour' right for us Canadians ;)

http://www.colourlovers.com/
 

July 7, 2011

Blacklisted!

It feels like someone was messing with my credit score this week. My domain daleyprogress.com was blacklisted. There are a couple of things about this I'd like to share.

How did it happen?
Apparently a link to an event in one of my newsletters pointed to a domain that was blacklisted. (Or at least that's my understanding based on the little info I've been able to get.)

The immediate implication?
Do I have to check every link in my newsletter against the blacklist to prevent this from happening again? I don't really know but, wow, what a pile of work that would be!

How did I discover the problem?
The hard way! I was sending test and regular emails that weren't arriving, even to myself. I initially thought the problem was with i-Contact. They were great about pointing me in the right direction. Then I had to contact Network Solutions which hosts my domain. They were quick to investigate and 'clear my name' for me.

How can I know if it happens again?
If you search 'IP blacklist' on the web, you'll find lots of resources. I found http://www.mxtoolbox.com/ to be pretty easy to use and I signed up for 2 free email notifications. I'm going to add a 'to do' to my calendar to check on the status of my domains monthly.

July 5, 2011

Email versus Social Media

Social media trumps all! Email is still king! There are strong opinions being expressed – pro email or pro social media – all over the web, and in person.The internet is littered with statistics that can be bent one way or the other. Like most decisions in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Here are some articles that offer comparisons:
Measuring Up Email and Social Media
Email Versus Social Media: 3 Key Points
Social Marketing Vs. E-mail Marketing: Is It War?

Unlike many of our life decisions, we don’t have to pick one over the other – we can grab all the advantages of both! So, there’s a group that says “Hey, it doesn’t have to be a war!” I fall heavily into that camp.

Email and social media can work together – like a diversified team: thinking a few steps ahead, coordinating their efforts, maximizing their unique abilities, sharing the workload, and so on. The synergy created is far greater than each individually.

The effort you have to expend is also shared. A prime example is content creation. A 'content creation strategy' is the answer to that common question “What am I ever going to write about?” When leveraging email and social media, you write once and use it in many channels. And there are even apps that make it easy to post to all those channels at once.

I could go on and on about how email marketing and social media can work together – and I probably will in the future. In the meantime, here are some tips from others:
E-mail and Social Media: Can't We All Just Get Along
Mixing Email Marketing with Social Media – 20 Steps To Go Through

July 1, 2011

SocialMention

Social Mention is a social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services.
http://socialmention.com/