January 29, 2017

Is Your Canadian Small Business Compliant with CASL Yet?


It's that year - the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation comes fully info effect on July 1, 2017. Wait, before you roll your eyes and click away, read the next paragraph.

The average small business in Canada has nowhere near the list size to trigger an investigation under CASL. And the reality is most small businesses aren't yet CASL-compliant... and that probably includes yours (and even mine). There's no need to get alarmed.

Here are the 4 most obvious ways businesses aren't yet fully compliant.

#1. Subscription process is missing a description of what content the subscriber can expect to receive and how often

You don't want to be misleading and you also can't be too vague. Simply "Sign up for my newsletter!" is not good enough. Besides, you want a killer call-to-action; it makes good sense regardless of CASL.

Offering a free download? If you plan to add the contact to your regular mailing list, you still need to say that.

#2. Mailing address missing from subscription process

The regulations say that a physical address must be used, not just in the footer of your emails but also accessible when people subscribe. If your mailing address isn't on your website, you might consider adding it to your landing page or autoresponder that people see after signing up.

#3. Asking for express consent then continuing to email when it's not received

Until you specifically ask for consent to email someone, consent may be implied. Once you have asked them, and they haven't given you consent, it's no longer implied. Continuing to email this person is very much against the regulations. You are better not to ask at all.

#4. No unsubscribe functionality in *regular* email

This is a tough one to implement. There are apps for that but no free and simple solution. I'm not compliant with this one yet. This also brings up the significant challenge with managing permissions across multiple platforms (let's not go there).

Whether or not your business is fully compliant with CASL, consider whether it's important for you to be perceived as compliant. (Find more CASL information here.)

Do you think CASL is working? Please click here to let me know your opinion.

photo by psd / Flickr

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January 26, 2017

Selling Public Workshops Online (Several Apps for That!)


A simple process was all I needed to promote two workshops and manage registrations. But, as I often do, I decided to use the opportunity to try out some new ways to do things. Yesterday I put the workshops live for registration. Here are all the different applications I used or will use in my campaign to promote and manage the registrations.
  • my website builder
  • Canva
  • Blogger
  • Hootsuite
  • Social Jukebox
  • iContact
  • PayPal
  • JotForm - my newest favourite app
  • Google Calendar
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • and email
Phew! Some of these are integrated, some not, but I had fun pulling it all together (mostly). And the next time I need to fill workshops, it'll take me a lot less time to put everything in place.

photo by edkohler / Flickr

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January 21, 2017

Actively Share your Newsletter Issues on Social Media


You may already be autoposting your newsletter onto your social media feeds when you send it out. It makes sense to share it more than once, especially if it's the only content you have (i.e. if you're not also blogging).

Re-sharing your newsletter issues using the read online link on your social media feeds multiple times will extend your readership beyond your current subscribers... and hopefully encourage new ones.

Facebook Page, Google+ and LinkedIn
If not autoposted, post a link to the online version of your newsletter as soon as it goes out. Use the sharing buttons within your newsletter to make it easy. For a monthly newsletter, you might consider sharing it again a couple of times before your next issue goes out.

Twitter
Tweet a link to the online version of your newsletter a couple of times a week until your next issue goes out. Use the tweet button in your newsletter but change up the tweet text each time. Add an image to the tweet for added oomph. If you have guest writers and they are on Twitter, tag them in your posts.

Facebook personal feed
Depending on your strategy, you might also consider sharing your newsletter to your personal feed.

Here are a few other suggestions to get more mileage from your email newsletter on social media:
  • If your articles will stand the test of time (evergreen), and you don't already have them on your blog, continue to share out those issues, using anchor links to the specific articles if you've used them.
  • You can even get mileage out of the rest of your newsletter content by posting links for Throwback Thursday. Reminiscing can start interesting discussions.
  • Regularly post links to your newsletter archive - it can serve as a resource page for your fans.
One final piece of advice: if you're going to work so hard to get people to read your newsletter, make sure you also make it easy for them to share it!

photo by U.S. Embassy Pakistan / Flickr

January 16, 2017

Three Words for 2017


'Focus' has been my 'word of the year' since January 2010. When I did a little checking to figure out that date, I was surprised at how long I've been focussed on focus. Perhaps I'm as focussed as I'm going to get.

This year I'm going to buck the 'one word' movement and go with three words: surprised by joy. It's a wish for how I want to be in 2017.

The first line of William Wordsworth's poem of the same name is:
"Surprised by joy - impatient as the Wind"

I stumbled upon it recently while reading books by Canadian author Louise Penny. "Surprised by joy" is a recurring theme throughout her Inspector Gamache series. Maybe it stuck with me because patience sure isn't my best quality.

Share your word (or words) of the year in the comments. Whatever they are, my wish is that you will be surprised by the joy of success this year.

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January 11, 2017

Are You Missing New Subscribers?


If you have a sign-up form, you want subscribers.

If you want subscribers, you need to get them to your sign-up form.

To get people to your sign-up form, you need to tell them where to find it.

Check your own subscription process now

If you have a sign-up form on your website, try this short exercise. Prepare a call to action with the appropriate link to send a new social media follower to your sign-up form. Really, do it now or you won't get this. It'll only take a minute. Go and post it now.

Here is an example I might use:
Free with sign-up! Immediately get a mini workbook with 5 Content Templates to make your writing time more productive. http://daleyprogress.com/newsletter.html

Ready? Pretend you're that new follower. Read your call to action and click to follow the link. Now stop and take your fingers off that mouse. Is your sign-up form staring you in the face, bold and beautiful with no other distractions? If it's not, that might explain why you haven't seen a new subscriber in weeks.

This is a huge missed opportunity for anyone doing any kind of email marketing - and I see it often. Sign-up forms get embedded in sidebars or footers, usually with no text to tempt someone to subscribe.

So where on your website should you put your sign-up form? On a landing page of its own - with nothing distracting the visitor from filling out that form.

The article 6 Tactics to Turn Visitors into Subscribers describes what you should put on your landing page. Among other things, include specifics about what people are signing up for - not just "my monthly newsletter". Not only will this encourage more sign-ups, it's required by CASL if you live in Canada.

Use a prominent call to action on other webpages where it makes sense, including a link to your landing page with its standoutish sign-up form.

Don't let another confused visitor stumble away from your sign-up form. Make it so darn obvious it's impossible to miss.

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January 5, 2017

Your 'Thank You for Signing Up' Page

A redirect page is the webpage where someone ends up after filling in your subscription form. This is something you have control over and it's worth putting a little effort into. After all, someone has just said they trust you enough to sign up for your newsletter - it's a good time to dazzle them with more of your brilliance and give them some value right away.

Here is a screen shot of a client's redirect page. When someone subscribes to Twirp's newsletter, this is where they end up.


Here's why this page is great:
  • It clearly describes what the subscriber signed up for.
  • There's a free giveaway, which was promised in the call to action.
  • There's a link to get immediate value by going to Twirp's blog.
  • Also those cute little Twirplings at the bottom of the screen jump up and down... which made me feel kind of happy to have subscribed.

Is it time to take a fresh look at your own redirect page? What is the most important message you want to communicate at this point in your business relationship? Here are some tips that will help you decide.

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January 1, 2017

Milestones Mean Opportunity

On May 30, 2013, we sent out the 50th issue of the Work Better, Not Harder newsletter. In it I wrote about the importance of celebrating milestones - small business owners don't do that enough. In July of 2016, we sent out issue #100. That big milestone was reached through our own perseverance; we could have reached it even if we had no readers. Something to be proud of but not particularly motivating.

I want people to read my stuff - that motivates me.

For a couple of years, we've been flirting with reaching 10,000 pageviews on our blog in one calendar month, coming close but never quite reaching it. In December 2016 it finally happened - we had over 12,000 pageviews. Thank you to our readers who keep coming back!


Blogging regularly (this is post #451) has brought many benefits:
  • More social media contacts
  • More subscribers = potential clients and referrers
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Better writing skills - practice makes perfect
  • Motivation
  • More referrals, clients and friends
  • Requires me to do research which keeps me current
  • Gives me a reason to celebrate!
It's much more fun writing when you know you're being read. And you won't know that unless you are watching your statistics.

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