January 31, 2013

Content That Saves Time


This is worth getting excited about - the best kind of content possible. That’s because content that saves you time also helps you meet so many other goals.

How can taking the time to create content actually save you time? Well, you create content out of all the communication you do on a regular basis. You know, like when you write an email to explain something to a new client that you’ve already explained dozens of times in the past to previous clients. Your message becomes routine, maybe even boring, for you and your client.

So why not prepare a succinct, compelling version of it to share with new clients? And, if it’s useful to your clients, I bet it’s useful to others. So turn it into a blog post. Add it to your website FAQs or resource page. Share it on social media. Put it in your newsletter.

Not only does this kind of content save you time with your processes, it also provides great content that elevates you as an expert and builds your reputation. Your clients will think you’re super efficient (because, of course, you are) and you’ll have content to repurpose in a variety of ways (also efficient).

Here are some other examples of content that saves time. Sit down and create an awesome version of:
  • Your email signature: Include your phone number and links to your website, blog, social media accounts, and newsletter issue/sign-up.
  • Examples of your work: Use photos, screen shots, galleries, links, PDF files, document libraries – whatever works best for your business.
  • Your testimonials: Make asking for testimonials part of your invoicing process. Collect them all in one place, like on a web page, where they’re easily accessible when needed for specific purposes.
  • Worksheets and action lists: Use these for gathering client information, formalizing processes, and as resources that can be used over and over again.
You’ll find that investing time in these activities will save you time and earn you a whole raft of other benefits.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on January 30, 2013

Sharing Is Endorsing

In the press for time to get everything done, it can be tempting to share content from trusted sources that you do not review. Sharing content from other experts, colleagues and organizations is a great way to let your fans know that you:

  • keep up with current trends
  • actively pursue continued learning
  • are an expert in your field
  • are aware of what other experts are talking about
  • are plugged in to the local business community

Keep in mind that when you share content, your fans assume that you endorse the content. Even with trusted sources, things can go wrong.

Take the time to read what you share. If you don't agree, say so. If you do agree, mention why. Show your fans that you have read the content yourself.

The last thing you want to do is mislead your fans by sharing content that is contradictory to your own opinion. And a fan that has come to rely on you for great shares, will be disappointed if you share something of no value to them other than the catchy title.



Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on January 30, 2013

January 21, 2013

Links were Clicked!

There are several different actions that your subscribers can take when they receive your email in their inbox. While some of them are certainly more desirable than others, most of them aren't as bad as you might initially think.

Email is deleted, unopened.
This is the simplest thing to do and usually 2/3 of your list will do just that. Does that mean you should stop sending to these people? No way. They see your name in their inbox every time you send. They begin to realize they will hear from you again. Often they intend to read your emails... and sooner or later that might happen.

Another thing to note is that many subscribers will read the text-only version of your message or disable images from loading. Your bulk email software will not be able to identify and flag those as 'opens' in your statistics. Your open rate is always higher than your stats show. The difference is increasing with the use of more mobile devices.

Email is ignored.
It's not opened but it's not deleted either. Being ignored is little better than being deleted.

Email is filed for future reading, unopened.
We all have one of those folders. Sometimes we get to them, sometimes not. I've actually seen emails opened weeks and even months after being sent.

Email is opened, then immediately deleted or ignored.
Counts as an 'open' but is it really any better than being deleted unopened?

Email is opened and reader unsubscribes.
This is one of those dark clouds with a silver lining. There are many reasons that a subscriber may unsubscribe. Some of those reasons may be relevant for you to recognize and act on. For example, was your subject line misleading about the content within? Aside from feedback, the unsubscribe process helps to vet your prospects (if indeed your subscribers are your prospects) without having to pick up the phone. Make it really easy to unsubscribe or you'll turn a non-experience into a bad one.

Email is opened, scanned, then deleted or filed.
This is getting much better. This reader will remember something about you and your message.

Email is opened - links are clicked!
You've done good! You've got your subscriber to take two specific actions already. They are primed for the next step: responding to your call to action.

Warning: Don't project your own reactions and judgments about spam onto your subscribers. You are not a part of your target market - don't make assumptions. There are some of us (1 in 5) who just love getting newsletters!

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January 15, 2013

Being a Rebel (Book Review)

Interesting and frustrating. Those are the two best words to describe my reaction to Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing by DJ Wadlow and Jason Falls.

The book was interesting because it was well-researched and full of case studies and examples. It explains a lot of aspects of email marketing in great detail. In particular, the authors do a good job of describing how email and social media work so well together - calling them Batman (email) and Robin (social media). Their definitions of social connecting, social sharing, and other social terms cover the basics but they fall a bit short of offering unique ideas about combining the two.

The book was frustrating because it was about email marketing in general and I specialize in enewsletters. I kept thinking, "But that's not true for newsletters" or "I wouldn't do that." Much of the information referred to promotional marketing rather than content marketing. While some things hold true for both, there are also many distinctions.

The book was rebellious because Wadlow and Falls highlight common 'best practices' and then debunk a lot of them. The case studies are top notch with accompanying screen shots and diagrams. It got me thinking outside the, umm, borders. Thumbs up!


January 10, 2013

What I Learned from Susan Sweeney

I was surprised and delighted to hear that my website had been used recently as an example in a webinar that Susan Sweeney facilitated for the Centre for Women in Business.

You see, without knowing it, Susan has had a huge impact on my website.

The first workshop I attended of Susan's was in Regina in 2002. It was long before I actually had a website. Among the many takeaways that day, one has always stuck with me: the importance of fresh content and quality control for your website.

When I started my business, I knew the only way I was going to have fresh content was if I took control and managed my own website. By constantly working on it, I’m inspired about what changes to make.

Keeping content fresh creates another challenge – it means a lot of changes. And a lot of changes mean opportunity for mistakes. I’m a stickler for details and I know how I react when I click on a link and it doesn’t work.

When I asked Danielle to be our official Daley Progress website auditor, I harped about all this so much that she wrote a blog post about it.

So, now you can see why I’m so delighted that my website fell under Susan’s scrutiny. And it was fun to write and tell her that we’ve come full circle. “What goes around, comes around” was never more true than in today’s online world. Thanks to Susan for the early inspiration she provided!


January 7, 2013

10 Email Predictions for 2013

1. Your inbox will continue to be full.

2. You’ll check your inbox at least 5 times a day.

3. The more emails you send, the more you will receive.

4. You will spend significant hours just organizing your emails. And then you’ll spend even more looking for specific emails.

5. At least 100 times, you’ll swear to yourself that you’ll get ‘caught up’ on email.

6. You’ll delete several important emails by accident.

7. A handful of times, you’ll send an email forgetting the intended attachment.

8. You’ll find emails in your ‘draft’ box days after you thought you’d sent them.

9. You’ll click ‘reply all’ one too many times.

10. You’ll unsubscribe from countless commercial emails. But you’ll sign up for a few too.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


January 5, 2013

Don't Dilute Your Message

Let’s say you own a business that sells services to the general public. And, because you are so good at what you do, you also sell different services to other businesses in your industry. This is a common scenario for successful small businesses.

You want to start an enewsletter - let’s talk content.

Stephanie sells financial advice. She also sells advice to other advisors about how to sell and deliver financial advice. Stephanie's approach to financial advice is unique in her industry and she is a crusader.

So when it comes to Stephanie's advice, what content will appeal to both of her target markets? Be interesting or useful to both? Be of value to both? Can you write a list of potential topics? It won't be as long as you might think. The type of financial advice that appeals to you and I is not what financial advisors want. A diagram of all the possible content might look like this:


If you have two distinct target markets, you need to find content that will appeal to both. In some cases, like this example, that isn't easy. If you stray to either side of that overlapping area, you'll dilute your message. It will appeal to one or the other but not both - your readers will lose interest. In this case, you are better off to do two separate newsletters or, if time and money are a concern, pick one to focus on. Your efforts will be much more effective.

On the other hand, if the possible content for your two target markets looks like this...


...it'll be easy to develop great content that will be enjoyed by all!

Your newsletter needs to WOW your readers and it will not do that if your message and style are watered down.

January 1, 2013

I Love Uphill Graphs!

I've been known to fixate on graphs and measurements. See, I really hate working for no reason. I like to know that my efforts make a difference. If not, I either tweak and retry, or I give it up and put my efforts elsewhere.

You can imagine that I've been keeping an eagle eye on all this online stuff - blogging, social media - since I took those first tentative steps. And it's really cool that the stats get dished up for me!

I was delighted when I saw this graph of our blog statistics:

Before December, the highest number of page views we'd ever had in one month was in October - 997 views. I was kind of happy when that happened. In December, our page views more than quadrupled!

We did something right... but what was it? How do I replicate it?

I think this happened because 3 or 4 times a week I started posting links to older blog posts on Twitter and LinkedIn. But, well, doesn't that seem just a little too easy?

I'm wondering if perhaps the holidays mean people were reading more. I'd love to hear from anyone that's seeing a change in their blog stats for December.