March 31, 2014

Why Prune my Contact List?


My answer is: Never! I've got two really good reasons for you:

#1. There's value in being seen even if your email goes unopened. If someone has not unsubscribed, don't make assumptions about their wants and needs. Perhaps the timing just isn't right. Being seen in your subscriber's inbox serves as a reminder that can still keep you top of mind.

#2. Your open rate is over rated. If you make decisions about deleting contacts based on open rates, you're effectively negating all the hard work you do to build your list. Open rates are understated by the number of 'plain text' or 'text only' views; an image has to be viewed in order to count as an open. With more use of mobile devices, the gap between actual opens and reported opens is increasing. You could be deleting a contact who regularly reads your newsletter on their phone.

Are you using these reasons to justify pruning your list?

"I want to reduce my subscriber count to save money on bulk email fees."
OK now, think about that. You've invested a lot in building your list and your email reputation. The cost of additional subscribers is a pittance in comparison - don't scrimp on this.

"I don't want to spam people who don't want my emails."
If you think that what you are sending out is spam, stop doing that right now!

Building an engaged contact list takes a lot of effort, don't sell yours short. Stop making assumptions. Instead, make it easy for your readers to unsubscribe and let them do the pruning for you!

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March 27, 2014

Don't Discount Testimonials

Don't discount testimonials
Some people put a lot of credence in testimonials. Granted, that may not be you, but don’t discount their importance. Testimonials boost your reputation by:
  • positioning you as an expert
  • answering unasked questions your prospects might have about the experience of working with you or your company
  • providing social proof

Make it easy for your customers to provide a testimonial – be specific in your request. Here is what I ask for when I request a testimonial from a newsletter client: “You might choose to write about how a newsletter helps your business, what it was like to work with us, or how you feel about the final results.”

Testimonials of varying lengths are great because you can put them to different uses. Brief testimonials are great for headers and headlines. More lengthy testimonials will often describe something that you then don’t have to describe yourself.

Maintaining a page of testimonials on your website keeps them all in one place. Aside from being evidence of your success, this can also be a resource, saving you time when you need testimonials for specific purposes, like product promotions or speaking gigs.

Make progress on this today:
  1. Request a testimonial from someone you’ve neglected to ask.
  2. Give a testimonial to someone you’ve neglected to endorse.
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder March 27, 2014

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Taking Chances Together

There is no chance you can take that isn't a risk. As entrepreneurs, we get used to risk in our lives. It is a risk to start a new venture, a new project, or step out of our comfort zone. Yet, we continue to do it. Why?

Through the struggles, if we pay attention, we learn important lessons. And the rewards can bring unforgettable feel good moments.

Last year, I took one of those chances by taking the Event Chair position to plan Courage, Wisdom, Success: An Evening with Arlene for The Regina Women's Network. It was a huge success and I had many unforgettable feel good moments. Every one of those moments was because of the group of ladies that joined me in the planning and became the CWS 2014 event committee.

I am always talking about collaboration and how it brings out the best in creativity, preaching the power of brainstorming. Our success was a result of all the hours of work we put in at the committee table. All of my joy and memories are also a result of sitting at that committee table. I think that is a direct result of our dynamic group. The experience only reinforced my belief and support of working in collaboration.

Discover the joy of working with a group. Join a mastermind, say yes to the next interesting project that comes your way, or just get out to the next networking event and make an effort to interact when you are there.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder March 27, 2014

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March 24, 2014

3 Unique Ways to Use your Newsletter

If you have a newsletter, it should have a read online link. This link takes the reader to the web version of your newsletter. This is an archive copy of your newsletter that is like a web page. How can you use this?

1) You can use it to provide event details and online payment for any event you are planning. Particularly useful if you have difficulty with website updates. Just send a newsletter event announcement with a register now PayPal link in it. The read online link url becomes your event registration page. Share it on social media, include it in follow up email, and post it on your blog.

2) Put it on your website as a resource for your clients and customers. Many of us are answering common client questions inside our newsletters. You can use the read online url on your website with your FAQ answers or in case studies. If you are answering those questions on your blog, you can use it there too!

3) Once you have a few issues under you belt, keep your archive link handy. Each time a client emails asking a question you have already published your best answer to, email them the read online url for the appropriate issue. Your archive becomes, over time, a database of all your best answers and you can update them with a more recent issue anytime. Think of the time this will save you!

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March 19, 2014

4 Tips to Gain Trust with your Subject Line

The main goal of your subject line is to get your subscribers to open your newsletter – that’s it. But achieving that is not as simple as it sounds.

If you are engaged in promotional email campaigns (advertising), you might use scare tactics or name dropping to encourage opens. These tactics may work well for B2C marketing but if your goal is to build your reputation and gain trust, ensure that your subject line is not misleading. You don't want your subscribers to feel let down or ripped off once they click to open.

Here are some tips for creating a subject line that encourages opens without endangering your reputation:
  • Simply and clearly describe the content within, focusing on results not features. Make sure to develop content that your subscribers will find valuable and interesting. Don’t use fancy words and acronyms.
  • Ask a question your readers are dying to know the answer to. Make sure you answer the question within your newsletter!
  • Say something surprising about the content within but don't be frivolous or exaggerate excessively.
  • Use numbers. This sends an indication that the content within is broken down into manageable bits or describes a step-by-step process.
Don't rely on any one of the above tactics exclusively – mix it up. Watch your open rates to gauge what is working best for you.

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March 15, 2014

How to Publish a Newsletter without Writing


There are two things that usually keep someone from starting a newsletter. One is compiling their first mailing list. The other is: "But I can't write very well!" There are ways to publish a newsletter without having to do a lot of writing.

#1. Come up with the ideas and prepare an outline. Then delegate or hire someone to do the writing for you.

#2. Curate content. That means researching and gathering content from other sources that you then share, giving appropriate credit. This model is used by online publishing empires like Huffington Post and Smart Briefs. Search for content online or set up Google Alerts for your keywords.

#3. Solicit content from other experts serving the same target market. Using a model of guest contributors, offer the opportunity for writers to get in front of your audience. Develop systems to attract relevant, well-written content.

#4. Use a different medium; create and include your own photos, graphics, video or audio.

Whether it's the talent or the confidence that you lack, if you want to publish a newsletter, there are many ways to get it done without writing content yourself.

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March 12, 2014

Put your Reputation on the Line

It’s a bit like telling all your family and friends when you’re starting a diet or quitting smoking. Your reputation is on the line. Powerful incentive for task completion!

We all know how easy it is to put off things that are a little risky.

What if something comes up and we’re not ready?

Something will always come up if we start out with that possibility in mind. We’re busy – we lose focus. Opportunity knocks every day for entrepreneurs, and we’re right there to open the door.

One way to get motivated is to create a deadline – one that other people know about. As professionals and small business owners, our reputation is of the utmost importance to our continued success.

Put your reputation on the line and you will get things done. And that should grow your reputation more.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter Mar-12-14

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March 7, 2014

Conversion Funnels do not Excite


Do you know that an email marketing campaign can improve your 'conversion funnel'? Do you care?

If we want our potential customers to understand us, we have to speak their language - not expect them to learn ours.

Our customers don't care about conversion funnels. They want their newsletters to excite their readers enough to pick up the phone, or buy a book, or register for an event.

What do your customers want? Use their language to talk to them, not your industry's.

photo by allenjaelee

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March 2, 2014

"But I don’t want to spam my friends!"

Overheard at a networking event: “But I don’t want to spam my friends.”

An excellent sentiment! But if you think your friends would consider your newsletter to be spam, what does that say about your content strategy?

The solution to avoid sending spam is simple. Figure out what your friends (and customers and prospects and colleagues) will find interesting or useful and give them that.

You're right. Your friends don’t want spam – so give them something better.

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